Ten years ago tonight, a bunch of fanatical extremist criminals hijacked planes and crashed them into American landmarks. They wanted to start a war between Islam and the West. They wanted to be elevated from petty psychotic criminals to super villains, the main enemies of the world’s last remaining superpower. They wanted that superpower to spend the next decade thrashing about after them, smashing up Islamic countries so that ordinary people in those countries who would never have had a bar of Al Qaeda would lose family members in the carnage and build up their own legitimate grievances against it. They wanted the surge in recruitment that would come from being taken more seriously than they deserved.
Like that was going to happen.
They wanted the West to abandon the civil liberties its citizens enjoyed and become more like the tyrannical regimes they wished they had the support to establish. They wanted their petty grievances, their pathetic “war” on the West to be taken so seriously by the West that the West would concentrate on little else. They wanted the West to get bogged down in unwinnable wars that would be a massive drain on its economies and tip many of them over the edge into collapse.
Fortunately, they didn’t get their wish.
We recognised that they were petty murderous criminals, not super villains (how absurd would it be for them to gain respect simply by killing more people?), distinguished them early from their potential allies in the Islamic world and worked with those people to root out and prosecute these unhinged criminals. We remembered that our long-standing Justice systems had successfully dealt with serious criminals before, and they were now rotting away in jails, stripped of their power, unable to influence or impress anybody. We found the criminals, we charged them with the crimes they’d committed, and – demonstrating once again how different we were to them – gave them fair trials. Of course, since they were criminals who had committed serious crimes, the evidence was strong, and they were convicted and sentenced to extensive periods of imprisonment. They’re still there, pathetic specimens, wishing they could have had the war they dreamed of, wishing for “martyrdom” and a glorious death. But we don’t give murderous criminals what they want.
The people of Iraq and Afghanistan participated in the “Arab Spring” and, like Egypt and Libya, overthrew their dictators. NATO assisted with air support, but the revolutions were run and achieved by the people of those countries, not forces imposed from outside. The Taliban and Saddam Hussein are on the run like Gaddafi, but with their entire countries united against them, nobody expects them to escape capture for long.
Yes, it’s been a decade in which the West stood strong. Its economies were not crippled by a decade of war. Its principles of justice and the rule of law remained strong and were an example to the rest of the world. The terrorists lost their chance to cause destruction and chaos well beyond their actual powers, and are now sitting miserably in jail like any other violent criminals. We were not distracted from the real challenges facing us – economic reform, the increasing power of China, climate change.
A bunch of psychotic radicals in a cave did not defeat us. How could they? We would have had to be led by total morons to have given them anything they’d wanted.
UPDATE: As Matthew puts it in a comment at Pure Poison:
Yesterday (or so), the bolinator was asking (roughly) “is the best they can do?”, referring to the maybe-truck-bomb that probably isn’t bearing down on new york and/or washington. Andrew – that’s all they could EVER do. Their one innovation was to take advantage of airline security that let people take knives onto planes and stage a really big truck bomb. It wasn’t a brilliant or unimaginable innovation – not only was it in the (now famous) “debt of honour” by tom clancy (not his best by a long way – I recently had to struggle to even remember what it was about, whereas cardinal of the kremlin’s a real ripper). It has (apparently) been used in a couple of movies, and was apparently even used on a TV show … broadcast in the US in 2001. It just wasn’t that !$@#ing clever.
Since then, in the US, it’s been amateur night. You have to be pretty desperate to consider that times square thing as anything more than slapstick. The fort hood shooting was just another in an endless line of shootings in the US. A total moron tried to run people over with an SUV, and ballsed it up. THAT’S the enemy. Try comparing these bozos to the IRA, and they’re really very ordinary.
No, Matt! They’re THE GREATEST THREAT THE WEST HAS EVER FACED!
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We must never forget 9/11!
On that sorry date, state sponsored terrorism accounted for the death of over three thousand innocents.
All because they were seen as the ideological satan.
For some perverted reason, innocent people many thousands of kilometres removed from the fanatics needed to die in order to safeguard a corrupt ideology against a non-existant threat.
Not happy with the senseless bloodshed, the terrorists propped up the mechanism whereby nearly thirty thousand others were tortured for their apostasy from the perverted ideology.
The scars of this terrorism have settled upon a generation of what I know to be the kindest and most gentle people to walk this earth.
A couple of buildings knocked over and a few thousand dead is small Karma for the US to pay for their sins against the people of Chile.
Not to mention the rest of the world.
If you live by the sword….
I agree. These criminals were isolated individuals. We were so very wrong to go after their command and control. We should have left them to flourish under the Taliban. Then everyone would have ignored them and they would never have plotted another attack. The world would now be living in peace and harmony.
And we should never, never enquire into the ideology which motivated them. This would be a big mistake because, you see, these are just common garden-variety criminals. They have no coherent ideology and are certainly not terrorists. You must never, not ever, use this word to describe them. The ABC has rules about this sort of thing.
