Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Did The Terrorists Win On 9/11?

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 behind us, it’s time to ask a question that few have been willing to debate openly: did the terrorists win on 9/11? That’s a really difficult question to answer. Let’s see what we can come up with?

If we take this question literally, then the obvious answer is NO. The goal of the terrorists was to intimidate America to the point that Americans would no longer resist Islam. Thus, Islam could conquer country after country until it dominated the world. That didn’t happen and won’t. The American spirit is too strong for terror to succeed, and any attempt to impose Islam in the United States will simply result in a whole bunch of dead and desecrated Muslims.

Unfortunately, there’s more to consider.

Despite ten years of being hunted by the most powerful military in the world, al Qaeda continues to exist. They have killed 6,500 American and Western troops, exhausted Western Europe’s military capability, and continue to pull off daily terrorist operations around the world. The Taliban control large parts of Pakistan and are prepared to return to Afghanistan the minute we leave. Fundamentalist Islamic groups will soon control Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and probably Iraq, and are working on Syria and others. They control Sudan and Somalia, where they have turned pirating into a $538 million a year operation despite the collective efforts of the world’s navies. That’s a lot of success.

So did they win? No. Are they winning? Sort of.

Then there's the flip side to this question: did we lose? Again, literally, the answer is NO. America is still here and no one honestly thinks that's going to change. Indeed, if anything Islam is further from its goal today than ever because now we know what they're up to.

But again, there is more to consider. Our government has spent $1.2 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and that doesn’t count things like TSA or lost productivity. That’s 8.5% of our national debt. By comparison, World War II cost only $2 trillion (in 1990 dollars). So we’ve spent a fortune.

At the same time, we’ve given up a lot of our freedoms so that our politicians can look like they are doing something. Note that I do not say “so we can be safe.” It’s fairly clear that airport fondlings have done nothing to keep us safer. Port security is a joke. The border is porous. Internal security is nonexistent. Essentially, we’ve been lucky that these terrorists just aren’t very bright or motivated.

Moreover, our security operations have become bureaucratic wastelands. We spent a fortune creating the Department of Homeland Security (annual budget $50 billion, funnels another $35 billion in grants), but it has achieved nothing. DHS has made no arrests that I’ve seen despite being given new powers like having the power to do warrantless wiretaps -- every arrest we’ve seen has been made by local cops, vigilant citizens or FBI stings. So what does DHS do with its time? It seizes the web domains of people who are illegally broadcasting NFL games. . . which has what to do with national security? DHS head Janet Napolitano also spends her time lying about the border being secure.

Congress has been shameful in all of this too. They’ve used the supposed security crisis to ram through all kinds of pork boondoggles and special interest legislation. They pander to us like we’re idiots, selling us fences, airport pat-downs, and anti-terror laws that are so broad anyone could be charged for anything. And they’ve put our soldiers -- our fellow Americans -- at risk because they didn’t know how else to look tough.

These are not good things. The terrorists didn’t hurt America or the American people, but our own politicians sure are giving it their best shot!

So what do we do?

First, we set new goals. Rather than fighting a “war” against something as nebulous and never-ending as “terror,” we need realistic goals such as neutralizing certain terrorist groups or replacing certain regimes. Then we come up with rational plans to achieve those goals.

Secondly, we reform our government. Strip away any function from DHS that is not actually related to security. Purge its laws of special interest goodies. Stop letting Congress force programs on the military. Consolidate all of the intelligence agencies.

And frankly, we need to do this for all agencies. Our government controls too much of our lives. It should not be micromanaging the country. We need to eliminate bailouts, czars, corporate handouts, and special interest tax carve outs. It needs to surrender its ownership of banks and car companies. It needs to stop picking economic winners and losers, and propping up things consumers don’t want. It needs to stop keeping us dependent on foreign energy and foreign labor. It needs to get out of education and out of our medical system.

Finally, we need to stop letting politicians use crises to grab power. 9/11 is not a valid reason to throw out the Constitution anymore than the financial crisis was a reason to throw out the Constitution. And we should never trade our freedoms for placebos.



Anonymous said...

Andrew, now you are talking like a Tea Partier! Of course this is what we should be doing.....many millions of Americans agree with these approaches you've outlined. I really hope and pray that Obama and the radical left has "awakened a sleeping giant."

Tam said...

