Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Next George Washington?

“Khadafy Duck” was one of the nicknames Conservative pundits had for Moammar Khadafy – at least that’s one of the ways his name is spelled these days. The Arabs use a phonetic spelling system; there written language is rather like short-hand, spelling out the sound, rather than following an alphabet.

Someone made the mistake of giving this guy a microphone and it’s not going to be easy getting him to relinquish it again. He and the other Arab leaders have certainly overstayed their welcome. Given the climate of the Middle East, there extended reigns were probably a necessary evil. Khadafy had better watch out, or they’ll revoke his membership in the Society of the Cincinnati.

The Society was a Revolutionary War version of the VFW or the American Legion, though the battles were all fought here in North America. Gen. George Washington and his officers had been through a horrible war against a superior enemy, fighting not only the weather, but poorly trained, clothed, armed, and fed militia. The discipline was very poor and the morale worse. They endured harsh winters and searing heat (the Battle of Monmouth, where Molly Pitcher proved what women are really made of, was fought in 100 degree heat. Soldiers were as likely to succumb to the heat as to gunfire).

When peace was finally achieved, and the soldiers and officers were decommissioned and allowed to return home, they vowed eternal friendship to one another. Washington, not wanting those ties to be broken, proposed a formal society for his officers called The Society of the Cincinnati. The Society still exists today.

Founded in 1783, with branches in the United States and France, the Society was founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the Revolutionary War officers and to pressure the government to honor pledges it had made to officers who fought for American independence.

The concept of the Society of the Cincinnati was originated from Major General Henry Knox. The first meeting of the Society was held in May 1783 in Fishkill, N.Y., before the British evacuation from New York City. The meeting was chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, and the participants agreed to stay in contact with each other after the war. Membership was generally limited to officers who had served at least three years in the Continental Army or Navy but included officers of the French Army and Navy above certain ranks.

Later, membership was passed down to the eldest son after the death of the original member. Present-day hereditary members generally must be descended from an officer who served in the Continental Army or Navy for at least three years, from an officer who died or was killed in service, or from an officer serving at the close of the Revolution. Each officer may be represented by only one descendant at any given time, following the rules of primogeniture. (The rules of eligibility and admission are controlled by each of the 14 Constituent Societies to which members are admitted. They differ slightly in each society and some allow more than one representative of an eligible officer.)

At the time, America had just freed herself from the hereditary monarchy of England and the formation of this society was considered quite controversial. Washington, upon hearing of its unpopularity just when he was trying to unite the states under a centralized, government, counseled withdrawing that requirement for membership, but today the Society still exists, and membership is, in fact, hereditary (what else could it be, since it was formed for the purposes of officers of the American Revolution?).

The inspiration for the society was an ancient Roman senator named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. He left his farm to accept a term as Roman Consul and then served twice as Magister Populi (with temporary powers similar to that of a modern era dictator), thereby assuming lawful dictatorial control of Rome to meet a war emergency. When the battle was won, he returned power to the Senate and went back to plowing his fields. The Society's motto reflects that ethic of selfless service: Omnia relinquit servare republicam (“He relinquished everything to save the Republic”).

The Society of the Cincinnati has from the beginning had three objectives, referred to as the “Immutable Principles”: “To preserve the rights so dearly won; to promote the continuing union of the states; and to assist members in need, their widows, and their orphans.”

Washington saw himself as a philosophical descent of Cincinnatus. Like the ancient, Washington was a farmer, a warrior, and a presiding officer, who longed to return to the peace of his farm on the James River. If you’ve ever been to his beautiful estate, Mount Vernon, you know why he was homesick. If you haven’t been there, put Mount Vernon on your list of places to see.

He was no politician, playing to the cameras; it was what he felt and what he believed.

Moammar Khadafy, on the other hand, can’t be persuaded to go home to his estate, wherever that is. He loves the camera, and always has some new entertainment for us. The latest news from Khadafy is that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the riots in Tahrir Square.

How that is possible, only Khadafy knows, since U.S. Intelligence informs us that Bin Laden stopped using modern technology years ago because he knew he could be tracked. Intelligence also tells us that Bin Laden has lost credit in the Arab world and packed it in. The Muslims will always protect him, but evidently, they’ve “moved on.”

Earlier this month, secret documents exposed by WikiLeaks revealed that the FBI is hunting for four additional suspected terrorists connected with 9/11. According to a February 2010 memo for the American Embassy in Qatar, four previously unnamed men may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks.

The four carried out surveillance on the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, and the Pentagon three weeks before the attacks. Three of them were booked on a flight from L.A. to D.C. on Sept. 10th, but never boarded. Instead, on Sept. 11th itself, they flew to London and then on to Qatar. Mohamed Al Mansoori is suspected of being their American contact; his whereabouts are unknown.

The cleaning staff of the Los Angeles hotel at which they were staying grew suspicious when the found airline pilot uniforms, laptops, and boxes addressed to the Middle East. When they left the United States, they left behind a mystery for the FBI and Homeland Security. As Fox News’ Shep Smith noted in a conversation with Katherine Herridge, “Something went wrong.”

Whatever went wrong, these three carried the tale back with them to the Middle East. In the ensuing years, U.S. Intelligence began to speculate that Osama had fallen from grace and was no longer a major player. Let’s hope their right and that he doesn’t try to prove them wrong.

As for what went wrong, the only one who can say now what went awry is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and according to officials, he isn’t talking. The last thing we heard from him was his 25-page long rant about George Washington, the American hero. Has Osama decided, in fact, that he’s the American George Washington, and having done his duty, retired from public life?

Like Washington, though, Muslim schoolchildren are being taught to revere him because of the successful attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Just yesterday, the authorities arrested a Saudi Arabian student studying chemical engineering at South Plains College in Texas on a student visa for plotting to murder former President Bush and blow up the New York Stock Exchange and the Statue of Liberty. He said he was inspired by the incendiary speeches of Osama Bin Laden.

This student was about 10 years old on September 11th. But he never forgot the Islamic victory in New York and Washington, D.C., the city named after America’s first president. Osama Bin Laden? General, revolutionary leader able to make tough decisions, statesman, hero, who, like Washington, even made “strategical” retreats? Do they think he’s the 12th Imam?

Or is he the Muslim version of the “next George Washington.”

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