“Some days back a friend asked me what we have learned twenty years after 9/11. I sent these answers:
1) That our enemies have taken our measure, and we never took theirs. Bin Laden’s strategic predictions vis a vis Afghanistan and the United States have been vindicated: 9/11 was for the other side a massive, generational strategic success.
2) That the entire American governing apparatus is incapable of real strategic thought.
3) That the federal government of the United States is much more inventive, determined, and relentless in curbing its own citizenry than it is in curbing those who would slaughter that citizenry.
4) That the federal government of the United States will allow foreign-power interests — specifically Saudi and Pakistani — to override and eclipse the just interests of the American citizenry.
5) The preceding item exists, of course, because we are ruled by an elite with much stronger social ties to other elites than to the people of our republic.
6) That our generational response to 9/11 guarantees that 9/11 will happen again and again.
This twentieth anniversary is even more depressing and cruel than they usually are. We didn’t suffer as a lot of Americans did that day — my wife made it out of Lower Manhattan alive, for one thing — but because we are Americans, we suffered. Our leadership class was utterly incompetent to the moment, and remained so for the succeeding generation. Today we have inflicted upon us the twin bookends of blundering who mark the two-decade span. In Pennsylvania, President George W. Bush speaks: the man who cared more for Saudis than Americans while the fires still burned, who abandoned the hunt for the immediate perpetrator mere weeks after the massacre, and who cynically leveraged the moment to pursue his own disastrous projects. In Manhattan, President Joe Biden speaks: the lone figure of significance who opposed the raid to get Osama Bin Laden, and the man who presided over the shameful humiliation of defeat in Afghanistan.
A healthy and virtuous republican citizenry would shun them, and erase their names from the record.
Some questions arise. Now that we’ve decided it’s fine for Al Qaeda and the Taliban to have a country of their own again, can we at least abolish the TSA? Now that we’ve given Al Qaeda and the Taliban a stupendous cache of arms and ammunition, can we eliminate all federal gun-control law? Now that we’ve decided we have a community of interest with the Taliban — including its Al Qaeda elements — can we release everyone jailed on account of January 6th?
, just asking. It hardly seems unreasonable for Americans to ask Washington, D.C., for treatment as generous as Washington, D.C., accords the terrorist movements who slaughtered thousands of us in our own streets.
Eric Paliwoda is dead, and for what.
Kim Hampton is dead, and for what.
Classmates are maimed, and for what.
Friends are wracked with PTSD, and for what.
What did we learn?
Twenty years later, we learn that the enemy won — and our ruling class was on their side.”