The events of September 11th, 2001 marked the worst failures in the history of the United States Armed Forces and the Intelligence community.
It was a failure for the Armed Forces in that thousands of American civilians were killed on our own soil. This is not an attribution of fault, but an appraisal of mission failure; for in the end, our uniformed forces take bullets so that our civilians don’t have to.
The failure of the Intelligence community was the proximate cause of the failure of the Armed Forces to prevent the mass murder perpetrated on our civilian population. The brunt of that failure is attributable to Jamie Gorelick and those like her who instituted “walls” between the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies who had in their possession the individual pieces of the puzzle, without having enough in any single agency to piece the whole together.
The remedies the Commission (which coincidentally included the aforementioned Gorelick) suggested and which Congress enacted have done little to correct the true defect, and have instead added new levels of bureaucracy and whole new Federal Agencies at great expense for null results.
Comparisons between the events of September 11th, 2001 and those of December 7th, 1941, are at best very loose. The forces which attacked us on December 7th, 1941, did so by surprise, but were clearly identifiable as Japanese forces. They targeted military installations on the Island of Oahu (then a United States territory) and the Philippines (then a United States protectorate). In neither case were civilians deliberately targeted.
The forces which attacked us on September 11th, 2001 also attacked without warning, but there ends the similarity. They were not clearly identifiable, they deliberately struck at civilian targets with the intent of maximizing civilian casualties. The only military installation attacked, the Pentagon, was an administrative facility housing more civilians than uniformed members of the Armed Forces and which was largely extraneous to actual military operations.
More importantly, the entity which attacked us ten years ago today was not a sovereign nation.
A non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged in an act of war (which was also a war crime in that it deliberately targeted civilians) against the sole super-power.
The other truly significant difference lies in outcome to date.
By the tenth anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day the Empire of Japan had been utterly defeated and compelled to surrender unconditionally more than five years previously. This was achieved at an incredible cost in blood (~230,000 military casualties) and treasure.
Ten years on from 9/11 we have eliminated one threat (Iraq), dislodged the Taliban from the failed state they had taken over (Afghanistan), and killed or captured most of the al Qaeda leadership responsible for the atrocity at a cost of ~6,500 military casualties. In short, our enemies have been suppressed, not defeated. Their sponsors and enablers remain untouched.
We’ve also learned some interesting things about ourselves along the way.
- The left is incapable of staying the course with regards to war.
- A war can be won despite the active opposition of the left.
- The left can and will squander hard won military gains when in power.
Our failure to achieve a victory following 9/11 comparable to our victory following Pearl Harbor Day is not a failure on the part of our Armed Forces. Nor is it a failure on the part of our Intelligence community (as much as those agencies are still in dire need of being rebuilt from the ground up). This failure is a failure of political will.