September 14, 2006 | Commentary on National Security and Defense
How can anyone argue that the world did not change on September
11? This week, the fifth anniversary, reflections suggest that the
world has changed in many ways.
Watching the memorial services and listening again to recordings of the distress calls from that fateful day makes you think again about the enemy we face. Mostly, perhaps, the horrific events of that day have forced us to think about what kind of world we want to live in, and what we will do to defend our way of life in a liberal democracy.
An article in Foreign Policy magazine, "The Day Nothing Much Changed" by managing editor William Dobson argues sophistically that the world did not change on September 11, that in fact it changed 15 years ago with the end of the Cold War. That made the United States the sole remaining superpower, and, at the same time, this kind of power made the United States a target to a degree it had never been before, not only for anti-Americanism but for terrorism as well.
"The tragedy of 9/11," writes Mr. Dobson, "was a manifestation of a unipolar disorder the world had entered a decade earlier. A day after 9/11, we were still living in the post-Cold War era, we still are today, and that is precisely the problem." As has frequently been done by critics of the United States post-September 11, this line of argument turns the blame for the attack back on the United States and on American power.
While there is some logic to the argument -- especially given the timing of the initial attack on the New York Trade Towers in 1993, which followed closely on the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as other terrorist attacks that went unaddressed by the Clinton administration throughout the 1990s -- it is clear that by the sheer magnitude of the September 11 attacks much has changed in the world. Not only is there the way it changed the American psyche, but also the way the Bush administration has looked at the world. Let us look at the ways:
Occupants of the White House -- Democrats and Republicans --
cannot afford to be complacent about the threat of terrorism. Five
years on, we are still struggling through its long shadow.
Helle Dale is director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in the Washington Times