Possibly the biggest mistake would be to engage in a battle of ideas with them or to argue for the superiority of western democracy over sharia law as a system of government. There is nothing good about western democracy at all. In fact it is a wonderful thing for the Taliban to throw acid in the face of uppity girls who seek to educate themselves. Those too were random criminal acts with no underlying ideology or religious doctrines behind them.
What kind of god-forsaken fool would suggest that we oppose ideas antithetical to human rights, freedom and dignity. Everyone knows that you can only make that argument against the Christian right. Poor little brown people get a free pass.
Nothing to see here, just random acts of violence. Move on please. If you must whine about something there is always Pinochet. He was the very worst dictator of the 20th century. Bleating about him and ignoring all the the leftist mass-murderers will bring you status and high regard in the eyes of true intellectuals. But whatever you do don’t mention Castro, who is still emiserating Cuba and who killed many more people than Pinochet. He was a leftist you know and therefore a basically good person driven to do what he did by the evil Americans, the source of all evil in the world.
I do enjoy these battles of sarcasm [fetches popcorn]
Possibly the biggest mistake would be to engage in a battle of ideas with them or to argue for the superiority of western democracy over sharia law as a system of government.
There’s no money to be made from a war of ideas SB – far better to engage in an actual war where the US military industry can profit beyond belief. A war of ideas would see education of our disparate populations, open debate with our enemy and engagement on intellectual instead of just physical terms.
If only Bush/Blair and Howard had listened to you SB and actually engaged in a war of ideas/ideals. Instead they pursued a far more literal war that has bankrupted the US and given the Muslim world hundreds of thousands more reasons to hate us.
What Mondo said and that a war of ideals on, say, ideas antithetical to human rights, freedom and dignity probably wouldn’t have sanctioned, say, gitmo et al… 😉
Being a creature of balance Mondo, I see a role for both a battle of ideas and an armed war. Throughout history the forces of barabarism have lain in wait for civilisations to grow flabby and complacent, to lose the will to defend themselves and the values which made them great.
Too many in the west seem intent on controlling the matter linguistically by denying people the language to even discuss the issues. There also military battles to be fought.
Narcotic, I know that certain people have the urge to hammer the US first and grudgingly admit some fault in mass-murderers, but I do not share that perspective.
Being a creature of balance Mondo, I see a role for both a battle of ideas and an armed war.
Because the battle for hearts and minds is obviously facilitated by a simultaneous bombing and invasion campaign.
Because sometimes you need the ability to crush your opponents.
. . . while winning the battle for ideas.
Sometimes people need a little prompting in the battle for ideas – like Japan and Germany in WWII.
The battle for hearts and minds is irrelevant without the ability and willingness to defend your society. We need a bit more martial vigour around the place these days.
I agree that war and/or use of force is often a necessary part of any freedom loving society. It is naive to suggest otherwise.
I was meaning that if you go to physical war while wanting to also win the moral war, you can’t have the massive abuses of human rights perpetrated by the allied forces. If you want the moral high ground, you can’t have places like gitmo; you can’t torture; you can’t demean.
You can’t abuse human rights and claim to be fighting for them.
On that note, you can’t claim to be fighting for freedom if you are diminishing the freedom of your civilians under the guise of protecting them. Some of the laws enacted since Sept 11 are justified, many are not.
Narcotic: “You can’t abuse human rights and claim to be fighting for them.”
This is a real blast from the past, the re-emergence of the old “fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity” argument. Of course it is flawed. Human rights violations are a disadvantage in war, not least because it gives internal enemies a chance to carp and reduce morale. But I can’t think of any wars without them.
Mondo, sometimes a military war can lead to a change of heart and mind. Take the Japanese: after they had suffered enough in WWII they decided that militaristic expansion was not a good idea. Battle of ideas won! Ditto the Germans.
Being a creature of balance Mondo, I see a role for both a battle of ideas and an armed war.
Sorry, I’ve read over this sentence several times and it doesn’t make sense.
WHO is this “creature of balance”?
Can’t be SB, so not sure who he’s talking about …
We need a bit more martial vigour around the place these days.
Can’t hide your authoritarian streak, can you? Not enough women and children being slaughtered for your liking these days, huh?
Buns: “Not enough women and children being slaughtered for your liking these days”
I leave that to radical leftists like Che or to fanatics like the Taliban.
By ‘martial vigour’ I had in mind instilling in society an appreciation that hard won freedoms need to be defended, that life isn’t merely about perfection of the middle class lifestyle, that there is in fact a difference between good and evil and that for western democracy to survive we need good citizens able and willing to defend it.
The fact is that we need some of both Athens and Sparta in our society.
I had in mind instilling in society an appreciation that hard won freedoms need to be defended
So you would support the repealing of the terrorism legislation then?
Absolutely, Narcotic. I don’t support sedition laws.