A Nation Divided

You can work yourself into a spitting fury, or begin a virtual shoving match with your political rival and never throw anything but your best combination of political slurs. "Fanatical, war mongering sycophant!" "Spineless, immoral deviant!"

People have become defined by their political affiliations. You’re either a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat and depending on which, a whole world of assumptions can be made about your character and personality. The middle ground has eroded to the point of near imperceptibility.

Beginning with the inauguration of George W. Bush, America has been in a downward spiral toward complete division. It started with the 2000 election debacle. Then, there was a brief respite when on Sept. 11, 2001, the country – in its shock and outrage – put aside its election bitterness and united behind the president. Unfortunately, that unity didn’t last long. Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee’s use of 9/11 and the War on Terror for political gain quickly renewed the county’s polarization. The Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq, and the ensuing death toll and chaos that followed, solidified the division, which has plagued America ever since. 

Bush’s handling of the War on Terror and his decision to incorporate Iraq in that war has been one of the most divisive factors of his presidency. Yet, with the guidance of Karl Rove he has turned War and national security into his two greatest assets when in fact they are his biggest weaknesses. There are three main points in support of this claim.

One: shifting resources and military personnel from Afghanistan to Iraq allowed al-Qeada to survive and the Afghan drug trade to thrive. When the CIA had the chance to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden the U.S. Military didn’t provide the needed assistance and it is believed he escaped into the mountainous border region of Pakistan. Furthermore, overthrowing the Taliban birthed unintended consequences and Afghanistan subsequently turned into a full-fledged "Narco-State," producing the World’s largest supply of heroin. In fact, 90 percent of Britain’s street heroin comes from Afghanistan. As a response, Britain recently dedicated approximately 3,300 additional troops to Afghanistan and plans to spend $1.8 billion to combat the resurgence of the Taliban and the flourishing opium business there.

Two: the American occupation of Iraq has antagonized and provided a training ground for global terrorism. According to a study produced by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director’s think tank, Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as a training ground for "professionalized" terrorists. Also, according to government calculations, terrorism has in fact increased not decreased since the Bush Administration declared war on it.

Three: according to two separate reports, the U.S. Military has been stretched close to the breaking point. The first report, (paid for by the Pentagon) produced by retired army officer and West Point graduate Andrew Krepinevitch concludes that the army is "stretched to a thin green line" and can’t maintain the current pace of operations in Iraq without causing permanent damage. The second report produced by Clinton era National Security Officials criticized the Bush Administration for failing to plan the Iraq War properly, not sending a large enough force to pacify the country and not adequately equipping U.S. troops. "These failures have created a real risk of breaking the force," the report states.

These facts, along with the looming threat of a full-fledged civil war in Iraq, shine a harsh light on the truth of the matter. The Bush Administration’s War has made America, and more importantly, the World, a less secure place.

Turning such an obvious weakness into their strength is a testament to the political skill of Karl Rove and the Bush Administration. However, the casualties of their manipulation will have more lasting consequences than the shelf life of political power. They have sacrificed national unity, America’s image abroad and ultimately our future for their misguided, ideological quest.

Whether America can recover what it has lost is uncertain. In order to do so we must first realize we have much more in common than is readily apparent. We all want safety and security from terrorism. We want economic stability, good jobs, safe streets, functioning schools and a society where freedom and democratic values remain strong.

The unfortunate truth is that the current leadership, both in the White House and in Congress, has not met the basic needs that we all share. Instead, they are beholden to special interest groups and corporations that can provide them with the necessary funds to win today’s multi-million dollar elections. America desperately needs a change in leadership. We need leaders who, rather than catering to corporations or exacerbating our differences, can reunite the country, provide us with optimism, security and meaningful progress.