Bin Laden’s objective on 9/11 was not simply to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rather, these were the means to an end. Terrorists kill to induce people to alter their behavior, to force them into bad decisions or tempt a government to crack down on their populations.
In our case, we’ve bled ourselves dry on military adventures around the world.
Afghanistan is now the longest war in the history of the United States. A few countries over, U.S. forces are once more on the ground in Iraq. Our troops are deployed on every corner of the globe while their combat readiness declines. Aircraft crashes are up. We’ve seen unprecedented ship collisions and a significant rise in suicides among members of the military. Our veteran care system is ungainly and dysfunctional. Our international influence is waning.
These problems are a direct consequence of our military misadventures brought about by fear. The damage we have wrought upon ourselves far exceeds what Al Qaeda could ever have achieved on its own accord.
Some believe that U.S. intervention in Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda was necessary and that these actions have made us safer. Trump explicitly used this argument when he said that “thanks to the vigilance and skill of the American military and of our many allies throughout the world, horrors on the scale of Sept. 11th… have not been repeated on our shores.”
Better U.S. security, however, is not a product of the U.S military actions. It is a consequence of better policing, screening and surveillance, as well as heightened vigilance.
Conversely, American military actions in the Middle East and Central Asia have reduced our security by extending the narrative of an East-West divide. We lend ammunition to the propaganda and recruiting efforts of Islamic extremists.
This is not to say that the U.S. should immediately abandon Afghanistan or Iraq, or that we should abrogate our responsibilities to our allies in the region. Rather, as we look to the future, we must carefully meter our emotions, be prepared to acknowledge our folly and back away from unending war.
Even as 9/11 slips deeper into distant memory, it continues to drive our policies. We will likely face more terror acts in the future which will re-inflame our fears. But we must keep in mind that no terrorist is, or will ever be, an existential threat to the United States. Only our response to terrorism can destroy our way of life.
so is moa zedong-the little red book is alive and well. died in 1976 but lives on all over china and the rest of the world.
This ignores several important facts. One, radical Islamists are going to hate us and want to kill us no matter what we do. The 9/11 attacks were not provoked; they were the retaliation for us existing.
Also, complaining about how long the war in Afghanistan has lasted ignored that we just got through wasting 8 years there. General McChrystal wanted 30,000 troops for a spring offensive against the Taliban. Obama dawdled until it was too late, then sent 10,000. Then, we are back in Iraq because of Obama bumbling. Had he not needed headlines, perhaps Iraq would be more self sufficient now instead of fighting ISIS.
Yeah, bin Laden still exists, revitalized by mistakes such as leaving an endangered consulate vulnerable and allowing ISIS to spread like a plague. Asking forgiveness is not going to convince radical Islamists to stop trying to destroy us.