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Retired General Tommy Ray Franks, former Commander-in-chief of CENTCOM and present there as 9/11 unravelled.
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I've sent the following op-ed piece to the NY Times.

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During the 1930s the German people, chagrined by their defeat in WW I and bullied by Hitler, allowed their nation to behave in ways they would later come to regret. Their negligence ultimately led to shame and guilt that still echoes in the national soul.

In the 1960s the American people, led by powerful and ambitious presidents, allowed their country to be drawn into a meaningless war that it would ultimately lose to a determined indigenous Vietnamese population. Although a vocal segment of the American people rebelled against that madness, the monument to our national sorrow, shame, and guilt for allowing it to happen still draws weeping citizens to Washington DC.

The morning of September 11, 2001 revealed the vulnerability of a previously smug United States and provided a set of ideologues with the excuse for a vengeful response. The public was furious, wanted to strike back, and was willing to accept any target for their anger that the administration determined. Revenge was wanted, and although a handful of citizens called for restraint, their voices were drowned out by those clamoring for blood. Under the circumstances it was easy for Bush to direct the revenge at Iraq, even though it bore no responsibility for 9/11. Most U.S. citizens couldn't begin to locate Iraq on a world map.

Now, when it has become clear that our fury has led us into yet another catastrophe, people are bewildered and looking for someone else to blame. But as Pogo so shrewdly observed "We have met the enemy, and he is us." It's our own fault and somewhere deep in our souls we know it. Hillary can get away with claiming that she was duped by Bush's lies only because virtually the entire country (including most tragically the Fourth Estate) also allowed itself to be duped. People tumbled over themselves trying to be the most patriotic and the most bellicose.

The misplaced trust in the Bush administration has led us into far more than an unjust war. It's allowed the U.S. to be driven down paths many of which contravene the very basis upon which the nation was founded. Dictators gain power by bullying and intimidation. It's time for it to stop - for people, particularly politicians and the media, to stand up and say what needs to be said "we allowed ourselves to be bullied and lied to; we should have been less trusting of our leadership, and we will no longer be intimidated." Instead everyone is looking for scapegoats and "solutions." But there is no "solution" when one has participated in a crime. There is only atonement, and corrective action. Until we face that fact we will continue to be criminally complicit.

More than a generation after their resounding defeat at the end of WW II, the German people bear the stigma of having allowed Hitler to lead them astray. Americans will bear a similar stigma for many years to come. It's time to acknowledge our own responsibility, put a stop to our complicity, and begin the long healing process.



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