Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remembering 9/11, Eight Years Later

Eight years ago tomorrow, airliners struck New York City's World Trade Center, another crashed into the Pentagon while the passengers and crew of Flight 93 kept their airliner from reaching its target.

Two years ago, when I began writing this blog, America was unilaterally going it alone in Iraq, leading more more than two dozen other nations under a United Nations mandate. (June 11, 2008, August 9, 2007)

Today, 105 of the 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower is visible - in the form of steel beams and enough concrete to make 100 miles of New York City sidewalks (New York Daily News) About a thousand people took part in a Run to Remember, some of them raising money for charity in the process.

What's Next?

Prediction is a dicey proposition at best, but this seems likely enough:

Two years from now, I expect that America will still be taking military action in Afghanistan. Whether this country will be "going it along" with NATO, or "unilaterally" leading another coalition, I can't guess.

Eight years from now, the focus of the war on terror will likely be elsewhere: maybe Somalia or Sudan; maybe Iran or even Saudi Arabia.

Eighty years from now, the war on terror may be over - but I wouldn't count on it.

Unlike wars between nation-states, the war on terror is against groups of religious zealots who are loosely aligned with each other, and can travel around the world: settling wherever they can find support - willing or otherwise.

There isn't a headquarters to capture or a capital city to occupy; There aren't factories to bomb or, for the most part, permanent bases to attack.

That doesn't mean that this war is unwinnable. It does, I think, mean that it's going to be a slow process of
  • Preventing Islamic crazies from taking control of countries, as the Taliban did with Afghanistan
  • Spotting and stopping efforts to reprise the 9/11 attacks
  • Encouraging people in the Islamic world to at least consider the possibility that the outside world isn't all bad
America has done quite a bit, pursuing that last point, in Iraq: rebuilding hospitals and sewage plants, and helping Iraqis sort out three decades of neglect by Saddam Hussein. (January 11, 2008)

We're Winning

A sustained willingness to use military force is, I think, vital to stopping the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and all the other Islamic fanatics. (Note: That's "Islamic fanatics" - Al Qaeda and the Taliban are at least as much a threat to Muslims as they are to the rest of the world.) However, I also think that some of the important victories in the war on terror won't be military.

Re-building New York City's World Trade Center; remaining a country that people try to break into, not out of; and being willing to lead even if the French government doesn't approve: These things are important.

And, I think that five former American secretaries of state are right. America must lead.

Here's a summary of their advice to the next president:
  • Get real
  • Be smart
  • The world is a complicated place
  • America has to lead
  • Play down the ideology
  • Approach the world
    • Rationally
    • With perspective
    (September 23, 2008)
I don't think the five former secretaries of state were spot-on in every detail: but I think they had the right idea.

This country isn't perfect, but it's the only nation on Earth with the tradition of freedom, the military forces, and the willingness to act, that's needed to get past discussions of agendas and resolutions.

Related posts: In the news: Background:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.