A 9 11 Memorial Is No Substitute For Resolve (Part 3 of 3)
A 9 11 memorial does not take the place of sacrifice and true understanding of the conflict and the enemy. The first failure of leadership regarding homeland terrorist attacks followed hard on the heels of the premature detonation of a truck laden with explosive devices in the underground parking of the World Trade Center.
The President, Bill Clinton, or his staff, perhaps Janet Reno, determined to treat the event as a criminal matter rather than an act of war, or at least, terrorist sabotage, therefore only the weight of one piece of the Cabinet was effected to action. While other agencies clamored for attention.
This was a grievous error which would return nineteen years afterward in Benghazi to haunt an already damaged Clinton brand. It was a matter of mindset then, it is a matter of mindset today, more of a long-term medical condition than an operable function of geopolitics. And the manner of redress is glossed over in the identical fashion.
A criminal offense is terribly personal in nature, and it is the worst occurrence in a life. But its very nature, the identification as a crime, divorces the rest of society from the reality. It happened to someone else, what a pity, how sad for them, becomes the mantra, perpetuated by media, and pandering officials. It’s personal for the immediate friends and family, but, happily, the event did not touch others. What a relief.
The second failure was of longer duration. There was immediate clean-up, recovery. Business could not be interrupted because, even in early 2001, there were rumblings from finance edge dwellers that all was not well. The economy had to continue because unbeknownst to the public, the government was living paycheck to paycheck. Granted the paycheck was huge, but the depressive effect of 9/11 on a stretched economy could be foreseen, and it was. No one spoke of it, but it loomed.
Ancillary to the failure was a barely prepared military that required huge influxes of capital to prepare for war. President Bush did not call for any sacrifice as FDR begged. Instead, he assumed, and banked on, the historically resilient economy of the United States. It had recovered before this, it would recover again, and it was a fair assessment. But he ignored the constant drumbeat of critics who falsely accused as lies the WMD presence in Iraq.
Further, the Bush Administration, neglected to put in place a long-term presence in Iraq to avoid the sectarian violence that arose following American military peacekeeping exit. And this, too, bears on what was, and is missing from present and historical context of today.
What happened, what went missing in the calculus of American reaction was that power entity did its utmost to couch all three homeland attacks as criminal activity, which indeed they were. But due to the difficulty entailed in identification of a national unit as the enemy, the assaults were called crimes. Travesties, to be sure, but this meme served to ameliorate rage.
In truth, the enemy can be named, but because the participants are so geographically separated, so seemingly disjointed, the political correctness of the elite refuses a true character denomination. In an age of immediate contact via the internet, boundaries and borders are erased with a keystroke. But the enemy is one thing, an enemy, no matter how diligently he is obscured by political authority.
The three attacks brought about a commonality unimagined since World War II. They were thrusts unanswered by lasting outrage enough to reply with proportionate and effective response. Holding actions require less than temporary anger.
The United States is engaged in war, but current off-standing shots have almost the same effect the homeland attacks have had, or so was the idea. But the enemy sees the war much as Americans should have seen, as acts of war. It is asymmetry perfected, and it should have been recognized as such. The United States fought in kind, devoid of the key ingredient.
What is missing still?
We have the memorials for remembering, but not until the war is fought. We need something else, and that would be….