The World Has Never Been the Same Since 9/11

Terrorists hijacked four planes and slammed them into the Pentagon, the towers of the World Trade Center, and a Pennsylvania farm 20 years ago on a gloriously clear morning. Almost 3,000 unsuspecting Americans were slain, with tens of billions of dollars in destruction, the worst of which was in New York City.

Enhanced Security Saved Us From More Attacks

Several of the concerns that developed on that day were unfounded. There was no follow-up onslaught of comparable scale, let alone a wave of attacks. Travel and city centers, the nerve centers of our manner of living, etc., have been kept nearly fully secure, thanks to prudent procedures and intelligence work.

Terrorist assaults that followed — in Bali, London, Mumbai, Paris, and also in the United States — were lesser in scale, but lethal, and carried out by terror operatives or ad hoc amateurs motivated to help the cause.

In the United States, the concept of a world ruled by hardline Islam has not acquired large support. Most Muslims in the United States regard it as either awful or unbelievable or both.

Integration still works, despite the diversity and the evangelism of radical religious leaders. The scenario amongst Muslim groups in the region is worsening, as they become more isolated and are pushed to do so by left-wing parties that rely on their support.

Americas Response was Fast and Deadly

The short-term reaction of the United States on 9/11 was typical. We threw our all at the issue, with spectacular outcomes but a lot of waste and blunders. With the help of our NATO allies, we quickly deposed the jihadists’ Afghan hosts.

Our revised risk assessment, assuming terrorists obtain nuclear or chemical and biological weapons, led to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Hussein used the latter and was suspected by our intelligence services of seeking the former.

Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons proved to be a mirage. Instead of finding a simple way out, we became embroiled in a long war that has cost trillions of dollars and countless deaths in the United States.

It’s understandable that the judgment has been questioned frequently. However, after decapitating Iraq, we couldn’t just abandon it to chaos. The expenses, while significant, have masked the advantages of our actions.

The region’s board was cleared of a problematic piece. Established Sunni countries, still able to use Saddam as a cover, would have been hesitant to approach Israel.

For so many decades, opponents of the Iraq War (the majority of whom initially backed it) agreed that smart warfare worth waging was in Afghanistan. Three presidents in a row have expressed an interest in retreating there.

Our pullout, which was poorly planned and executed, returned Afghanistan to where it was before September 11, 2001. We aren’t where we were on September 10th. Every time we walk through an international airport check-in or early September rolls along, we now know that extremists from the Middle Ages have us on their minds.

On September 11, 2001, we began fighting back when travelers on Flight 93 realized what was going on and fought their kidnappers to the death. We must fight on, using violence when necessary but remaining patient at all times.