Ten years after 9/11

Paul Danish


Random thoughts on the 10th anniversary of 9/11:

Since 9/11, we have liquidated the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Ba’athist regime in Iraq; shot bin Laden and thousands of his excitable boys; dragged Saddam out of a hole and enabled his hanging; stood up a working, if not exactly flourishing, democracy in Iraq; foiled dozens of terror plots and prevented another terror attack of 9/11 proportions from taking place in the American homeland; and, by example, advice, and discrete assistance, helped enable the revolutions of the Arab spring. And, compared to what we could be doing, we haven’t begun to fight. Still, not a bad start.

And make no mistake — it’s only a start. The war on terror is not like the Vietnam war. We can’t just declare victory and go home. If we do, the jihadists will follow. They think they’re on a mission from god. The only way for us to end the war is to win it.

How can we tell when we’ve won the war? You’ll know we’ve won the war on terror when the Islamic world is 1) reasonably democratic, 2) reasonably secular, 3) only modestly corrupt, 4) more or less committed to the rule of law, and 5) fights jihadists more fiercely than we do. Alternatively, you’ll know that we’ve won the war on terror when the Islamic world stops treating its women like shit.

The aspect of the war on terror we have most neglected has been energy. From the beginning we should have taken aggressive action to break the global price of oil, which would defund the global jihad by defunding the governments that sustain it.

Breaking the global price of oil is different from ending U.S. dependence on imported oil, but ending U.S. oil imports it would break it. If the U.S. ended oil imports, it would create a 3 billion-barrel-a-year crude glut in world oil markets and drive down the price of petroleum for a generation. The way to do this is by increasing domestic oil production and by developing substitute fuels like natural gas, ethanol, bio-diesel and gasoline made from coal and natural gas. Gains from conservation are real enough, but will largely be cancelled out by population growth.

Why is it that the people who are most likely to object to any action that would increase domestic energy supplies are also the ones who are most likely to have a “no blood for oil” bumper stickers on their SUVs?

Although they won’t say it (Ward Churchill was an exception) a lot of American leftists’ view of 9/11 is that the U.S. had it coming because of its support for repressive regimes throughout the Middle East. But if the United States is responsible for bringing these regimes into existence and sustaining them, as the left routinely claims, doesn’t it have a moral responsibility to rid the world of them? And if that is the case, why does the left always upbraid the United States when it attempts to do so?

The most important security lesson of 9/11 was that the passengers are the main line of defense against future 9/11 attacks.

The TSA claims it doesn’t use profiling; I bet the passengers do.

A lot of people sneer at the airport security for searching people who “obviously” aren’t threats, like babies and grandmothers. They shouldn’t. A drugged baby’s diaper would be an ideal place to hide a box-cutter, if it became known that the TSA didn’t search infants. And grandma’s knitting would be a good place to hide a bomb if the TSA gave grannies a pass.

People who would exempt babies and grannies from airport searches are engaging in a variant of profiling.

Profiling is a useful tool, but that doesn’t mean all terrorists will fit the profile. The best ones won’t.

The most promising development in the 10 years since 9/11 has occurred in the past six months: The revolutions of the Arab spring. They offer a real alternative to the existing secular and sectarian pathologies that pervade the Middle East and were the true incubator of 9/11.

A lot of people think these will transmogrify from democratic movements into Islamic ones or into new secular tyrannies. That’s certainly a possibility, but there might be one saving grace we have been overlooking in the rush to predict that these revolutions will end badly:

When contemplating whether to transform their countries into Islamic republics, the Arabs have the example of Islamic Republic of Iran to consider. In 1979, the Iranians had no idea what life in a real, functioning Islamic republic would be like. The Arabs do.

It’s not just the Sharia law, the pervasive oppression, the suppression of women, the increasingly corrupt clergy, and increasingly weak economy. There is also the matter of the Iraq-Iran war, with its 500,000 dead. Religious zealots get into fights; it flows from their intrinsic intolerance and inability to compromise.

Arabs contemplating the Islamic option will have to ask themselves: “Do I want to sign up for that?” Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com