David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Monday, September 11, 2006
Thoughts on September 11
Miscellaneous thoughts on September 11, five years later.
It was early evening before the day's labors receded and my thoughts turned to September 11. When they did, they -- that is, my thoughts -- did not array themselves in a coherent, logical, structured essay. I wrote such a thing once and later published it here at the blog in two parts: Looking Back: 9/11, Part One and Looking Back: 9/11, Part Two.
But if you only have time, patience, or fortitude for one article about September 11, on this fifth anniversary, you should read Peggy Noonan's from last Friday, not mine from yesteryear. (Now I tell you.)
The Home Field Disadvantage
Unless I have forgotten some essential history, no one now alive can remember the last time -- prior to September 11, 2001 -- there was a major foreign attack (military or terrorist) on one of the states of the Union, let alone three. (Hawaii and Alaska were not states in 1941.) And no one alive today can remember anyone who could remember the last time a foreign army occupied part of the United States. (I'm not counting territories such as Guam, which the Japanese occupied in World War II.)
There's an important home field advantage in sports. In war, the opposite is true. Fighting wars in someone else's country devastates families, the economy, and political life. Fighting wars on one's home turf destroys everything. Ask Japan or Germany or Russia, or read the history of our own Civil War. Far better to invite terrorists to fight us in Iraq than Indiana.
Making a habit of fighting wars abroad (as opposed to doing it at home) requires some extra airplanes and ships. But it also includes the real risk that the public, which does not see the enemy firsthand, will lose its will to win, or even lose interest, before what must be done has been done. I'm not at all sure that we have the intelligence, historical sense, and moral courage for a long war. We'll see.
Any war which must be fought -- like the current one -- is also a war which must be won. This is true even if -- perhaps especially if -- it is against an unusual enemy who defies definition and who is motivated by a religious agenda which is medieval in every uncomplimentary sense of the word. And who flies airplanes.
Lincoln, Gettysburg, Ground Zero
Is it possible that the shade of Abraham Lincoln hovers over Ground Zero in Manhattan, silently intoning familiar, slightly edited words from Gettysburg?
If . . .
If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, is the friend of my enemy my enemy? Is the enemy of my friend my enemy?
Ahem. Did I just question the loyalties (or at least the judgment) of much of the BMA and the vocal, Bush-hating, antiwar part of the Democratic Party?
Yes, I do believe I did. Maybe you should, too.
Not all the enemies are abroad or here under deep cover. What will it take to frustrate the ones that are here in the open? Is persuasion sufficient? Or will we have to see one of our cities destroyed by a nuclear weapon?
More Things to Read
Finally, if you're looking for more of the recent commentary on 9/11, and you don't want to wait for my Saturday reading list, here's what I've liked so far on the subject. (Peggy Noonan's essay is still the best.)
Copyright 2006 by David Rodeback.