Monday, September 11, 2006

In the Great War Against Wahhabi Extremism, we are 12 years into the struggle. In 1993, I was home from school the day that truck bomb exploded in the garage under one of the towers. Are we any closer to winning? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. The brother told me the other day that he had come to the conclusion that the definition of winning the war was that every last one of the terrorists had to be hunted down and killed. If there is one thing 9/11 accomplished, it is that we now know our enemy. He is faceless and ephemeral, but he is there and we are on guard.

The problem with the Pearl Harbor analogy is that Pearl Harbor was followed by a lot of other things. The Philippines were conquered, Singapore fell, a lot of US territory in the Pacific became de facto Japanese property. Five years ago, 9/11 happened and then we were invading Afghanistan in search of Osama ibn Laden.

We took the hit in 1993. It was a small hit. It was handed over largely to law enforcement and then largely forgotten. Other attacks occurred, but they were either small or far away in places like East Africa. Then 9/11, a much larger and more visually stunning hit than a truck bomb in a garage, but again, it was but one day. In the aftermath, law enforcement took a backseat to military intervention. But with its justification fading into the background over time, military intervention has lost its luster in a protracted struggle.

Is withdrawal the answer? (And no, this is not a discussion of Iraq.) Would our efforts overseas be more effective solely under the aegis of international law enforcement? The problem with the law enforcement solution is that where the military operates today is pretty much beyond the reach of law enforcement. The long arm of the FBI doesn't extend much farther than civilization and the mountains of Afghanistan for instance are beyond civilization, certainly our own.

This is the end of part one. I may or may not revisit this. Comment as you wish.

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