Thursday, February 15, 2007

Putting 9/11 into perspective

Professor Bell writes an opinion piece in the LA Times "Putting 9/11 into perspective". He certainly puts it in a perspective, though it's not a very coherent one.

One thing he says in his summary paragraph of the Islamists:
To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.

Now I know lefties disagree with me strongly, but I believe that the first sentence describes Bush's approach. He's shown coolness in not panicking when things haven't gone well. He's kept his focus, and he's emphasized resolve and stamina -- two things glaringly absent in the language and proposed actions of his opponents.

The second sentence doesn't even really make much sense. If by enemy we mean "someone who doesn't like you", then maybe I can see it. But in the context of international relationships, an enemy is pretty much by definition a threat to our existence. Al Queda's writings and communiques explicity threaten our existence, and they believe they can bring us down precisely because people among us will make arguments like Prof. Bell does in his article.

When someone threatens my existence, especially when they do it repeatedly and with much bravado, and even more especially when they back it up with actions -- I don't know, I kinda take it as a ... what's the phrase I'm looking for? Oh yeah, a threat to my existence. Call my crazy.

Lee Harris of TCS Daily wrote an impressive rebuttal. In his summary paragraph, he writes:

.... it may well turn out that the USA, instead of overreacting, failed to react strongly and forcefully enough. 9/11 as an act of unprovoked aggression is without parallel, and those who celebrated it throughout the Muslim world did so with complete impunity. In the eyes of our enemy, our failure to respond immediately and indiscriminately to the attack has not been chalked up to our humanitarian zeal, but to our weakness.
If you've read Al Queda's stuff and watched Muslim reactions all over the world, it's hard to disagree.

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