If 9/11 was intended to frighten America into abandoning the Middle East, it failed. What the jihadists could not have anticipated was America's toughness.
But they did hurt us, and we've been bleeding internally ever since. 9/11 deeply slashed American politics, as Daniel Henninger writes so well in this Wall Street Journal editorial:
It is one thing to disagree with the decision to go to Iraq, to oppose it and abhor its most painful consequences. It is something else, as some have done, especially in Congress, to withdraw and withhold support for a presidency amid war and to work to thwart virtually every aspect of its war program...
This is not Social Security reform; it is not a capital-gains tax cut. It is a war, or whatever euphemism one wishes to use to describe resisting the up-and-running forces that planned 9/11, London, Madrid, the foiled airline-bomb and all the other murders of innocent civilians whose crime was that they affronted radical Islam.
Presumably we want to succeed in this enterprise, that is, stop them. Instead, we stop ourselves...
One would think that a system serious about staying steps ahead of a declared mortal enemy... would prefer to do so with a nation closer together than farther apart. Not us. Our evident presumption is that we can remain deeply divided politically, work daily to deepen the divide, and still prevail. This is a novel and untested theory. Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal, 8-Sep-2006
There is no question that the radical islamists see westerners as their enemy, and enemies of God himself. One need only listen to their own words to realize that the jihadists are not really after a change in US foreign policy, but the radical remaking of western society, beginning with a complete submission to Islam.
Adam Gadahn's recent call to the west to convert to Islam was no stunt. It should serve as a wake-up call, and a starting place for some much-needed unity in the fight against terrorism.
The west was built on liberty, both personal and religious. Radical Islam sees freedom as the root of all evil. Christianity speaks of freedom as a gift from a generous God. These two religions, these two world views, these two interpretations of the nature of God could not be farther apart. One of them is wrong.
On this anniversary of 9/11, many tank trucks of ink will be spilled criticizing the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's wider war on terror. Most of these criticisms will be so blinded by partisan thinking that they will miss the biggest threat we face in this war disunity.
As the four planes obliterated themselves on that terrible day, snuffing out almost 3,000 innocent lives, the hijackers were not heard shouting "death to America" or "death to Zionism" or "death to Bush." They shouted "God is great!"
If we stopped our bickering long enough to consider the implications of those warped and blasphemous prayers to a false God, we might learn something about the enemy we face. And we might just find some common ground on which to stand and begin repairing the wounds America suffered on 9/11.
Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun