On September 11, 2001 al Qaeda, a group of Wahhabi Islamists led by Osama bin Laden, managed the worst foreign attack ever on American soil ever. Using passenger jets as weapons of mass slaughter, they killied nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children. The attack was a surprise to most Americans. Few realized, just the day before, on September 10, 2001, the nature of the threat against us rising in the Middle East, nor, for that matter, that such a threat existed.
Since 9-11, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost the lives of thousands of American fighting men and women in what was once known as the "war on terror," a term Obama later sanitized to "overseas contingency operations." Between September 11, 2001 and today, we drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan, though they have since mounted a partial comeback. We drove the Ba'athits from power in Iraq as part of a war of choice to try to bring democracy and moderation to the Middle East. We rid the world of many an evil man, either by capture of death, such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein. We have kept America safe from any large scale terror attacks. And, in an act of great symbolic importance, we brought justice to Osama bin Laden. He sleeps with the fishes.
So are we safer today, eleven years on from 9-11? We as a nation certainly seem to feel so. Washington today will be "business as usual," according to Dana Milbank. There will be a smattering of memorial services in Washington, but, Milbank tells us, that "the day that changed the nation is becoming more and more ordinary . . . Sept. 11, 2001 is on its way to joining Dec. 7, 1941 — more historical, less raw." But it is very much a false sense of security for no, we are not safer today. For the past eleven years, our soldiers and intelligence services have performed brilliantly. They have done all that we have asked of them. And yet, the future in the Middle East and, more particularly, as regards the radical Islamists, looks far more threatening today than it did on September 10, 2001.
On September 10, 2001, no Islamic radicals had access to nuclear weapons. Today, Iran, the world's most ardent supporter of terrorism, a regime every bit as bloody minded, radical, expansionist and Jew-hating as was Nazi Germany, is on the brink of creating nuclear weapons.
On September 10, 2001, Pakistan, the only Islamic nuclear nation, was under the control of a nominally secular military dictator. Today, Pakistan is a hot bed of radical Islam, a failed state, and evermore our enemy.
On September 10, 2001, Turkey was a secular nation, an ally of the U.S. and a friend to Israel. Today, Turkey is well down the path to being Islamicized by PM Erdogan, who, not long ago, conducted a coup against secularists in control of the Turkish military. Erdogan dreams of reestablishing Turkey as the head of a new Caliphate and has warmed to Iran.
On September 10, 2001, Egypt was a dictatorship friendly to the U.S. and cooperative with Israel. Today, after the "Arab Spring," Egypt is under the control of the radical Muslim Brotherhood - the organization that spawned al Qaeda and shares every one of al-Qaeda's goals. The secularists who led the revolution that deposed the Mubarak dictatorship are already under brutal assault from their new regime and its Islamist supporters. The Muslim Brotherhood government has already led a coup against the military, which many in the West hoped to be a restraining influence in Egypt. Indeed, Egypt seems to be following the same pattern that took Iran from revolution in 1979 to a radical theocracy but two years later.
On September 10, 2001, the PLO nominally controlled the Gaza strip, subject to Israeli oversight. Today, Hamas, a bloody terrorist organization, fully controls the Gaza strip, the PLO has joined with them, and the Obama regime is funding them, at least indirectly, to the tune of almost a billion dollars..
On September 10, 2001, Lebanon was divided between Syrian occupation in the north and Israeli occupation to the south. Today, Lebanon is virtually a puppet regime of Iran, ruled only with the continuing approval of Hezbollah. It is armed to the teeth with Iranian supplied rockets pointed at Israel.
On September 10, 2001, Syria was a secular dictatorship under the Assad / Alawite clan and an ally of Iran. Today, Syria is involved in a brutal "civil war;" but . . . a large number, perhaps a majority, of the people fighting Assad for control are not beleagured Syrian citizens, but foreign Islamists bent on deposing Assad in order to put in place their own Sunni theocracy. Indeed, as one Syrian General recently opined,
"Of Western, and particularly European, attitudes to the battles, he voiced disbelief. "Don't they understand that we are the last dam that is holding back the flood of Islamists in Europe," he asked. "What blindness."
Just as Egypt's former dictator Mubarak rightly warned us that he was the bulwark against the Islamists in Egypt, I think that the Syrian general might well be right as regards Syria, not to mention what it will mean for Europe if Assad falls to the Islamists. And we seem to be doing nothing to influence the situation.
On September 10, 2001, Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein. We got rid of him and installed what was to be a democracy. But desperate to mark Iraq as a failure, our perfidious left demanded that all U.S. troops be pulled from Iraq, Bush blinked, and Obama made sure all U.S. troops were removed. Moreover, when Iraq held its free election in 2010, Obama acquiesced to what amounted to a coup by Maliki. Today, we have little influence over Iraq and its illegitimate government is moving ever closer to the Iranian sphere. Unique in today's Middle East, Iraq today is better off than it was ten years ago and it is, at least not a direct enemy of the U.S. That said, Iraq's trajectory looks poor indeed.
On September 10, 2001, Saudi Arabia was nominally a close ally of the U.S. They still are a close ally of our government types, even as they spend billions of dollars annually pushing their bloody, toxic brand of Wahhabi Islam throughout the world. And it is that - Wahhabi Islam and its influences - that caused 9-11, and that undergird the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah, among many others. Iran's own highly radicalized version of Shia Islam, the Ayatollah Khomeini's veleyat-e-faqi, is virtually a clone of Wahhabi Islam in terms of its triumphalism, expansionism and bloodiness.
