Looking back on 9/11

When I awoke that Tuesday morning, I turned on my radio and suddenly realized that the world would never again be the same.  I went to my weekly office meeting, where one of my colleagues asked if I had any idea as to how long this turmoil would last.  I told her that it would likely be quite a while, if ever, before things settled down.

While driving home, I wondered if we were worthy to prevail through the ensuing struggle.  At the time of Pearl Harbor, America was much more cohesive, and thus unified for the global conflict.  Also, it was obvious then that we were attacked by none other than the Imperial Japanese, rather than some amorphous cult of religious fanatics.

The term "weak state" came into use during the previous (ahem) "adventure" in Somalia.  Added to this mix then came the term "asymmetrical warfare."  A conflict between a modern, first-world military and dispersed third-world terrorists can only be considered asymmetrical.

I had my doubts about the durability of the political unity that came with the immediate aftermath.  And, sure enough, it evaporated once military activities were initiated.  I also had doubts about our ability to actually know how well we were doing while fighting asymmetrically.  The one consolation happened when I looked at a map and saw Iraq and Afghanistan...making a "Persian sandwich" out of Iran.  Aha!  A big-picture strategic objective.  Not really, however.  

And then came the conspiracy theories.  Somehow, the collapse of the Twin Towers was an inside job.  I was given a DVD intended to promote such dissent, with Rosie O'Donnell screaming (and perhaps soiling herself), "Steel doesn't burn!  Steel doesn't burn!"  The video showed someone putting a tea kettle on a stove burner.  What wasn't said was that the trivet on the stove was made of iron — not steel — just like the hardware that goes inside a fireplace.  Iron may be more brittle than steel, but it has a much greater heat tolerance.  Steel does burn.  Just ask anyone who's used a cutting torch.

In The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman describes a plausible analogue to today's Islamic terrorism that occurred over a century ago.  The international anarchist movement focused on The Act.  U.S. president William McKinley was assassinated, along with King Humbert of Italy and a bunch of French parliamentarians...all as part of a wave of anarchist acts.  Steps were taken to pre-empt further murders, but anarchists being anarchists, the movement fell apart.  Religious fanatics, however, have a deeper commitment to their cause.

Mark Steyn wrote in After America that Muslim communities in various parts of Europe used to be well integrated into the surrounding environment.  Children, wearing ordinary clothes, played in public.  Then the ayatollahs took over Iran, and the religious police started showing up everywhere, and the women started covering up.

Christendom was seriously conflicted during the wars of the Reformation.  But eventually, there was a Renaissance followed by an Enlightenment.  Perhaps Islam would benefit by such a catharsis, at least with regard to its relations with the outside world.

Image: Nancyswikiaccount via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped).

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com