By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
“We have lift off!”
Those words, spoken at every space launch, bury decades of work and investment necessary to make tough missions successful.
After U.S. military forces toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, President George W. Bush confidently marched across the flight deck of USS Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner bearing the words “Mission Accomplished.”
That was May 1, 2003.
President Bush addressing sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln
Democrats have derided the president since as over confident and ill prepared for the long-term work needed to insure peace and security in a new democratic Iraq.
Today, as we approach May 1, 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes say the war in Iraq is costing the United States $12 Billion every month – three times the predicted monthly costs in 2003. Add to that thousands of wounded and dead.
USS Lake Erie (CG-70) docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
When USS Lake Erie, a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser, shot down an errant satellite on February 20 of this year, the missile and satellite intercept was rooted in a ship and combat systems development that began in the 1970s and a missile and ballistic missile defense effort that started in 1991. The costs would be staggering but are difficult to tally.
The point is simple: as we watch space shuttle Endeavour launch from the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow for a rendezvous with an orbiting International Space Station, the important thought is not those few seconds of “We have lift off.” The more important part of our space “endeavor” is the huge investment made by engineers, scientists, astronauts, mission planners, financial analysts and tens of thousands of others since the 1950s.
Endeavor’s mission to the ISS will last 16 days: the longest shuttle mission ever to the ISS. A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration. Kibo, which means “hope” in Japanese, will be delivered in three stages. Once installed, it will complete the research nucleus of the ISS along with the American, Russian and European laboratories.
Projects like our shuttle and ISS efforts take tons of sweat.
The same might be said of the war in Iraq. The same Democrats that criticized George W. Bush for “Mission Accomplished” are now critical of Senator John McCain for saying that American troops could be in Iraq for a long time – maybe up to 100 years.
This should not be too much a surprise to a nation with troops in Germany since 1945 and troops in South Korea since the brokered cease fire in the mid-1950s.
Tough tasks take a very long time and they also cost a lot of money.
The United States is the richest nation on earth ever – and the longest lasting democracy ever. And the Founders didn’t create our Constitution and the other underpinnings of this greatness overnight: it took years.
Life — and especially foreign policy — is not a viedo game. It takes care, patience invested energy and time. Patience (for those who have forgotten) is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. Thus goals are achieved.
In a society now enamored by lighting fast cell phones and an American Idol contest that only has drama for weeks at a stretch, we might reflect upon American greatness and history which teaches us, without a doubt, that great achievements are only within our grasp after long-term effort and investment — and plenty of it.