Posts For: September 11, 2011
The moving article that Abe links to by Raina Wallens—who lost her husband on 9/11—is a reminder of just how personal a national tragedy can be. And it puts to special shame the attempts by some pundits today—Paul Krugman and Kathleen Parker foremost among them—to use today’s anniversary to take potshots at the American people in their moment of grief and remembrance. I was especially fond of this paragraph of Wallens’s:
Our culture’s need to wrap everything in a bow and deliver meaning — especially when it comes to grief and loss — ignores the depths of experiences, the intensity and the fullness, and the fact that certain events have no meaning or if they do, they can’t be summed up in a tweet.
Ten years after the September 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden has been killed, and al- Qaeda has been diminished to a shell of its former self. But the anti-Western hate that drives the terror group is still echoed by some Muslim leaders:
As millions of Americans remembered the nearly 3,000 men, women and children killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated his claims that the U.S. staged the attacks to justify overseas military aggression and profit from weapon sales.
Here is the most beautiful and penetrating piece of writing you’ll come across today:
We like to mark anniversaries, don’t we? We like round numbers, and summaries, and retrospectives. But for many of us who lost someone on September 11, the 10th anniversary is meaningless. Or perhaps not meaningless, but no more meaningful than any other anniversary we’ve endured.
Today, Americans are remembering the events of ten years ago and mourning the victims as well as honoring the heroes of that tragic day and its aftermath. It is, as Abraham Lincoln said when he dedicated a memorial to the heroes of another time, “altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” Though much time has passed, the wounds of the families who lost loved ones are still fresh. And for all of the efforts by some to distance themselves and our country from the memory of that awful tragedy, the nation’s trauma is also still easily relived as the tears many of us shed this morning while watching the services of commemoration prove.
But as much of our thoughts must be with the families of the victims today, as a nation we should understand our remembrance must have a purpose that goes above and beyond mere sympathy. The Islamist attack on America on 9/11 was not a bizarre one-off event. It was part of a war that did not begin that day and has not ended.
This video of Speaker Boehner and Vice President Biden is, as a friend of mine pointed out, kind of charming –two old-fashioned politicians caught on an open microphone unaware, talking about golf and enjoying each other’s company prior to the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress. They showed good humor and what seems to be real affection for one another.
It made me like both Messrs. Boehner and Biden more. And it’s a small but good reminder that incivility and animosity hasn’t infected every Democratic-Republican relationship in Washington.
Just prior to the 9/11 anniversary, the State Department announced that it would, with Turkey, launch a Global Counterterrorism Forum. Until Turkey and its allies among Arab states recognize that terrorism is a black and white phenomenon, and cannot be justified by Turkey’s political whims, the forum is little more than a sick joke.
Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, hails Turkey’s participation on one hand, but on the other, refuses to acknowledge from his post in Washington that Hamas bombs in restaurants and buses are terrorism. In the Turkish government and foreign ministry’s view, if the victim is Kurdish, it is terrorism, but if the victim is Jewish, it is deserved. Until the Turkish regime is willing to stop its embrace of Hamas, they should receive no legitimacy in the counterterrorism fight.
I’m sure that, like most commentators who regularly opine on current events, I’ve made my share of mistakes during the years. But leftist freelance writer Jordan Michael Smith hasn’t found any of them. In the Washington Post, he offers a “pundit scorecard” ten years after 9/11. Not surprisingly, he applauds leftist pundits and tries to deride conservative ones–including yours truly. He offers me the “Wishful Thinking Award.” (Thanks! Is my check in the mail?) Here is the case he makes:
Not since the bombing of Pearl Harbor destroyed American isolationism has a school of foreign policy thought been so discredited as neoconservatism was by the insurgency in Iraq. Yet in the first months after the 9/11 attacks, neoconservative plans to redesign the Middle East found a sympathetic hearing in the White House and among the commentariat. Probably the most romantic neocon was military analyst Max Boot, who believed that the world was desperate for American domination.
The American Jewish Congress has been through a rough patch recently, having weathered the financial crisis particularly poorly. Last year, it laid off most of its staff and temporarily suspended operations. Yet, in the last few months, it has tried to renew its presence. Its president, Richard S. Gordon, visited the White House, and the group also found time to issue a statement on the death of Osama bin Laden.
