September 11, 2007
WAR: Not Forgetting
It only hit me when we turned over the calendar to September that the 11th would be on a Tuesday this year. Mercifully, it's a rainy morning; yesterday was more reminiscent of the day. This video of the news reports at 8am that morning should bring it back.
For remembering the events of September 11, I still can't add to what I wrote when it was still fresh in my mind.
We have been fortunate indeed - and it is not just luck, of course - that there has been no follow-up attack within the U.S. in the six succeeding years. I have to say, I'm increasingly pessimistic that this can keep up, especially in light of the Left's continuous and longstanding assault on every method of intelligence-gathering we have - electronic surveillance, interrogation of captured detainees, boots on the ground, covert operations, use of defectors and double-agents, reports by citizens of suspicious behavior - and on our ability to act on them.
It is altogether fitting that this day in Washington is taken up with the question of whether and how the United States will continue the fight in Iraq. One of the central facts that the Vietnam analogists always ignore is the geographic, strategic and cultural centrality of Iraq to the Arab and Muslim worlds, which of course are the origin of the threat that struck us on that September morning. The case for abandoning Vietnam would have been far weaker had the war been fought in Poland. These days, the anti-war crowd is mainly occupied with contortions to prove that we are not actually fighting Al Qaeda and related jihadists in Iraq. But short of admitting that we were not going to conduct a broad offensive campaign to get to the problem at its roots, there was never a good answer to how we were going to win a war on terror with Saddam at our back, as he would have been had we started the second stage (after Afghanistan) anywhere else. And today, the option of having a "do-over" of the past five years having faded into the alt-history swamp, the question is still more pressing: given that the very ideological forces we are fighting, and who attacked us that day, have made it a priority to defeat the United States in Iraq, how can the wider war be won without it being seen that the U.S. has defeated them there?
I'm thankful this morning for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan precisely because I remember that morning six years ago.
You are right Crank, our first thoughts today need to turn to the brave men and women that are defending us. Secondly, we need to remember the brave men and women who served so well on 9/11/01. Thirdly, we need to remember the families of both groups, many of which have paid the ultimate price to protect us and keep us free.
What many fail to notice is that the reason the situation in Iraq is improving is that we have not left, but stayed the course. Our failures at the end of the Gulf War to finish the job and support the forces that wanted freedom then have lead to our current situation. This is a job that has to be finished and finished now. If it is not, our children and grandchildren will be fighting this fight.
Every time we do not finish the job or actively pursue terrorist activity, we embolden the OBL's of the world and reinforce to them that we do not have the resolve to confront them. Let's get behind our military and support them in every way we can. This is not about politics, this is about making sure that 9/11 is not repeated.
God Bless America!!!!
First thoughts? Funny, the first things you had to say were to lay the groundwork for blaming the left for the inevitible follow-up attack.
Dan, you wrote one of the best, most poignant pieces about the events on 9/11 that I've ever read. I mean that. But today's post comes nowhere close to that—all politics and completely one-sided. I'm disappointed.
It has always amazed me how little appreciation the left, democrats, and the media have for the people who have prevented another 9/11 over the last 6 years. They never acknowledge that Bush, the soldiers, and others have done such a great job in protecting us.
Also the lack of effort by Clinton & Co. to protect us during the 90's is never mentioned by these same people. God help us if Hillary takes over!
I always recall that all of us were thankful on 9/11 that Bush was President instead of Gore. Al Gore was probably just as thankful himself!
Your post suggests that the rationale for the Iraq war was to get Saddam out of the way so that we could conduct a broader offensive campaign against terror. The problem that the left and many moderates have with the war is that is not how the war was publicly justified by Bush. The rationale was that Saddam harbored WMD that could wind up in the hands of terrorists - a claim which still hasn't been substantiated to the satisfaction of many. To the left, the thesis that Iraq paved the way for our terror efforts elsewhere in the Middle East sounds disingenuous, and to my knowledge, was not part of any of Bush's public statements at the beginning. Given the way the war was packaged, Republicans should not be surprised at the continued skepticism.
Of course, if it was Bush's intention to remove Saddam to facilitate wider anti-terror operations in the Middle East, it would have been diplomatic blunder of epic proportions if he publicly announced that at the start of the war - we would have been alone for sure. I do believe that was the administration's rationale at the beginning - but I must admit, I did not see any public evidence of that at the beginning.
I don't see a problem with that policy either, since we did the world and Iraq a favor by removing a brutal dictator and at the same time furthering our national interests. But I take it as an article of faith that the Bush administration had that in mind at the beginning, simply because I cannot believe that any administration would go to war based solely on the rather flimsy evidence he had regarding WMDs in Iraq.
