Summary: On 9-11 al Qaeda changed America in ways we refuse to see. We’ve helped set the Middle East aflame and given up important rights, both processes still continuing. On this anniversary of that sad day let’s try for a clearer understanding of what happened and what we did afterwards. The price will be high for our failure to do so. But it’s not too late to start.
“The purpose of an action is the reaction.”
— Said by RJH in a comment.
On this day fourteen years ago, with a single strike al Qaeda changed the course of America and perhaps the world. We are the world’s hegemonic state, by many measures the most powerful nation (relative to its time) that the world has ever seen. Al Qaeda did this at a negligible cost in money and manpower. Never have so few changed the lives of so many with so little effort.
9-11 was not the usual kind of decisive battle, where thousands fight to determine the fate of nations. This is a dozen guys with box cutters deliberately setting out to change the course of a nation – and succeeding. The multiple of force to effect is astonishing, beyond anything I have seen in history.
The 9-11 terrorists were “super-empowered individuals” not because of what they did — planes often crash, buildings often burn, then life goes on — but because of what we did afterwards. The leverage on history came not from their actions but from our reaction.
Since 9-11 the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of America and its allies have damaged (probably crippled) al Qaeda, but its leaders see al Qaeda as the vanguard of the jihadist movement, not its body — and so perhaps expendable. They might consider its destruction a small price to pay for what it accomplished: starting the long war with America that has drained its resources, corrupted its soul, and turned many of the Islamic community against the West.