So, "liberating" the people in the middle east can't be counted as success against the war on terror? And getting molested at airports doesn't protect us? This is so confusing.

Fortunately, the American spirit will not be extinguished and if there is a silver lining to the black cloud (yes, I said it) that is the obama administration, it is that the sleeping giant has awakened. With people like Peter King and Allen West I think there is hope that some of these approaches will be put into place.

BevfromNYC said...

Call me the dyspeptic contrarian in the group, but in some respects we HAVE lost. Mostly we've lost our focus as a united people with philosophical differences to being so polarized and intolerant. In the days following 9/11 it was amazing how so many different people went out of their way to be kind to strangers. As inevitably happens, that kindness dissipated. But instead of going back "to normal", we have gone so far in the other direction, I am not sure it can ever be righted again without major bloodshed. And in that the terrorists HAVE won. They may be causing our own "Spring".

BTW, I'm thinking of changing my name to "Dyspeptic Contrarian"...

AndrewPrice said...

Thanka Anon! I take that as a huge compliment! :-)

I also hope this has woken the sleeping giant and that the American people take back their country from their government!

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Sadly, no. Freeing the people of the Middle East from one set of tyrants and giving them to another really isn't freedom.

What's sad is that we probably could have controlled events over there if we had been more involved -- and I mean for a long time now. We've really turned a blind eye to what was going on when we should have been forcing them to raise their people up to a stable, democratic, middle class people.

I think you're right about the silver lining -- the American people seem to have woken up. I just hope the public follows through and that our political class "gets" that this is what the public is demanding. Business as usual needs to end.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That sounds like a superhero name! You should start a comic book and then sell the movie rights! :-)

You make a very interesting point. We really did manage a wild mood swing there from almost 100% unified to a tremendous amount of hate. I'm not sure I've seen the public more divided and more angry about everything -- not just politics. One look at most websites tells you all you need to know about the anger level. You should check out the comments even at sports blogs -- you just get the most incredibly hateful comments thrown at players, team, fans and other commenters.

I think part of this is the internet, which has let people speak their minds without filtering their thoughts through common decency -- something that doesn't happen when people can put a face to the words.

But for the rest, I frankly blame the left. They went so far over the top in their Bush derrangement syndrome (which started very quickly after 9/11) and they made open, public hate acceptable. Then their leaders (like Pelosi) adopted the same attitude rather than calling these people out.

Not to mention, they were dishonest about what upset them as evidenced by the fact that things which they called "war crimes" under Bush have been just peachy under Obama.

Also, let me point out that the Tea Party (the right wing/middle America combo) that rose up in response to Obama has been peaceful and remained respectful. All of their supposed "hate" has been manufactured by the left as a smear tactic.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: The losing proposition is that you can't win a war when you're unable to define a clear enemy. If you can't define the enemy, it's equally hard to define the allies. You also can't win a war if you've planned the end game before you've finished fighting the war. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administration had a clear goal, and "terror" is not an enemy. Making the world safe for democracy is a Wilsonian concept that never worked and never will, unless we are determined to define the enemy then fight to complete victory without worrying about hurting the feelings of the people who have supported and given safe harbor to those who would destroy Western civilization. Iraq is already playing footsy with Iran, and Afghanistan remains a primitive nation ripe for Taliban takeover the moment we leave.

As you have stated very well, we have to find ways of protecting America without fighting wars we're not determined to win against enemies we have not clearly defined.

I also agree on DHS. Instead of creating one agency that would coordinate the competing domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, it has simply become a third competing agency, sucking up more money while feathering its own nest. DHS has devolved quickly into spending more time rousting American citizens than gathering intelligence and fighting foreign threats.

I will say, however, that a nation under threat must know the difference between civil rights and civil liberties. Civil rights are creatures of the Constitution. Civil liberties are creatures of the law. The former must be protected at all necessary costs. The latter may be modified to meet the threat level. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations seem to have the ability to make those distinctions and as a result, fundamental rights have been in constant danger because of amateurish attempts to protect the public safety. I'll give up my liberty to make and receive calls with my terrorist friends in Kandahar without government monitoring, but I won't give up my right to speak freely or live my life unimpeded by nosy federal agents.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Well said and I agree on all points.

How can you win a "war" when you can't even decide who you are fighting or what your ultimate goals are? Afghanistan if a clear example of that. We wanted to get al Qaeda and ended up supporting one side in pointless civil war between tribes. Now we have no idea how to get ourselves out.