Yet, if the American Jewish Congress hopes to fully re-emerge onto the stage of Jewish advocacy organizations, it must rectify one of its major wrongs. On January 26, 2004, the group presented Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with its “Profiles of Courage” award for promoting peace between cultures. Even at the time, the award was a mistake, but the American Jewish Congress’s leadership had put wishful thinking above dispassionate analysis about Erdoğan’s actions and the changes he sought to implement.
I have to admit I chuckled while reading Philip Stephens’ oped in the Friday Financial Times on “The dangers of American retreat.” Now they tell us.
After spending years complaining about the overweening arrogance and unilateralism of the “hyperpower,” Europeans are now fretting that we are a crippled giant that will no longer be willing to defend them–something they are unwilling, indeed unable, to do for themselves because of the enormous costs of their welfare states. As Stephens notes, even “the emerging powers”–the likes of India, Brazil, Turkey and China–”have prospered from the security and opportunity afforded by U.S. oversight of a rules-based system. They are not yet ready to shoulder the burden. A Hobbesian world will be uncomfortable for the rising and the risen alike. Some – think of India, Vietnam or Indonesia– already see the U.S. as a balancing force.”
Many states will vote for unilateral Palestinian statehood at the United Nations on September 20. Let us hope they consider their votes carefully, because they will create a precedent that can impact more than a dozen other countries.
After all, if the Muslim bloc can use its population and oil leverage to extort votes of smaller countries on this issue, why not replicate the same strategy in Indian-controlled Kashmir? Russia, China, and Indonesia are also vulnerable to regional separatism, especially should regional states decide to support insurgencies or separatist movements.
For the last year or more, Democrats have been scoffing at the notion they are worried about retaining their hold on the Jewish vote. But the news that the Democratic National Committee spent a portion of its Friday meeting in Chicago trying to school its major donors and fundraisers to “Jewish messaging” makes it clear they know they are in trouble.
The prospect of a Republican victory in the heavily Jewish 9th New York congressional district special election on Tuesday is just the tip of the iceberg. Anger in the Jewish community about President Obama’s less-than-friendly attitude toward Israel has affected vital fundraising for the Democrats as well as raising the prospect the GOP will increase its share of the Jewish vote in 2012. Apparently, after nearly a century of dominance in the Jewish community, Democrats feel they have to start teaching themselves how to craft a message to a group second only to African Americans in terms of loyalty to their party. But any message that attempts to rally support for a president whose economic policies are failing badly as well as having a record of picking fights with Israel is going to be a tough sell.
I have written a couple of blog items defending the NYPD’s Intelligence Division from the animadversions of the Associated Press which has published two lengthy articles suggesting there is something nefarious about its activities. The case for the NYPD is made even more powerfully yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Judith Miller.
Based on the comments of Commissioner Ray Kelly and his subordinates, she provides chapter and verse about 13 terrorist plots against New York foiled in whole or in part by the NYPD’s vigilance.
Taken together as a unified whole, 9/11 was the most successful single act of deliberate mass murder in the history of the world—and had things gone a bit differently with Flight 93 and the plane slamming into the Pentagon, it might have been the most startling effort at national decapitation in world history as well. When we talk about the thousands of children who grew up without mothers and fathers, we somehow neglect to understand that these were the orphans of murder, and we know that murders are the most insidous acts on earth, that the scars they leave are often poisonous and continue to threaten the health of the survivors. One of the 9/11 stories I know is about a young father of three whose grief-damaged parents crowded his widow so profoundly that she fled from them and denied them access to the children; they sued her for visitation and lost. None of the adults in this incredibly sad tale was bad or cruel or hostile; it was that finding a normal way to be after the murder was impossible for all of them. When I think about the damage done by 9/11, I think of them and the pain they must be in today. The purpose of 9/11 was to make the entirety of the United States feel as they felt and feel. That didn’t happen, though to be sure, our politics and our culture grew startlingly poisonous in its wake, and the evident desire of many to blame their American antagonists for 9/11 in part or in whole is an odd and sad mark of the enduring effectiveness of the attack.