September 11, 2009
WAR: Remember, After Eight Years
Where have we come, 8 years later?
We haven't had a significant followup attack in the US or on US interests abroad, outside of the active war zones; there have been other terrorist attacks, some only tenuously connected (anthrax), some copycat (the DC snipers, the LAX shooting), but the enemy has been unable to organize anything against us, having to settle for attacking US allies (London, Madrid, Bali). That's partly luck, partly the result of vigilant new policies instituted by the Bush Administration, and partly the result of going on the offensive overseas - killing scores of jihadist fanatics, disrupting or beseiging safe havens, drawing the enemy's attention to Afghanistan and Iraq instead of New York and DC.
But we seem to be unlearning too many of those lessons. As I have stressed many times before, I don't blame the Clinton Administration, at least not significantly more than the rest of our political culture, for its disastrously misguided anti-terror policies, but we need to learn from the mistakes of the 1990s. The Bush Administration learned those lessons; Obama's team, especially his Clinton Administration retread Attorney General, seem dedicated to unlearning too many of them, focusing their efforts on prosecuting the intelligence community and dismantling many of the tools needed to continue keeping us safe, while the President himself uses the occasion of a major speech two days before this anniversary to complain about the money spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the former of which he claims to support. But what can you say about a man whose reaction to attacks planned by wealthy, educated Saudi religious fanatics was this:
We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
(The latter would be less offensive if he wasn't so opposed to actually doing something about the tyrannies that keep the Muslim and Arab worlds in the state they are in). I give Obama some credit for maturity - he has left in place a number of controversial Bush initiatives in areas such as electronic surveillance and hasn't totally cut off existing policies on detention and rendition (although his use of rendition in an antitrust case was an unusual tactic), and while he has cut back on the troops he promised for Afghanistan, he hasn't yet abandoned the fight against the Taliban, as many of his allies on the Left are urging. But the overall record hardly inspires confidence that the next four years will be as secure as the past 8.
On the downside, while we've captured or killed many of the key 9/11 plotters (some of whom, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have become perverse poster boys for the Left's campaign against intelligence-gathering), Osama bin Laden has never been captured, and it is believed that he is as likely as not still alive and traveling about the Waziristan region of Pakistan. If you'd asked me 8 years ago if I'd trade no more attacks for no bin Laden, I'd have taken that trade, but of course I still await the day we have his head on a pole (ideally, literally, though I'd prefer burning him at the stake). That's unfinished business, even if his operational usefulness to his movement is severely limited by his need to keep running and hiding and avoiding all modern forms of communication.
When will the war end? Aside from getting bin Laden and other top fugitives, the fight will continue as long as there are organized terrorist groups targeting the US. We can never totally stamp out individual fanatics, but organized groups with international reach are the core enemy. And of course, those groups can't be wholly rooted out unless and until the tyrannies that support and harbor them and spread their propaganda remain. Those are the terms on which we have been forced to fight; they are the conditions required for victory.
As long as we remember why and how the fight began, we must remain committed, as a nation, to seeing it through to victory. And so we remember.
RIP-Christopher Hanley and Matt Yarnell
Sadly, the current Administration seems to have no appetite for the hard (and sometimes distasteful) work necessary to ensure that we not only prevent further attacks on our homeland, but win against the virulent mindset that wants to destroy us.
Obama seems to think that Health Insurance companies with that nasty overhead of "profit" that they have to deal with as a bigger existential threat to his vision of the USA than jihadism.
He (Obama) is taking a huge bet. Any terrorist incident in the next 3 and a half years, and he'll be banished to the ring in Presidential history currently occupied only by Hoover and Nixon.
I agree fully with your closing thouhgt that we need to remember "why and how the fight began."
Your analysis of the actions of the Bush Administration following the attack, as well as the Obama Administration's policies since the election could not be more wrong.
In fact, almost immediately Cheney and his band of merry men ignored "why and how the fight began" and instituted a fool's errand invasion of Iraq, perhaps in an attempt to prove his manhood after thirty years as a chicken hawk who had "other priorities." Not only did we waste the lives of the military men and women who died or were injured in this side event, but we pissed away all the good will that followed after the attack and, Obama's point, money that you are now sudddenly concerned about when it is being spent to help working people.
Moreover, while you conservatives once stood for "law and order," you want now to excuse and ignore the crimes against humanity authorized at the highest levels of the Administration. This most assuredly is not, "criminalization of policy differences," it is criminalization of criminal acts. We executed Germans and Japanese soldiers and officials for exactly the types of acts you now condone. (Take a look at the end of Judgment at Nuremburg some time, particularly the reasoning expressed by the presiding judge, played by Spencer Tracy, if you want to be reminded of what our country used to stand for.)
Finally, torture doesn't work. It produces information, but not reliable information. The Bush Administration made us significantly less safe. And that should be remembered on this anniversary too.
It's been eight years since we were last attacked - the longest strectch of time in my life. The facts seem to dispute your claim of us being less safe now.
Sorry for the typo in your name on my last comment. It was a legitimate error on my part and an attempt to knock you in any way.
Magrooder-please just crawl back under your rock and spare us from your lies, straw men arguments, and usual left wing alternate reality. The less safe meme had been so utterly destroyed by actual events and history that most lefty drones don't even attempt it anymore. Sort of like how the left has stopped railing against deficits since obumbler has quadrupled the deficit.
Non-uniformed combatants in WW2, who BTW actually belonged to countries that were signatories to the geneva Convention, were summarily shot in the head. FDR and Truman fire bombed civilian targets in Germany and Japan-God bless them
Not much point responding to some of those shopworn talking points, but the one that is relatively new is the assertion that because we spent money on a war we should spend even more money on a permanent social program. There really isn't even a shred of logic there.
Spending taxpayer money is never a good thing, but if it's worth going to war, you spend the money. World War II was frightfully expensive, but (1) eventually the main expenses it created ended, unlike the New Deal, and (2) it was not true that everyone who supported fighting Hitler and Tojo was forevermore disqualified from objecting to a domestic program on the grounds (among others) of it being expensive.
Or, because you have no answers? I didn't think so.
Do you wilfully misread or is it just weakness in analysis? No idea.
In any case, the point is not that wars should be avoided becasue they are expensive. It is, again, pointless and stupid wars should not be fought AND if you are going to spend money, you should be honest about funding it. Bush fought a stupid war and he was dishonest about the cost.
Chris Graham, no offense taken. Are you under 10 years old?
dch, not try at the Joe Wilson impression, but he appears to be functiional so you don't quite measure up.
Fuck September 11th.
If George W. Bush wasn't interested enough to look into how it went down, why should anyone else care?
The less safe meme had been so utterly destroyed by actual events and history that most lefty drones don't even attempt it anymore. Sort of like how the left has stopped railing against deficits since obumbler has quadrupled the deficit