« Krauthammer on Beauchamp |
Blog Home Page
| Charges dropped against 2 more Marines in Haditha case »
August 10, 2007
Just What We Need: Another 9/11
There are some people in America who believe that we need another 9/11 to unify us and drive away the rancorous partisan demons that bedevil our politics. Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky is only the latest to broach the idea:
ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America. What kind of a sick bastard would write such a thing? A bastard so sick of how splintered we are politically - thanks mainly to our ineptitude in Iraq - that we have forgotten who the enemy is. Sick? Perhaps misguided is a better term. Most terrorism experts say it is not a question of if but of when we will get hit with another attack by al-Qaeda or one of their many offshoots. The question is what good would it do? Chances are we will unite as we did in the aftermath of 9/11 but then, as Ed Morrissey points out, the feelings of togetherness will fade and we will be at each other's throats again:
It is not Bush and it is not Hillary and it is not Daily Kos or Bill O'Reilly or Giuliani or Barack. It is global terrorists who use Islam to justify their hideous sins, including blowing up women and children. Iraq has fractured the U.S. into jigsaw pieces of competing interests that encourage our enemies. We are deeply divided and division is weakness.
The problem that Bykofsky just misses in this piece -- and not by much -- is the nature of a terrorist conflict. Americans simply haven't shown the fortitude needed to fight one to the end, at least not since our attention spans shrunk from overexposure to cathode-ray tubes. Ed seems rather cynical about the state of our courage in the face of a global terrorist threat and to a certain extent, I would have to agree with him. But another part of that equation is leadership; and love him or hate him, George Bush has not done the hard, slogging work of bringing the American people along with him in his fight against global terror.
We fought the Barbary Pirates for decades just after the nation's birth, and we fought the Native Americans for decades before and after the Civil War (with little honor). Another attack on America would simply repeat the dynamic of 9/11, which would be that we commit to a fight for a couple of years, until everyone started complaining about costs and casualties to the point that Congress started demanding withdrawal.
For that to happen, Bush would have to constantly reiterate his themes and vision about the War on Terror - not just every once and a while. He has done the same thing on Iraq, allowing his political foes to define the terms of the debate while not challenging their skewed narrative of why we went to Iraq in the first place.
I don't agree with Bykovsky and I'm not sure I agree with Morrissey either. There is no substitute for leadership. And in some ways, the President has failed that test.