Nearly everyone who was around for the horrendous events of Sept. 11, 2001, should remember the “Freedom” public service commercial produced by the Advertising Council trade group. The spot opens with a three-quarter view of a long line of middle-class row houses. The voice-over narration declares, “On September 11th, terrorists tried to change America forever.” Then the image fades to black and then re-appears showing the same row houses festooned with American flags. “Well, they succeeded,” the narrator solemnly intoned. The 9/11 terror attacks did foster a spirit of national unity that perhaps reached its zenith with the quick routing of the Taliban militia and other Islamist fighters in Afghanistan by U.S.-led forces. Although many people would like to forget the fact, there was still a strong sense of shared purpose when a much bigger U.S.-led force invaded Iraq in 2003 and in short order wrested power from Saddam Hussein. For the most part, it’s been all downhill since then.
Today, the nation appears increasingly weary of the toll of the last 12 years. This shows in the debate over President Barack Obama’s plan to launch a retaliatory strike on Syria in response to the poison gas attack on Syrian civilians. Various polls suggest the American people, by a wide margin, want no such attack. As this was written, the fate of the president’s effort to convince Congress to endorse an attack on Syria was not known. As he was trying to make that case, it was obvious even the left and right aren’t united on this issue.