It's been going on 7 years since 9/11, putting us on a course that put us in a war against global terrorism. Since I don't think anyone else is doing it, I figured I'd give some thought to how well the war on terrorism is going.
In the aftermath of 9/11, America took a bold step forward to challenge the terrorists, one I still agree with wholeheartedly. Yet, as time has passed, that bold step has been turned into a baby step. We're still fighting the terrorists as we should be doing, but I don't think we really think about the importance of that fact on our daily lives. President Bush, to his credit, told us that it would take a while to win, but we didn't get that. For many Americans, a long time is two weeks.
Like it or not, we got spoiled during the 90s. With the Soviet Union falling, we were the lone superpower in the world, so we did what seemed logical at the time and started to scale back our military operations and retool our thinking. With these actions, we became insulated with a false sense of security while another global threat on the horizon waited for its time to strike. And strike it did.
Once we saw that we weren't as safe as we thought, we woke up for a time. Ah, but with time, political spin from both major parties, and a shortening attention span or perspective on history, many Americans either forgot we were fighting the war on terrorism or merely disregarded it like a year-old advertising slogan. Once this started happening, we started losing the home front in the war on terrorism.
If you were to ask the average American on the street today whether we were winning or losing the war on terrorism, I honestly think the majority would say we were losing. Why? Although we haven't done everything we should be doing (like securing the borders and using more realistic standards for airport security) to combat terrorism, we're at least in the game. That's a step in the right direction, but we need more than a step. We need to be willing and able to fight the terrorists where they are and tell our international critics to sod off.
Unfortunately, we're not doing as much of either as we need to in order to be serious about fighting international terrorism. We're so concerned about fighting the "right" war that we're giving up ground to those who don't share our sense of battlefield fairness. The terrorists can and will use our freedoms and adherence to preserving them where we can against us. In short, while we squabble over whether to shut down Gitmo or whether the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, we're taking our eyes off the terrorists who want us dead.
We're past the point where we can point to one President or another as being to blame for our lack of readiness on 9/11. Looking at the past is only useful as a tool to know what not to do in the future. Instead, we should have our eyes fixed on our eventual goal and the path to get us there.
Yes, dear readers, we need to rethink the war on terrorism, not whether it was a worthy undertaking, but whether we're really fighting it as well as we need to do to survive. And if we're not, we need to figure out how to make it happen so that we do. Our nation's protection, and the protection of the world for that matter, isn't a political football to be tossed around during an election year to help one candidate or another. We need to take the war on terrorism seriously, and that requires us to do some serious rethinking about it to ensure that we're taking it as seriously as required to win it.