Few people recall that al Qaeda was already a known threat on 9/11. They bombed America’s embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 – while I was serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment. We were convinced we would be departing swiftly to deal a decisively fatal blow to al Qaeda in response. Unfortunately, President Bill Clinton chose not to attack them directly – one of several factors that influenced my decision to leave the Army.
In 2000, President George W. Bush campaigned for the presidency primarily on domestic issues—particularly education. That day, President Bush, was reading to school children in Florida when he was called away to reckon with a nation that suddenly recognized we were at war. Within a week, Congress authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan, the nation harboring Usama Bin Laden.
A year later, the United States invaded Iraq – officially to locate weapons of mass destruction and take them from Saddam Hussein before he could distribute them to terrorists seeking to attack America.
Somewhere between invading Afghanistan and pivoting to Iraq, someone changed the mission. Our military makes hard jobs look easy every day. And so, the Bush hoisted a new assignment upon them: nation building.