Serious question: How come nearly every Republican credits Bush for "keeping our country safe" over the last six years, but never acknowledges Clinton technically did the same thing after the 1993 WTC attack? Also, if we're playing this silly blame game, 9/11 occurred in 2001, over eight months after Bush assumed the duties of president and one month after receiving a document reading, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."
Hussein was a bad, evil man. He was also a thoroughly contained, bad, evil man. Certainly not worth the thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent on this adventure. Most Americans acknowledge this truth. Sadly, because the Republicans in Congress continue to hold on to hope that we'll "win" in Iraq (whatever that means), we'll be there at least until a Democrat is elected President in 2008.
especially in light of the Left's continuous and longstanding assault on every method of intelligence-gathering we have - electronic surveillance, interrogation of captured detainees, boots on the ground, covert operations, use of defectors and double-agents, reports by citizens of suspicious behavior - and on our ability to act on them.
especially in light of the Bush Administration's continuous and longstanding assault on the rulle of law and every Constitutional protection we have - warrantless surveillance, torture of captured detainees, failing to equip the boots on the ground, isolating the U.S., squandering our position on the high ground and unity with the world after 9/11 and most of all enflaming the Middle East and creating a breeding and training ground for terrorism like the world has never seen before.
I feel safer.
thankful on 9/11 that Bush was President instead of Gore
Gore might have put down his children's book at the time, and ended up going after the right guy. Better yet, he might have paid attention to the warnings beforehand...
The problems I have with the war is not an either/or. It's both. And everything I've seen since does little to convince ME that this Administration wouldn't (and didn't) got to war basedon flimsy evidence. In fact, I'm now convinced they did it knowing how flimsy it was.
I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. I believed another Vietnam could be avoided with defined missions and the best armaments in the world.
It made no difference.
We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:
Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.
There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.
So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.
This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.
The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
For more details see:
RCM - I agree. At the time of the war, Saddam Hussein was contained to the extent that he represented a threat to the rest of the world. And it wasn't -essential- to U.S. interests at the time (or now, for that matter) to have a democratic Iraq, as nice as it would be to have it democratic. Neither of those grounds, in my mind, would justify the invasion.
I do think, however, that after September 11, the U.S. needed to send a strong military message to al-Queda, and the states that sponsored and harbored the terrorists needed to be held accountable. I think the Iraq invasion, in the eyes of the administration, was the most expedient way to accomplish that. It served as base of operation, and it also gave terrorists a target outside the US so they wouldn't be targeting Main Street, USA.
I reluctantly support the invasion to the extent it is a means to go after al-Queda. I am reluctant because I am not sure whether this administration, or the next one, whether Democratic or Republican, will know when the right time is to pull out. It worries me that the Republicans are measuring the success of the war on terror by the ability to secure a "stable and democratic Iraq", whatever that is. The fact of the matter is that Iraq's stability is not entirely under our control. The Iraqi's have to cooperate. As much as Republicans say that Iraq is not Vietnam, it is not exactly post-WWII Japan either. The country has not comfortably and peacefully transitioned to democracy for a number of reasons, and the terrorists are not entirely responsible for that. And we can debate which of the militants are terrorists and which are Iraqi's that resent our presence, but a longstanding US military presence in Iraq will help terrorists to recruit more members, and even democracy-loving Iraqi's will become less tolerant of our presence.
"Serious question: How come nearly every Republican credits Bush for "keeping our country safe" over the last six years, but never acknowledges Clinton technically did the same thing after the 1993 WTC attack?"
Because al-Qaeda was just starting out in the 90's. The first WTC attack wasn't the start of a major offensive, more like a trial run. They had to train tens of thousands first and tighten their grip on Afghanistan and spread throughout the world. Clinton did nothing to protect us, it's only coincidental that al-Qaeda's big blow came after he was out of office.
"Also, if we're playing this silly blame game, 9/11 occurred in 2001, over eight months after Bush assumed the duties of president and one month after receiving a document reading, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."
History does not begin with the Bush Adminstration. We knew since 1998 that bin Laden wanted to strike us, so a memo saying bin Laden wants to attack was not some new, unique bit of information that you so disingenuously pretend it was.
I'd love to hear from the anti-Bush crowd what they think the world would look like today if we hadn't invaded Iraq?
