With the 9/11 Anniversary two days away Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby says America's war on terror strategy is working:
IF THERE WAS one thing we all knew after Sept. 11, 2001, it was that another massacre was coming. The next terrorist attack on US soil, it was asserted time and again, was not a matter of if, but of when.Jacoby’s got it right. Remember all those pundits saying, “It’s only a matter of time?” Most of us listened and nodded.
Americans weren't the only ones who expected Al Qaeda to commit another slaughter. Al Qaeda did, too.
Earlier this year, terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed that in addition to 9/11, he had been planning to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Empire State Building, and to blow up US embassies and nuclear power plants.[…]
What happened? Why, thank God, have there been no successful attacks in America these past six years?
There is no definitive answer to that question. But surely the place to begin is with the belated recognition that we were at war.I often worry there isn’t enough appreciation in the West for our civilization and enough willingness to use “ a terrible swift sword” to defend it and destroy our enemies who are bent on killing peaceful people and inflicting the horrors Muslim extremism on those who survive.
The jihad against us didn't begin on 9/11. It had started long before, with the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Years of Islamist bombings, hijackings, and hostage-takings followed, but few Americans recognized that war was being waged against us by a determined enemy that cried "Death to America!" and meant it.
In a New York Times column two months before 9/11, the former deputy director of the State Department's counterterrorism office pooh-poohed as "fantasies" the belief that "the United States is the most popular target of terrorists" and that "extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism."
The attacks of 9/11 ripped away such comfortable misjudgments. President Bush declared at once that we were at war with terrorism, and likened it to the global wars against Nazism and Communism.
The US government overhauled its counterterrorism operations, moving aggressively to disrupt and damage Al Qaeda's maneuvers abroad and to uproot would-be jihadists at home.
After years in which terrorism was regarded as a legal crime to be prosecuted after the fact, the Bush administration made preemption the overriding goal. Instead of waiting for terrorists to strike, the government - armed with expanded powers to seize records, monitor communications, and search homes and businesses - would strike first. […]
Terrorist funding channels were choked off. Reliance on human intelligence was dramatically expanded. American counterterrorism officers worked closely with their counterparts in friendly countries to identify jihadists and - as with last week's arrests in Germany - prevent attacks.
Taking the war to the enemy in Afghanistan deprived Al Qaeda of a secure base and crippled its leaders' ability to travel and communicate. Many Al Qaeda operatives have been killed; others have been seized by US troops and forcefully - sometimes too forcefully - interrogated. In all these ways and more, the United States has indeed been fighting a war on terrorism, a war more intense, more unrelenting, more sophisticated, and - as six years of domestic safety suggest - more successful than anyone could have conceived before 9/11.
But if the terrible events of that day finally concentrated American minds on the deadly threat from radical Islam, the US response to those terrible events may have had a similar effect on the minds of Osama bin Laden and his allies.
It is one thing to launch spectacular attacks against a paper tiger that doesn't have the spine to fight back. It is something very different to attack a superpower that reacts with fury and a terrible swift sword.(emphasis added)[…]
We're in a war with enemies every bit as evil as the Nazis.
Something else: While our strike first and hard strategy has had a deterent effect, it’s not a guarentee we won’t be hit in the future. When we're attacked again here in America, they’ll be the usual people talking about what we did to deserve it and how we need to “be nicer.”
Baloney. We need to be much tougher now, and we’ll need to be much tougher then.
Jacoby reminds us of that in his close:
What is in the enemy's mind we cannot know for sure. What we do know - what 9/11 made brutally clear - is that we are at war. The enemy is in this till the finish. We had better be, too.Jacoby’s entire column is here.