Columbus Dispatch | The years after 9/11 clearly show terrorism isn’t the threat it seemed

History has been derailed. It was chugging along quite satisfactorily until the end of 2000: the Cold War long over, no threat of a major war anywhere, democracy spreading even to the most unexpected places by nonviolent means and a growing commitment to multilateralism in all the major powers.

Now there is a great and greatly exaggerated fear of terrorism, American troops rule over 50 million deeply unhappy Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 55-year-old NATO alliance is starting to come apart under the strain and even the United Nations is at risk.

Was the world bound to end up in this mess, or have we been the victims of a huge historical accident?

The two main forces that have driven us off the familiar track and down this worrisome detour are the Islamist terrorists of al-Qaida and the neoconservatives who populate the upper reaches of the Bush administration. Was it really inevitable that al-Qaida would invent a novel way to carry out a massive terrorist attack that would cause thousands of casualties? And was it equally inevitable that American neoconservatives would use that terrible event as a launching pad for their own project?

Editorial writer Gwynne Dyer, unless I am reading him incorrectly, goes on to explain that the events of 9-11-01 could not possibly happen again and therefore required no military response.

Robert A. Heinlein | Letter to John W Campbell, dated 12-9-41

(From Grumbles From the Grave)

My feelings toward the Japs could be described as a cold fury. I not only want them to be defeated, I want them to be smashed. I want them to be punished at least a hundredfold, their cities burned, their industries smashed, their fleet destroyed, and finally, their sovereignty taken away from them. We have been forced into a course of imperialism. So let it be. Germany and Japan are not safe to have around; we are bigger and tougher than they are, I sincerely believe. Let’s rule them. We did not want it this way – but if somebody has to be boss, I want it to be us.

It is testimony to the innate decency of the American people that we are able to overcome this understandable reaction–that we wish to overcome it–and limit ourselves to destroying our enemies’ ability to perform the American genocide they’ve so clearly said they desire.

Certainly, if we’d wished it, Afghanistan would have been glazed by now.

I would prefer, like Mr Dyer, to simply live my life and let Iraq go to hell in its own way. Much as I believe that the people of Iraq would prefer our way of life to Hussein’s rule (and emigration statistics would seem to bear that out), much as I believe they should have that choice, I’m not sure that in itself is sufficient reason to invade Iraq.

But that’s not why we did it.

It’s obvious that the democrats believe this to be Bush’s war, not theirs. Electing a Democratic president at this time will mean the end of the war and a statement before the United Nations to the effect of “You’ll have to excuse the previous administration, he’s an idiot.”

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