Wednesday, August 18, 2021

articles on the 20th anniversary of 9/11

A beautiful piece by Jim Kushiner in Touchstone based on history, providence, and Christian theology. 

Jennifer Senior's account in The Atlantic is a powerful, personal, and poignant article on 9/11's impact on one family. 

Stephen Presser in Chronicles on the Surveillance State subsequent to 9/11. We're still bearing "fruit" from the largely-bipartisan willingness to (heavily) trade-off liberty for security. Just like the mid-1990s GOP success and Bush II's profligacy killed off most of the conservatives, 9/11 and President O-bomb-a killed off most of the liberals. Now, we're mostly left with Lefties, Righties, and a ton of feckless pols and enabling partisans.

George Packer's article in The Atlantic has much good analysis in it. 

1.) Setting the context about the relative peace/prosperity that we faced (and confident complacency that we chose) between the end of the Cold War and 9/11. Tech advance made it seem as if economic woes  and body bags in our military efforts were a thing of the past. 

2.) How we ignored the Islamists for a decade when they had been trying to get our attention. This is excusable for the general public, but not so much for the bureaucratic failures and in-fighting that prevented us from realizing, assessing, and mitigating the dangers at hand. (Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower is excellent on this. Here's my review. See also: the Netflix series.)

3.) He argues that there were three "influential scripts": the US as innocent advocates for freedom (conservative interventionists); "blowback" by relatively powerless people against powerful interlopers (Libertarian-- or at libertarian/liberal on this issue; see: my review of Pape's book which provides the academic analysis of this concern); and the US as duty-bound to use its military to support human rights and "democracy" ("liberal interventionists"). In practice, the interventionists of both stripes dominated the political arena, until it became increasingly obvious that intervention wasn't working all that well. 

4.) The Islamists won in a sense-- as we "fell into the jihadists' trap and embarked on an undefined, unwinnable War on Terror, while imagining, as Bush declared, that 'it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing'." (I had forgotten that quote of amazing hubris.) But in the long-run, they didn't win-- at least in a positive manner-- having "receded as a strategic threat". 


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