Eighteen Years After

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As I have on September 11 every year since I started the blog, I publish a post about the attacks that put to rest any thoughts that we were immune from Islamoterrorist attacks here in the United States.

Many people had forgotten the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Others thought it was nothing more than an attack by a fringe element. Attacks on US assets around the world didn’t wake people up, either.

Now there was no ignoring the threat to our country and our way of life. For at least a while, anyway.

Here is a link to the timeline of the all of the attacks on that day. It seems like a long time ago, because it was a long time ago.The war ignited that day is still going on all these years later.

President G.W. Bush gave the Taliban, who ran Afghanistan, and ultimatum. Give up the Al Qaeda terrorists who perpetrated the attack or face military action. They refused and on October 7, 2001 “Operation Enduring Freedom” started. The Taliban were quickly ousted from power (not defeated) and many of the Al Qaeda fighters were killed or captured.

Still the primary objective, capturing Osama bin Laden was not met for years afterward. The Taliban still control large swathes of the country side outside of the major cities and attack the major cities frequently.

As most people know, bin Laden fled into neighboring Pakistan where he hid until in May of 2011. The Pakistani government, or at least important people in that government, knew where he was and kept that information from the United States. Some allies.

There is a large Taliban presence along the frontier with Afghanistan and they move back and forth across the putative borders with impunity. Part of that is the rugged terrain, part of it is sympathetic officials in Pakistan, and part of it is corrupt and lazy officials in Afghanistan.

Part of it too is how the United States has chosen to wage war. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has decided not to wage total war of the type waged in World War 2.

Throughout recorded history, the only way to win a war is to destroy the enemies ability to  and crush it’s willingness to wage war. From Korea on the US has engaged in a doctrine of limited war.

Add to that the attempts of the US to engage in “nation building” in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq has been a bit more successful, but billions have been wasted in Afghanistan trying to build a nation while the other side is still actively fighting. Think of it as trying to change a tire while the car is still driving.

Which, somewhat depressingly, brings us to 2019. We’re still waging a limited war, and at best holding our ground. It’s more likely that the Taliban and their allies are winning, at least incrementally.

As I mentioned earlier, outside of the major cities there is no “Afghan government.” The Taliban control much of the territory and war lords control much of what’s left. Afghanistan is a convenient name on a map, not a country.

Oh, and Al Qaeda is still out there, but it now goes by the name ISIS. A premature troop withdrawal from Iraq mixed with the ongoing civil war in Syria gave the remnants of Al Qaeda a place and time to reorganize and if anything become more vicious.

Minds much greater than mine have tried and failed to figure out what to do. So, don’t expect an answer to me.

One one hand, we can’t win in the conventional term. On the other, a withdrawal will be a huge victory for an enemy that hopes to impose it’s will on the entire world. Not just the Taliban, but Islamofascism in general. On the third hand, the police and military of Afghanistan have proven wholly insufficient and mostly disinterested in standing up for their own country.

President Trump was trying to negotiate a peace deal of some sort, but the Taliban proved it’s untrustworthy nature by staging a terrorist bombing the very weekend that their leaders were supposed to be here in the US to negotiate with what passes for a central government in Afghanistan and the United States.

The President cancelled the scheduled meeting an notified the world of what he’d done. Frankly, I think he showed more restraint than I could have. I’d have ordered the Taliban representatives taken to Guantanamo left there to rot. Such is diplomacy.

Speaking of Guantanamo, eighteen years of ineffectual war, diplomacy, and “nation building.” The date for the trial of five men accused of planning the attack is scheduled for January 11. Of 2021. Yes, almost 20 years after the attack, the trial MIGHT actually begin down there in Cuba.

In setting the January 11 2021, start, Mr Cohen noted that the trial at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “will face a host of administrative and logistics challenges”.

Which might mean that there never will be a trial.

So, here we are eighteen years after the attacks, with an enemy still undefeated, and the alleged “master minds” still not brought to justice in any form.

I also have to wonder which media outlets will provide coverage on tomorrow’s anniversary? The American public seems to have little interest in the events of eighteen years ago. The people who responded still remember and many of them continue to die each year from illnesses contracted while they were on the scene.

The politicians only seem to be interested in the attacks and the sequelae both medically and emotionally when they can use it to pound on their political adversaries.

Most of the stories center on police and fire responders, but there were thousands of other people who responded and stayed for varying lengths of time and have suffered as well.

All those who have died or become ill in the years following the attacks are also victims of the enemy.

It all seems so futile in so many ways.

You can’t wage a war “humanely” if you expect to win it. Which has been the problem since September 11, 2001. Large numbers of Americans in public and private life refuse to consider that this prolonged war is anything buy humane.

As I said, I don’t have the answers. In fact, I don’t even know all of the questions.

So, I’ll just think about the horrific events of that day as I watched the 21st Century version of the attack on Pearl Harbor unfold on TV.

And think of the dead.

 

 

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.