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Mike Bellah

A History Lesson from the Future
June  2004
Last night I had a dream. The year was 2065, and my great, great granddaughter was giving a report to her 10th grade government class on what she called “The Terrorists Wars.” 

Here’s what she said:

Good morning class. As you know, The Terrorists Wars between 2001 and 2010 have been called the pivotal wars of the 21st century. 

Had the terrorists had their way, we would not be sitting here this morning, at least we girls would not. Education would be only for males, and you guys probably would be reciting religious mantras instead of reviewing history.

Today, we know that George W. Bush, our nation’s 43rd President, led us in winning these wars. 

After the infamous attacks of 9/11, 2001, it was the Bush Doctrine that declared war on every state that supported or harbored terrorists—a policy that led to military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a policy that through economic and political pressure caused nations like Libya, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to expel their own terrorists. 

So we honor George Bush yearly on September 11. But did you know he almost did not get the chance to finish the wars? He almost was not elected for a second term. 

That’s right. Although President Bush was a well loved leader, he also was much hated. Before 9/11 his domestic detractors accused him of stealing the 2000 election; after 9/11 they accused him of not preparing adequately for the surprise attacks, of rushing to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of bungling the war effort in each of those places.

If you picked up a newspaper in the summer of 2004, just months before the November election, you would read not of atrocities committed by terrorists in Iraq (and there were many—innocent people beheaded, burned and bombed). No, the American Press wrote of the “atrocities” of the Bush administration, which included its failure to prevent the events of 9/11. 

In regards to 9/11, the Press blamed mostly National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Of course, you know her better as Vice President Rice, the first woman and African American to rise to this position. After the Terrorist Wars, U.S. voters showed what they thought of Rice’s competence.

But in the summer of 2004, news reports still were pointing out that the U.S. had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And since the existence of such was one justification for going to war, President Bush had “misled” the American people. 

Bush would not be vindicated until December 2008, when 400 pounds of Iraq’s weaponized anthrax, along with large caches of the deadly toxin ricin and serin gas, were discovered in Syria. 

To top it off, in May of 2004, the U.S. military had revealed an investigation into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers at a place called Abu Ghraib. Though the Army itself instigated the probe and eventually brought charges against its own people, the Press would not let go of the story. In the summer of 2004, more and more gruesome pictures were shown on the nightly news, and the president’s popularity dropped to new lows. Pollsters predicted an easy win for challenger John Kerry in the fall.

What rescued Bush to pursue his war on terror? What helped him help us remain free? You did. Or, your ancestors did. 

Ordinary Americans, many of them living in small towns like ours, refused to stand by idly and watch a courageous man and a noble cause defeated. They demonstrated in front of local news outlets; they called elected officials; they wrote newspaper columns and letters to the editor; and in November they went to the polls in record numbers.

My great, great grandfather was one of these people. He died before I was born, but while writing this report, I read some of his stuff. And, in closing, I’ve been wondering, did he guess how this would all turn out? When he wrote, did he think of me?

“You got it, honey,” I whispered looking into her grandmother’s blue eyes. Of course she couldn’t hear me; it was only a dream. 

Or was it a vision? 

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