So what has gone wrong over the past eleven years? Short answer - Bush's failure to identify our enemy as Wahhabi Islam, a mistake exponentially compounded by Obama's policies towards Wahhabi Islam and the Middle East.
Obama has pointed to the execution of bin Laden as well as his, Obama's, increased use of drone strikes as the ipso facto proof of his foreign policy bona fides. But especially as regards the Middle East and radical Islam, his policies have been an utter catastrophe: from the failure to fan the Green Revolution in Iran to fanning the flames of revolution in Egypt; from pressuring Israel to make unreasonable concessions to the Palestinians to excusing the radicalism and terrorism of the Palestinians; from failing to halt Iran's march towards a nuclear arsenal to allowing Pakistan to play a double game against the U.S. Obama has allowed a bad situation to become exponentially worse.
I have been saying for years now on this blog that our policy towards the Islamists - those who would happily slaughter us in a heart beat and impose Sharia law on the world - has no chance of working unless and until we finally identify the enemy. The enemy is not "terrorism." Terrorism is a tactic. The enemy is the toxic ideology of Wahhabi Islam and the Veleyat-e-Faqi of Iran.
Columnist Caroline Glick, several months ago, hit on much this same point, as well as pointing out how Obama has made the situation much worse. Her assessment is well worth a read:
How is it possible that the US finds itself today with so few good options in the Arab world after all the blood and treasure it has sacrificed? The answer to this question is found to a large degree in an article by Prof. Angelo Codevilla in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books titled "The Lost Decade."
Codevilla argues that the reason the US finds itself in the position it is in today owes to a significant degree to its refusal after September 11, 2001, to properly identify its enemy. US foreign policy elites of all stripes and sizes refused to consider clearly how the US should best defend its interests because they refused to identify who most endangered those interests.
The Left refused to acknowledge that the US was under attack from the forces of radical Islam enabled by Islamic supremacist regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran because the Left didn't want the US to fight. Moreover, because the Left believes that US policies are to blame for the Islamic world's hostility to America, leftists favor foreign policies predicated on US appeasement of its enemies.
For its part, the Right refused to acknowledge the identity and nature of the US's enemy because it feared the Left.
And so, rather than fight radical Islamists, under Bush the US went to war against a tactic - terrorism. And lo and behold, it was unable to defeat a tactic because a tactic isn't an enemy. It's just a tactic.
And as its war aim was unachievable, the declared ends of the war became spectacular. Rather than fight to defend the US, the US went to war to transform the Arab world from one imbued with unmentionable religious extremism to one increasingly ruled by democratically elected unmentionable religious extremism.
The lion's share of responsibility for this dismal state of affairs lies with former president Bush and his administration. While the Left didn't want to fight or defeat the forces of radical Islam after September 11, the majority of Americans did. And by catering to the Left and refusing to identify the enemy, Bush adopted war-fighting tactics that discredited the war effort and demoralized and divided the American public, thus paving the way for Obama to be elected while running on a radical anti-war platform of retreat and appeasement.
Since Obama came into office, he has followed the Left's ideological guidelines of ending the fight against and seeking to appease America's worst enemies. This is why he has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is why he turned a blind eye to the Islamists who dominated the opposition to Gaddafi. This is why he has sought to appease Iran and Syria. This is why he supports the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition. This is why he supports Turkey's Islamist government. And this is why he is hostile to Israel.
And this is why come December 31, the US will withdraw in defeat from Iraq, and pro- American forces in the region and the US itself will reap the whirlwind of Washington's irresponsibility.
There is a price to be paid for calling an enemy an enemy. But there is an even greater price to be paid for failing to do so.
We have already spent tremendous amounts of treasure and blood in response to the 9-11 attacks. But the failure to identify and fight the real enemy, not merely on the battlefield, but in the war of ideas, has been an existential error.
One of the lessons of WWII, according to Nazi generals, was that Hitler could have been stopped with minimal cost in blood and treasure in 1937 had France and England stood up to him. Waiting just two years turned the costs from nominal into the most costly and deadly conflict in our world's history.
We are now repeating that mistake in regards to radical Islam. Bush is at fault; Obama has allowed the situation to become exponentially worse. Given that 9-11 has given us much more warning of the "enemy's" bloodiness, violence and existential motivations than either the British or French had as regards the Nazi's in 1937, our failure to address this is unforgivable. And no, killing bin Laden does not change the fact that, on this most important of issues, Obama's foreign policy is ineffective at best, incompetent and dangerous at worst.
Glancing about the web, I see that Bookworm Room has a post on 9-11 that you would likely find of interest: September 11, 2001: In Memoriam.
Powerline has a good post on how aggressive CIA policies, now condemned by Obama, are what led to finding and executing Osama bin Laden.
Update: This from Muslim reformer Dr. Zhudi Jasser of AIFD today hits the nail on the head:
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is calling on President Obama and presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney to use the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to reengage the national discussion into the root causes of this horrible attack that claimed nearly 3,000 American lives.
With the understandable concerns over the U.S. economy driving the 2012 president race, both the Administration and the Romney campaign seem to be content to not engage on important issues in the global arena. But eleven years since the attacks on our country the U.S. still has done little to address the ideology of political Islam which is the root cause that led Al Qaeda and 19 hijackers to attack our country. In fact with the Islamist political victories in the Middle-East since the “Arab Spring” it is clear that the ideology of political Islam, and the radicalism that is borne within the ideology, are growing in a post 9-11 world. . . .