A Day That Lives In Infamy

| September 11, 2008

United Flight 175.jpg Approach this day with caution, those who have vivid memories. This morning I turned on the news and was confronted with a “replay” of the September 11th, 2001’s news cast.

I can clearly remember being up early that morning for a teleconference with clients on the east coast of the US, and deciding to pass the time by watching a bit of news. At that time the first plane had just the World Trade Center, and my first thought was “what a tragic accident – how did that happen?”.

Minutes later, most of the US that was watching TV saw United Flight 175 pass into view at its full speed and strike the second tower, erupting in a massive fireball that blasted out of the north side of the building.

Seven years have passed with no follow up attack, and America has largely moved on, myself included. It is easy to think that “this could not happen again”. Many times there has been a media fright over the use of a dirty bomb, a suitcase nuke, a weapon smuggled in from abroad in a shipping container. How many of these were a reflection of our fears, and how many were quietly aborted by the people that protect our safety?

In the years that followed the attack, there was a constant worry that Al-Qaeda was working hard to top the September 11 attacks. No such attacks materialized. Was it because of increased security? A massive intelligence effort to foil any plans? Skillfully applied violence from the US military? We may never get to know. In fact Al-Qaeda has been greatly reduced due to direct action by the US Military and associates. Their credibility as a world leader in the Jihad against the decadent west has been diminished, as they have not mounted an effective large scale operation since the bombings in Madrid.

There is a popular movement to despise the war in Iraq and label it in a wide spectrum of highly exaggerated terms. History is likely to show that Iraq provided the angry, radical muslim young men who were filled with bravado by the September 11th attacks a ready means to martyr themselves for the cause of Jihad. Why Iraq mattered was that much closer to the source of Jihad martyrs (and farther from the US) and the targets shifted from the US civil population to the US Military. Thousands of uniformed Americans have lost their lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens. But the net effect was to show first hand to the middle east the futility of the Jihad / suicide approach, and to send legions of young men bent on jihad on the fast path to hell. Once these young men had killed themselves for the cause, they were no longer available to do harm to anyone else.

It is my opinion that 50 years from now, the war in Iraq may well be considered a stroke of genius, as hard as it may be to consider today.

The lesson of September 11th is that we ignore the forces that threaten us at our own peril. In the years that have passed since then, huge efforts by the intelligence community have greatly enhanced our nation’s ability to find and track people planning harm on a large and small scale, against a backdrop of increasing anger from an American public who worries what happened to the liberty and freedom they used to enjoy.

As the memories of that day fade, we must make the effort to remember the terrible cost of complacency taught to us on a clear September morning. We must never forget.


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Category: Commentary, History, Main

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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