I think it is impossible to know as the assumption would be that Bush and Co. would have been able to do something productive with the time and money they have spent on Iraq. It seems that they are either not capable of that or not interested in that. On the far-flung assumption that they would have acted in a responsible manner I can imagine a world in which Osama Bin Laden is either in prison or dead, Al Qaeda has less jihadists rather than more, Hussein while possibly still in power is a pop-gun dictator, Iran has moved closer to the West, New Orleans has been re-built and maybe all the Republican closet queens could have come safely out into the light.
Oh, and less dead Americans (soldiers and civilians) and Iraqi civilians, more unity with countries that are now on the fringe of being our allies and no Vatican-sized embassy being built in Baghdad.
The "Clinton did nothing" meme is not at all supported by the facts.
I'm thankful this morning for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan precisely because I remember that morning six years ago.
That's fair enough. As a New Yorker, I hear you, and knowing you worked in the WTC, I'm very sensitive to your feelings.
But I got news for you -- your fear doesn't justify national policy. Everyone gets scared sometimes. Doesn't mean the government's job is to assuage everyone's fear all the time.
Yes. Really: (h/t Walter_Map)
Clinton vs. Terror, Republicans vs. Clinton
President Clinton led the fight against terrorism over strong opposition from Republicans in Congress and the pro-Republican Media. Here's a partial - yet incredibly long - list of accomplishments against terrorism for which the Clinton Administration gets almost no credit or even recognition. President Clinton:
-- sent legislation to Congress to TIGHTEN AIRPORT SECURITY. (Remember, this is before 911) The legislation was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the airlines.
-- sent legislation to Congress to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF TERRORIST FUNDING. It was defeated by Republicans in the Senate because of opposition from banking interests.
-- sent legislation to Congress to add tagents to explosives, to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF EXPLOSIVES USED BY TERRORISTS. It was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the NRA.
When Republicans couldn't prevent executive action, President Clinton:
-- Developed the nation's first anti-terrorism policy, and appointed first national coordinator.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up 12 U.S. jetliners simultaneously.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up UN Headquarters.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up FBI Headquarters.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
--Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Boston airport.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Lincoln and Holland Tunnels in NY.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the George Washington Bridge.
-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the US Embassy in Albania.
-- Tried to kill Osama bin Laden and disrupt Al Qaeda through preemptive strikes (efforts denounced by the G.O.P.).
-- Brought perpetrators of first World Trade Center bombing and CIA killings to justice.
-- Did not blame Bush I administration for first World Trade Center bombing even though it occurred 38 days after they had left office. Instead, worked hard, even obsessively -- and successfully -- to stop future terrorist attacks.
-- Named the Hart-Rudman commission to report on nature of terrorist threats and major steps to be taken to combat terrorism.
-- Tripled the budget of the FBI for counterterrorism and doubled overall funding for counterterrorism.
-- Detected and destroyed cells of Al Qaeda in over 20 countries
-- Created a national stockpile of drugs and vaccines including 40 million doses of smallpox vaccine.
-- Robert Oakley, Reagan Counterterrorism Czar says of Clinton's efforts "Overall, I give them very high marks" and "The only major criticism I have is the obsession with Osama"
-- Paul Bremer, Bush's Administrator of Iraq disagrees slightly with Robert Oakley saying he believed the Clinton Administration had "correctly focused on bin Laden. "
-- Barton Gellman of the Washington Post put it best, "By any measure available, Clinton left office having given greater priority to terrorism than any president before him" and was the "first administration to undertake a systematic anti-terrorist effort."
I know it screws-up your RNC Talking Point, but them's the facts.
Why do you guys hate America so much?
Why be concerned with reality when there is so much Fox "News" to be watched?
Leftists crack me up. Aside from the mind-numbed repetition of bringing up "Fox" news like some ghastly ghoul in the night (I have watched approximately five minutes of Fox News since election night), it's amusing to watch them drool over some guy's pretty bullet-point list. "Ooooh, shiny." No thought is given to the substance of any of the spcific buillet-points - I mean, some of those thwarted attacks involved luck more than planning, especially the airport attack, nor is there consideration that any of this hardly qualifies as a bonanza of evidence to prove that the Clinton administration had any real plan in place to significantly confront terrorism. Sure, it shows that they had a few ideas, none of which probably would have led to the thwarting of 9/11, but that doesn't matter, because there were like a lot of pretty dashes in that paragraph.
And conservatives are supposed to be the dumb ones.
I guess that 5 minutes really did you in.
Clinton's successes = luck
Bush's failures = Clinton's fault
That about sum up your position in bullet points, Paul?
Actually, Paul, us lefties don't find lists of facts quite so dazzling or confusing. Just useful. Try it sometime.