There has been a great deal of intellectual froth over the subject of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Numerous editorials and political cartoons seem to cover the entire intellectual waterfront. Most focus on the continuing sense of loss and grief we feel and ask us to never forget.
Others have a different view. On one end, it is easy to dismiss the crack pots who are still waiting in LaLa Land for the rest of us to catch up with their conclusion that it was really the U.S. Government who did the entire thing. As a person who picked up a piece of AN AIRPLANE at the Pentagon on 9/11, I simply chuckle at these folks and the gullible citizens who still listen to them.
There is a different group I have a problem with, the “We simply overreacted” crowd. Some impute malice to the Bush Administration. The President, the VP, my old boss, and the Attorney General all had been waiting for a chance to eviscerate the Constitution and invade random countries. They didn’t do the attacks themselves, but they were thrilled to take advantage of the situation. I guess the fact that it caused them to do exactly the opposite of so many of their campaign promises (end overseas deployments, abandon nation building, do massive deficit spending, etc) can just be ignored.
Others are more reasonable (I guess) but more pompous. These folks insist that while the Bushies may not have intended to do such terrible things to our way of life, they did. They could have clearly taken a more reasonable course of action, never did anything that changed our way of life (airport security, etc.) and everything would have been just fine. After all, nothing bad has happened in the intervening 10 years, so OBVIOUSLY all that stuff was a waste of money, of good will, of our own rights and comfort.
I respectfully say to those people that you are massively and tragically wrong. It is very easy to “sniff” and pontificate now. No one’s life is in your hands, let alone the responsibility for an entire nation of stunned and frightened Americans. Until you have gone down into that arena, you have no valid position from which to look back and make such declarations.
No one (even President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, or VP Cheney) would say that everything was done perfectly. There were clearly things we could have done more artfully and with more precision. Everything that was attempted was done based on the best information and informed by heartfelt and passionate debate among this Nation’s leaders. (Yes Virginia, there was a huge amount of internal debate during the last administration, and everyone got their say, at the White House, at the Pentagon, and during National Security Council meetings.) What they did was justified, and it kept the people of this country safer than they would have been otherwise.
Al Qaeda did not simply atrophy over the last ten years – it has been harried, hunted killed and captured. They went from being the Rock Stars of the Islamic world to being nearly an anachronism (not yet completely so). That is not an overreaction, it is a victory, and it is justice for the nearly 3000 victims of al Qaeda’s savage actions ten years ago.
Have we been inconvenienced by measures taken since 9/11? Yes. If you want to complain, do so to Usama Bin Laden, not the U.S. government. Oh that’s right, you can’t complain to UBL; we got him. We got him before he could hurt anyone else.
The thousands of men and women of the military, intelligence services, law enforcement agencies, and even the politicians deserve our thanks. We’re still here, and we can still have this debate because they did their jobs so well. America has issues, but it is still the best place in the world to be a citizen. If that sounds jingoistic, sue me. I was in the Pentagon on 9/11, and so was my wife. I know in my heart as well as my head. Our leaders didn’t overreact; they did exactly what was needed. I salute them.