Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 thoughts...

Unlike Lorie, my reactions wasn't "shock, disbelief, and sadness, but most of all a vulnerability that did not exist on September 10". Why should anyone have been shocked? Islamic radicals had been attacking us -and successfully - for years. It was silly to think they weren't still trying to do so - and in a big way. It was silly to think that America was doing what it took to detect and prevent such attacks. We were vulnerable then... and we still are. We still don't do what needs to be done to protect ourselves. Every day I wake up, I halfway expect to hear of another successful attack on America.

Pearl Harbor is not such a good analogy for 9/11. Yes, 9/11 was a sneak attack, on American soil (I know Hawaii wasn't at the time) and we took a lot of casualties, but while Pearl Harbor was the opening salvo in a war that many thought wouldn't take place, 9/11 was but one battle in an on-going conflict. I think the Japanese attack on our forces in the Philippines is a better analogy, for there too American defenses were unprepared despite our having knowledge we were in a war.

As I've written before, Bush botched our response by framing this as a 'War on Terror', when it wasn't so much the tactics of our enemies that we were fighting as the enemies themselves, and regardless of the tactics they chose. Put another way, it isn't as if we would have been okay if the Islamic radicals had attacked a US military base while wearing uniforms.

Creating the Department of Homeland Security was another huge mistake, and for two reasons. The problem wasn't that we lacked the structure to defend ourselves, we already had an FBI, a military, intelligence agencies and so on. The problems were that not enough people took Islamic radicalism seriously enough (they still don't, even with having created DHS) and bureaucratic competition kept agencies from working together. Creating DHS didn't do anything to change the former and there is no less competition between agencies within a Department than there is between Departments.

95% of the security procedures put in place at airports is a waste of time and money. The tactic the 9/11 attackers employed was obsolete as soon as news got out of the first place hitting the WTC. Never again would passengers sit passively while attackers took control and never again would the aircrew meekly hand over the controls. Yet TSA employs most of their effort at screening passengers and searching for contraband such as scissors and sewing needles and not enough effort at searching for explosives.

And as far as remembering 9/11, I'll remember it as a battle we lost in a larger war... along the lines of the above-mentioned Philippines, Kasserine Pass, the initial stages of the Battle of the Bulge. I'll remember it as the day our lack of preparedness came back to bite us in the rear. I'll remember it as the day most Americans finally realized we were at war.

Unfortunately, even though our enemies haven't surrendered, they haven't given up their goals, most Americans seem far too willing to put out of their mind that we're still at war and we're still vulnerable... and it doesn't help that our President is more focused on turning today into a 'day of service' than a reminder that we need to stay prepared and stay on the offense against our enemies.