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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

9/11 multiples

In this essay, Victor Davis Hanson is, as so often, eloquent and exactly on the mark (albeit with at least a couple of targets that are only loosely related). I commend it to you in its entirety. But I was particularly struck by these two paragraphs near the end:

So the great disconnect in this present war continues, one that tests whether a sophisticated affluent West that eschews violence and nobly professes its wish to evolve beyond war, capital punishment, and unilateral preemption can defeat an ideology that is openly reactionary and seeks to return to the primordial world of the 8th century when beheading, limb-lopping, sharia law, and half the population in burqas were normal.

This is now a boring topic since 9/11 — our postmodern refinement and their premodern savagery. One final thought though. I used to hear people say, "It will take another 9/11" to come to our senses about our real peril. Now in several gloomy conversations I hear instead, "It will take three or four 9/11s to ..."

I'm not quite sure whether Professor Hanson agrees, but I'm genuinely sad to find myself in growing agreement with those who say that it will likely take "three or four 9/11s to" re-awaken America and the world's genuine, Western-inspired democracies to our peril.

I could not help but be reminded during the late President Ford's funeral ceremonies of how — despite his administration's best efforts in late 1974 and early 1975 — a newly radicalized opposition Congress cavalierly and eagerly broke our solemn promises to our South Vietnamese ally. Our South Vietnamese ally then was certainly a troubled land still, notwithstanding years of our protection, but it was one that had indeed begun to stand on its own feet and likely would have continued to do so — if only the Ford Administration had been permitted by Congress to continue with the financial and military aid we initially provided after our ground troops departed.

Our new Congress seems similarly foolhardy.  And as in Southeast Asia in the mid-1970s, the late-2000s may see hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of innocents dislocated, imprisoned, wounded, and/or killed, in the Middle East and South Asia.

We, of course, won't be doing the slaughtering ourselves. But a critical "but-for" link in the causal chain of those disasters will be closely tied to the fact that something approaching a majority of voting Americans either lack historical perspective, share a ridiculously short attention-span, or else have been successfully misled and deceived by "useful fools" who do fit those descriptions.

I hope those hundreds of thousands or millions won't be Americans. But I do indeed fear that the "two or three 9/11s" of which Professor Davis wrote may be combined into one much, much uglier episode — one in which the number of casualties on American soil will be a multiple of the 3000 lost on 9/11/01, and not necessarily or even likely with a multiplier as low as two or three.

"Remember back when," it will be asked then, "we thought that 3000 military deaths in Iraq was outrageous? Oh, would that we could have limited our latest death tolls to that!"

"Yes," will come the reply, "and remember how innocent and stupid we were when 'global warming' became the signature issue in the 2008 presidential campaigns? What were we thinking? Why ever did we think we could end the war — one we were already in before 9/11, even though almost none of us recognized it before 9/11 — simply by pulling up and going home?"

Posted by Beldar at 01:28 AM in Global War on Terror | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to 9/11 multiples and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) PC14 made the following comment | Jan 10, 2007 4:05:26 PM | Permalink

Great post Beldar, great minds think alike. Mark Levin shares similar sentiment.

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 10, 2007 8:14:32 PM | Permalink

I'm more cynical than you when it comes to the American public. I think that even everyday Americans have become so secular and elitist in their attitudes that, despite their rhetoric of caring for others, they don't really value other people's lives and aren't willing to risk their lifestyles (let alone their lives) to help others.

It's not unlike the Soviet elites who espoused the equality of all men while they drove their luxury cars in special highway lanes to their private dachas.

(3) dchamil made the following comment | Jan 11, 2007 10:02:45 AM | Permalink

We can't just withdraw from Iraq, since there will then be unpleasant consequences for those Iraqis that supported us, right? Well, no, we're not virgins. As Beldar remarks, when we left Vietnam, those who supported us fared badly. More recently, after Gulf War One we abandoned the Kurds to whatever fate Saddam had in store for them. How about South Korea? We've been there 50 years. Is our commitment to defend the South Koreans going to last until the sun grows cold?

(4) El Jefe Maximo made the following comment | Jan 11, 2007 10:03:06 PM | Permalink

I was listening the other day to some fashionably dressed people talking about how it'd be better if the Chinese had to run the world.

As I was sitting there in the fancy restaurant, seeing them in their imported clothing with their Swiss watches, as they drank their Chilean merlot, and had their Jamaican coffee, and watching them leave to get in their Lexuses, fueled no doubt by Mexican gas -- which comes to them cheaply because oil producers trade in dollars, I was thinking that they deserved what they were asking for.

(5) Paul Zrimsek made the following comment | Jan 11, 2007 10:11:16 PM | Permalink

You mean it will take.... 2733 or 3644? (/Team America)

(6) sherlock made the following comment | Jan 13, 2007 2:36:15 PM | Permalink

"...a majority of voting Americans either lack historical perspective, share a ridiculously short attention-span, or else have been successfully misled and deceived by "useful fools" who do fit those descriptions."

It's mostly the last factor. My wife hates GWB, but ask her why and she just says "he's an idiot" and rolls her eyes. How surprising is this, when she has been told that 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for 6 years now?

I just hope the next 9-11 gets a few of the MSM bastards that helped make it possible. That means you, Chrissy.

(7) Dick Stanley made the following comment | Jan 15, 2007 12:50:43 PM | Permalink

There's a thought, Sherlock, let the jihadis off the NYTimes, along with the other New York casualties. We in the heartland at least can hope they stick to their preference for the coasts.

(8) Jack made the following comment | Jan 18, 2007 12:05:44 AM | Permalink

It would more likely take attacks under another president and one in a different party. Of course, still being involved in Iraq will just be blamed for whatever happens. So I guess ultimately, no matter how many or who does it, or when, some people will just never view terrorism as a continuous threat. They'll find a way to make it political way before they get all of the facts in.

(9) George Purcell made the following comment | Jan 30, 2007 3:47:35 PM | Permalink

Good to see you back, Beldar.

Don't blame folks on this one...frankly, given the unremitting negativity the American populace has been blasted with post-9/11 (and particularly post-Iraq War) I'm surprised that public opinion remained as high as long as it did.

Future war plans will need to figure that the press is an enemy and that the public will last only two to three years under its assault before collapsing.

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