Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 1, 2007

9/11 is Over?

Filed under: General Homeland Security,International HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on October 1, 2007

Tom Friedman’s piece in yesterday’s NYT made a heck of a sound point: “We have to get our groove back.” By that he means that the America we knew may have changed on 9/11, but it doesn’t need to go on changing along the same hyper-secure trajectory along which the costs risk outweighing the benefits.  I’ll be the first to admit that our efforts to secure the homeland against terrorism are needed and unfinished. However, Friedman’s observation suggests we do not need to have only two views on this issue:

In one corner we have the New York Times editorial staff. In the other corner is Secretary Chertoff. The NYT ran an editorial suggesting that the Administration’s invocation of 9/11 and the terrorist threat supports political objectives and obscures the real challenge of securing the homeland. Secretary Chertoff’s “how dare you” rebuttal roundly criticized the NYT for failing to mention a number of accomplishments and risking the reemergence of another vulnerability: a public’s eroding commitment.

Break it up, gentlemen. Freidman offers a third way that makes sense. Recognize that we are winning in the fight against terrorism, narrowly defined. Consider the externalities of our “global war on terror,” particularly the ones that come back to bite us (i.e. declining credibility in crucial regions, important international organizations, and visitors to the U.S. that make this country great).

Despite all the negative overtones when just about anyone in the world is asked about the fight against terrorism that followed 9/11, we are not in it alone. While researching this topic I found several dedicated programs underway at the European Union, NATO, and countless non-government organizations. Get this: there’s an International Institute for Homeland Security, Defense and Restoration. Sign me up. We run a serious risk of losing the fight against terrorism and the effort to protect civilan populations if we fail to work together. Collaboration can be a decisive advantage.  That’s something the terrorists can’t attack.

However, Friedman’s correct when he points out that we can lose this fight by simply changing who we are. Its just not worth it to be secure in a non-America where the role of government, free speech, and commitments to the next generation are obscured. Friedman calls for a “9/12” mentality as opposed to a “9/11” mindset.

If the NYT is 9/10 and the Secretary is 9/11, who will represent the 9/12 way forward? Perhaps we should give some space on this site for the presidential campaigns to weigh in….

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4 Comments »

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Comment by Benn Tannenbaum

October 1, 2007 @ 11:17 am

Jonah–

Hear hear! We are rapidly becoming a nation of sheep, content to remove our shoes when told to do so. We keep fighting the last battle, and are willing to give up any number of rights that our nation’s founders felt were inalienable. We are, I fear, in danger of losing that which makes us American….

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 1, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

Just finished reading a book by British journalist Robert Fisk entitled “The Great War for Civilization.”
The title comes from the phrase on battle ribbons/medals given to British WWI vets. Mr. Fisk has reported on life in the Islamic World for his entire career. Whether or not you agree with him seems to be the most definitive answer yet to “Why did they do it” meaning 9/11. Having had virtually no knowledge of the Islamic World before 9/11 to my shame that book makes me cross the 50 mark since 9/11 on the Islamic World and its history. Some recent books of interest that involve that history are William McNeils “The Pursuit of Power” covering the last 1000 years of world history and the rise of the west, the modern nation state, and the MIC-military industrial (and I add Academic) Complex. Another “House of War” by James Carroll. Of coursee several Tom Friedman books have been covered as well as most of Bernard Lewis’ books. Also recommend “Ghost Wars”, “Imperial Hubris”, and the “Age of Sacred Terror.” The knowledge is there should we choose to learn it. My definite conclusion is that “they” don’t hate us for our “democracy” but for our long support of anti-democratic elements in the Islamic World and that even if we’re not involved, the divisions between “secularism” and “Islam” and within “Islam” itself bode ill for the next century for the world. Add the volatility of energy issues and there is real cause for concern that the leadership of the west may not be competent enough to continue its dominance in any forum from business, education, military capacity, etc. Overall it is most important that colleges and universities in the US start teaching languages including Hebrew, Urdu, Pashto, Persian and Court Persian (Farsi), Arabic, etc. We are an ignorant country with ignorant leadership. I put myself at the head of the list.

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