At the same time, we've refused to do the things that need to be done to prevent fundamentalist Islam from sweeping through these other countries. We should have been defusing that all along.

And you're right about civil liberties v. fundamental rights. I have no problems with intelligent security measures that infringe upon on liberties to the least amount possible. But we're getting wholesale eradication of rights in exchange for placebos these days. And I think the reason is our politicians simple don't want to be seen as "soft" and they don't know what else to do. It's public relations gone wild.

DHS sounded like a great idea initially, but it has quickly become just another bloated agency that spends its time doing what is easiest -- harassing the law abiding.

Ed said...

Andrew, Excellent article. I am hearing more people discuss this lately and I think it needs to be made clear that this is not defeatism, this is concern that our government is setting the wrong policy.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Good point, this is not defeatism. This is about the failure of our current strategy. We need to set our government on a better path.

Ed said...

Andrew, I agree. I am glad to see that the new Tea Party Congress members seem to be willing to ask these questions and want these kinds of changes. Now we need a president who won't stand in the way.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, And a Senate that isn't obstructionist.

Let's hope last night's victory in New York shakes them up. If a Democrat can lose in a 3-1 D to R district in New York, then the rest should be running scared all over the place!

BevfromNYC said...

What is even more interesting is that NY-9 is a predominantly Jewish district and Weprin is an orthodox Jew. The Jewish vote went decidedly against Obama at least in this district probably thanks to Ed Koch. Btw - Turner is a devout Catholic.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I heard that part of the problem with Weprin was that he (1) voted for gay marriage and (2) supports the ground zero mosque.

But I still think Obama has a larger problem with Jews (as evidenced by Koch) because of his anti-Israel policies. He's truly sided with the Palestinians.

I wonder if Turner will be able to hold the seat in 2012 or if this was just a one-time message to Obama?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I love your comment this morning (in your last article) about us being "one step closer to an Obama-free world"! LOL!

Koshcat said...

Not yet, but they are getting close.

Whether by design or not, they have done to us what Reagan did to the USSR. We already had budgetary concerns but the "war on terror" has accelerated them. If we don't do something about it, the whole economic system will collapse. They have also used our civil rights against us and the left has fallen for their crap. Out of the same mouths we hear how evil the Christen right is and how their power needs to be reigned in and then hear how Islam needs to be protected. BS. The constitution only states that there is not to be a state religion but (and I am not a lawyer here) religious rights do not supersede other civil rights or the law, i.e. Sharia law is NOT compatible with the US Constitution.

How to "win"?
1. Get our financial house in order.
2. Get most of our military, even in ally nations, home and stop the perpetual wars.
3. Give the Navy more latitude, that is they can hang or shoot pirates at sea.
4. More free trade with reasonable countries. Even China where I don't like there system has a rule of law. But no trade with those who openly hate us.
5. Get out of the UN. Not saying be isolationist but develop strong relationships outside the UN system. The UN was to prevent wars and atrocities. It has a very poor record and should be put down.
6. Stop harrassing everyone in the world. Whether it be Swiss Banks or Egypt. It doesn't help our image but just makes us look like bullies.
7. Probably restating, but stop getting into other country's civil wars. Yes, people are going to die. Our being there will just complicate not alleviate.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, what I am hoping will happen is that Turner can turn this into a Senate run against Schumer. If Turner can defeat a Dem in Schumer's own district, maybe that same distain can be turned against Schumer in 2016 or Gillibrand in 2012 even. Gillibrand is up for renewal in 2012 and since she votes with Schumer 100% of the time, that may be another message worth sending.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, Excellent comment.

I agree that we are doing to ourselves what the terrorists could not do to us. And we need to fix out financial house before we do cause a catastrophe -- we've already come close a couple times now.

I think we need to pull back large parts of our military. There are places I believe it is necessary for us to remain (like Japan to offset Chinese influence), but we should not be in 97 countries or whatever the number is.

I agree about the pirates. The only way to stop someone like a pirate is to make them want to stop -- fear of death rather than just being releases or sent to a nice prison in the US would do that.

Stop harassing the world is an interesting point that I hadn't thought about, but it's an excellent point. We are losing the PR war world wide. Part of that is the heavy-handed way we react to our friends (like the Swiss), while we give our worst friends and our enemies a total pass. Moreover, too often, we are seen to be propping up dictators whereas we should either stay out of it or actively be pushing reforms.

