Eight years later. What have we learned?
Posted by Euroranger on September 11, 2009
Today is the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, knocked a pretty fair chunk out of the Pentagon and saw normal American airline passengers lay down their lives to avert a 4th jet from doing the same or worse to the White House or the Capitol Building. Since then we’ve seen the country come together, fly apart and we’ve sent soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq both and 8 years later and through all that we still don’t have Osama Bin Laden in custody or his head mounted on a wall in the Oval Office. We disposed of two hostile governments in the Middle East, scared the piss out of Libya, Iran and North Korea badly enough for them to briefly suspend or abandon their nuclear activities altogether, saw Syria get the boot from Lebanon by ordinary Lebanese people fed up with their occupation and witnessed Israel fight to a draw with Hezbollah.
Lots of events, to be sure…but what have we learned? Aside from the obvious life-threatening dangers posed by shampoo bottles and nail clippers on airplanes, what has changed here at home?
Sadly, when you take an objective look at what should have changed, what actually has changed and what everyone wishes changed but didn’t, you get a pretty healthy dose of sobering reality and an education into the gnat-sized attention span of Americans and our allies.
One of the things that changed, for a time anyway, was we got serious with the world again. That is, we didn’t simply sit around and take it and wring our hands about it and then moan and rock back and forth as we blamed ourselves for what someone else did to us. For once, and it apparently only happens when we’re 100% in the right (which kind of disagrees with me but that’s another story), an event happened, we decided on who was “right” and who was “wrong” and we acted on it. Now, later of course, much was made over the accuracy of identifying who was in the wrong but for once pretty much all Americans were in agreement that somebody had done something, that that something was of a nature so egregious as to elicit an actual response warmer than appointing a committee to investigate it and we actually went through with the action. Now, I’m not advocating that we go about half-cocked and figuratively punch every little country in the mouth everytime they offend us (although, in less sober moments that’s pretty much exactly what I’ll blather about). However, the United States is really the last actual superpower in the world and while it IS incumbent upon us to exercise our unmatched force with exceptional care, when we DO exercise it there ought not to be any doubt (particularly on the part of the excisee) that we mean business and that business involves kicking a second crack in their ass as a reminder that fucking with the world’s only remaining superpower might just not be the best idea. This is what we did in Afghanistan and this was absolutely, 100% RIGHT.
A side note at this point is called for. Whenever I have the audacity to mention that the United States is the world’s only superpower invariably some milquetoast, whiny, hand-wringing, sensitive type will hasten to remind me that there’s still China and Russia. Guess what: we’re much more capable than either of them and Afghanistan proved the point. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the very zenith of their military power, with around 5 times the number of personnel the United States used…and they proceeded to lose and lose big. Russia today is nowhere near the power that the Soviet Union was in the 1980’s and today they can’t even hold down frickin’ Chechnya. The US, by contrast, put a lot less boots on the ground, did it whilst they were fully engaged in Iraq (with an even bigger force committed there) and then proceeded the beat the everloving hell out of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The Taliban is making a comeback in a few areas solely because we’re not prosecuting them with the full might we might bring to bear on them. In other words, they’re making hay whilst we snooze. And don’t get me started on China. Once they build themselves a navy and can project force further out from their shores than Taiwan perhaps they’ll be worth worrying about but not until that day. Course, they may make it back to the moon before we do…but it’ll only be because they need to clear a spot for Walmart to build a LunarSuperCenter so they can sell more Chinese crap. Taikonauts indeed.
What hasn’t changed that needs to change is that we need to capture or kill Osama. I’d put a very heavy emphasis on the capture option if possible. Nothing would be better than bringing him to justice, having a trial, finding him guilty then publicly executing his sorry ass. This would be much better than having him eat a Predator missile…although if option 1: capture isn’t feasible, option:2 blow his ass to the Muslim version of hell is okay with me. This is a mission that the United States needs to focus on, fund and finish off like we did the race to the moon in the 1960’s. Before the decade is out, stamp paid on the account of that bearded mass-murdering freak who falsely hides behind religion so ignorant muslims around the world will support him. And that’s another thing that needs to change: somehow, somebody needs to get the notion across to the Islamic world that if you’re a murdering sociopath you’re not somehow given a bye on your criminal activities if you claim you do such things “in the name of Allah”. Amongst no other group in the world does the population at large shrink from condemning a criminal of his magnitude simply because he claims he’s doing it in the name of God. What the hell, isn’t there an imam anywhere out there with the stature to call “bullshit” on that crap? I’m sure there is but how is it that the people in general don’t exercise a little “common sense” (surely they have some) and say “hey, he just murdered a boatload of innocent muslims…that seems bad and I shouldn’t cheer for him or even lend him a sympathetic thought”? Because sure as hell Al Qaeda has merrily slaughtered MANY more Muslims than they have Americans and other infidels…you’d think they’d notice that.
Sadly though, the most noticeable effect of the distance we now stand from September 11, 2001 is how much less vigilant and how flip we take everyday life to be. Democrats made huge political hay out of the overall response to 9/11 knowing damned well that as a result of the systematic mismanagement and neglect of the American intelligence apparatus of preceding administrations, the president on 9/11 knew next to nothing concrete about who was doing what elsewhere in the world…and yet failure to act could have destroyed the confidence the rest of the world had in the United States, emboldened our enemies and probably would have precipitated a collapse of western economies that would have made the current recession look like a sunny day in the park. To make political points off such a situation disgusts me. To cower behind those reasons and fail to do the right thing because the price for such sloth was so ably and recently illustrated with the deaths of 3000+ American citizens is equally bad. In short, I’m disgusted beyond belief at what use the two major political parties make of this tragedy solely to further their own means. When did an American citizen’s identity change from “American” to “Republican” or “Democrat”? Lord knows, I sure as hell missed that memo. The mass of the American people are too damned preoccupied with their iPods, their Nintendo Wiis and being titillated at the revelations on Survivor or Grey’s Anatomy to care enough to keep the pressure on our government to do something permanent about it. Yeah, all it takes is a few years of “no mooslims bombing the local shopping mall” for people to assume that all is well and we can go back to our daily lives of mass consumption and mass apathy. There are so many things wrong with this country and so little being done to actually right them that an occasion like this has now devolved into a day where the president declares it a “day of service”. The mayor of New York, the community hardest hit on 9/11 had this to say:
“From this day forward, we will safeguard the memories of those who died by rekindling the spirit of service that lit our city with hope and helped keep us strong,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the ceremony.
How nice. Not a single frickin’ word about “find that bastard, exact righteous revenge on him and his and hold his head on a pike as a warning to others”. No, I guess that would be too raw, too emotional, too…active. There is a reason the human psyche embraces and seeks revenge for wrongs committed. It’s cathartic and serves as a warning to those who might consider doing something equally abhorrent in the future.
But we’re “civilized” and above all that I guess. More’s the pity as our enemies pretty much equate “civility” with “weakness”. They WILL strike again one day…and I guess even more people will end up dead because we as a nation cannot stay focused long enough to even get the job done. The victims of 9/11 deserve more than a declared “day of service” and maudlin expressions of woe and sorrow from our elected leaders. They deserve long-delayed justice.
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.