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Politics & Power

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Defining Moments

In the course of human history there are always defining moments that drive events in the direction that they will ultimately take. In this time of struggles for the control of the hearts and minds of people around the world it is the defining moments we must consider. When we look at the events in our nation and the world and the impact that they have on the people what will we identify as the defining moments that made them happen?

For the years from 2000 until 2007 there have been many defining events and defining moments that led to those events. From the questions around elections to the attack on the United States by terrorists to the launching of two wars a half a world away, this period in our history has been one of turmoil and change on a scale not seen in our nation for many decades. For those who will write the history of our time defining the important moments of this time period will be the task of teaching the lessons of our time to future generations. As with all things of significant measure, there are many ways in which these things can be seen. How we record them now and how they are seen in the future may define our nation for generations to come.

In 2000 we had a national election where the winner of the popular vote lost the election. An occurrence of that nature in a democracy is an event of gargantuan proportion. What was the defining moment that ultimately brought that about? Was it the roadblocks on the way to the polls in the minority districts or the legal voters removed from the voter rolls as convicted felons despite their never having been convicted of a crime? Could it have been the addition of Ralph Nader to the election? Maybe it was the political bent of the 5 Supreme Court justices that ultimately decided the outcome of the election? Any one of these could be seen as the defining factors but which moment, which event will history decide is the defining moment of the 2000 election? How will the election be summarized to fit on that page of the history book?

In 2001 we were attacked by al Qaeda in a cowardly and vicious manner that left thousands of Americans dead and our nation forever changed. When examining that event how will we determine the cause? Was it the support for the rebels in Afghanistan in the 1980’s in their struggle against the USSR that gave rise to the Taliban? Was it our pulling out of Afghanistan before they had a stable government in place because our interests there were no longer served by being there? Could it be our support for Israel that made those hijackers feel they had enough cause to die in order to attack America? Was it our failure to heed the warnings of Vladimir Putin of an imminent attack on the US? What will we say was the defining moment that led to the successful attacks on America on 9/11/2001?

Moving beyond the 2000 election and 9/11 there lies the defining of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While many accept that the Afghan war was necessary, most Americans now question the necessity for the Iraq war. When we write the history books, how will we define the Iraq war? Will it be the great war of freedom for the Iraqi people or will it be Bush’s folly? Will the toppling of Saddam Hussein be seen as the defining moment of the war or will it be the releasing of the Iraq War Study Group Report and the findings that there were no weapons of mass destruction? The choice of which events define the larger event will paint the picture of the war in the future and make the moral judgments about its justifications. Additionally it will likely define the presidency of George W. Bush for generations to come.

As a nation we make many of the choices that lead to the defining moments of history. When we chose George W. Bush as our leader we as a nation decided the course of our foreign policy for years to come. In this time of choosing another leader, we once again have a choice to make about the direction of our nation for years to come. For the voter it is the elections that provide the defining moments for our history. We the people of the United States have limited ability to shape world events in the larger sense and it is to our own discredit if we choose to not make those decisions or make them poorly because we do not take the time to make informed decisions. In November 2008 America will have another defining moment in her history. The choice we must make is how we will choose to define the moment.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america



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