At the same time, we've done stupid things like take the US flags off the aid packages we send "because we don't want to offend people." Give me a break. Part of what the world loved about us for so long was that whenever they interacted with Americans it was because our people were bringing aid packages with the label: "A gift from the American people." When did we decide it was wrong to let people know that we're doing good things for them?

On the religious point, you're absolutely right. There is nothing in the Constitution that says that (1) we need to eradicate all public expressions of Christianity or (2) we can accept Sharia law. The Constitution forbids our government from "establishing" a religion, which means using religious law as secular law. Hence Sharia law is forbidden.

On the UN, there is no doubt it has failed. To me, the bigger problem is that the UN uses this "treaty by leftist peer pressure" plan, which they use to attack our economy -- things like the Law of the Sea Treaty. That's got to stop.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That would be great. If NY can send a Republican to the Senate, then we could actually get to 60 seats. That would be fantastic!

I understand Turner won by 8%, so he sounds like he knows what he's doing as a candidate.

CrispyRice said...

Interesting analysis, Andrew. All I know is that every time I try to fly anywhere, I feel like the criminal. And I'm beginning to feel more and more like I have no rights left in general when people's cars are getting searched for no probable cause other than they happen to be driving through a tunnel in NYC. It makes me very angry.

CrispyRice said...

Oh, hey, I meant to ask - are you covering the jobs bill? I'm curious about the lack of anything happening with it, LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think it make a lot of people very angry, especially because it's all just for show and because there's no end in sight. If anything, every time we turn around, they are talking about new pointless restrictions -- and taxes to pay for those restrictions. It's ridiculous.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I'm working on an article about the jobs bill for tomorrow afternoon. So hang tight... it's coming! :-)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I suspect it would also help if we just admitted that we're fighting against radical Islam. Some of the Basques are terrorists, too, but that doesn't really concern us, does it?

CrispyRice said...

Excellent! I'll look for that.

I visit a frequent fliers bulletin board, and for being a non-political and quasi-international site, it's interesting to see how many of them are upset at the intrusion and loss of rights. Especially because so much is "safety theater" and doesn't really do anything valid. AND how aware they are of how many people just shrug their shoulders and don't seem to care.

"Sure, you can demand a body cavity search before I get on the subway. As long as it makes us all safer!"


AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think that would help a lot because it would help us identify the enemy, which would help us define the proper strategy. It makes a huge difference if the enemy is radical Islam v. just Islam v. terrorism generally. Different strategies are needed to fight each.

But right now, we're using the "terrorism sort of from the Middle East sometimes from Asia or could be any one of us" definition which makes it impossible to really come up with an effective strategy.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, "security theater" -- excellent description! That's exactly what so much of this is.

And yeah, sadly some people will happily accept anything so long as they are told it will make them safer.

DUQ said...

Andrew, Interesting points as always. I think the only way to fight terrorist is to have a strong, happy country. That requires fixing all the economic damage we've done.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ, That's probably true. Nothing would frustrate them more than us becoming stronger and happier.

Patti said...

The week after 9/11 I was in a Starbucks and barista #1 was recounting a story about how he was in the grocery store the night before to pick up some cheese, but he had literally over 50 kinds to pick from and he was overwhelmed with his choices. barista #2 pipped up: and THAT'S why the terrorists hate us.

best lol of that horrible week and before i left i told those two young men that there was more truth in that statement than they knew.

as long as we have 50 kinds of cheeses, we #WIN!

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, That's true. We win by not letting them change our way of life. And the reason they hate us is pure jealousy. They hate the fact we are happy and get to go about our lives without having to put up with all the garbage they want to foist on us!

DUQ said...

Andrew and Patti, We should dot the Middle East with Starbucks! They would freak out.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, They would be furious! McDonalds too.

Ed said...

Andrew, I saw an article today where Gen. Petreas says that al Qaeda is "vulnerable." Vulnerable? After 10 years I would certainly hope so.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, You would think so. Unfortunately, this is the same thing they've been saying for years now. At what point do you say, "you've been saying this for ten years. . . what's really going on?"

Ed said...

Andrew, I think the time it's always valid to ask those questions and right now is definitely a good time because the new Tea Party frosh have a chance to change the culture, but we have to stand behind them to make that happen.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's probably true.

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