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|09-11-2009, 11:05 AM||#1|
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Some Perspective on the 8th Anniversary of 9/11
We need to stay frosty...
Risky distractions in fighting terrorists By John C. Bersia
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Published on Friday, Sep 11, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla.: On the eighth anniversary of 9/11, Americans are wasting time squabbling over counter-terrorism bragging rights, with former Bush administration officials hurling criticism and Obama team members attempting to deflect it. Rest assured, the nation's adversaries relish, rejoice in and reap benefits from the divisiveness.
Recently, in a rebuttal to former Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser James Jones suggested the United States is really less vulnerable today because of President Barack Obama's efforts to build bridges with other countries. It certainly makes sense that if more nations are on the same page, view terrorism as a collective problem and expand efforts to combat it, positive results should increase.
My concern, however, is that such discussions can distract us from the ongoing terrorism challenge or risk lulling us into thinking we are safer, if not safe altogether. Too many Americans already see 9/11 simply as history, an aberration, a tragedy that has little chance of happening again. After all, they point out, ''nothing'' has occurred in the United States since then. In fact, terrorists have planned and tried to carry out multiple attacks against U.S. targets since 2001. Thanks to a combination of stronger defenses, better intelligence, solid cooperation with allies and, yes, a bit of luck, we have been spared here at home — so far.
We cannot forget, though, that the terrorists are not giving up, have long-term perspectives, are endlessly resourceful and draw advantages from the element of surprise. They need only succeed once in a while to reignite fear and remind the world of their presence and capabilities, whereas we must remain vigilant without pause. 9/11 was one of those times when the terrorists succeeded, and it just happened to fall on the Bush administration's watch. Does that mean former President George W. Bush was somehow negligent, leaving America insufficiently guarded?
Actually, no. He essentially followed in the footsteps of the presidents — both Democrat and Republican — who governed before him during the current wave of terrorism, which started in the late 1970s. After 9/11, however, Bush did what his predecessors never dared: He declared an overdue war on terrorism and endeavored under difficult circumstances to confront the problem more forcefully. Along the way, after a sensible intervention in Afghanistan and other initial successes, the United States deviated from a reasonable course and engaged in excesses that are now being corrected. Even so, the original inclination was correct. The global terrorism threat, which is real and ongoing, must be comprehensively and consistently addressed, blunted and substantially stopped, lest civilization itself become a casualty.
Without question, the United States could do a better job of fighting the scourge that has killed its citizens and trampled its territory at home and abroad so many times. In that struggle, we cannot have enough international cooperation. In truth, even during the Bush administration years, when public rifts had developed with many countries, private discussions of necessity frequently pointed toward collective efforts. Now, apparently, both public and private conversations are more in synch.
But we still have a long way to go, and there is every reason for us to proceed united. The United States' terrorist adversaries are as capable as anyone of appreciating the strain of American political differences. They understand that in moments of uncertainty, dispute and anger, this country is more vulnerable than when it is on track, undivided and calm. We should willingly and decisively move in the latter direction. Otherwise, we might find ourselves urgently taking that course, forced to come together by the next attack.
Bersia, who won a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing for the Orlando Sentinel in 2000, is the special assistant to the president for global perspectives at the University of Central Florida. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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|09-13-2009, 11:02 AM||#2|
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Re: Some Perspective on the 8th Anniversary of 9/11
really truly sucks we never got most of the people responsible for that horrible day
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