A war we still have not learned to fight

11 Sep

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Three thousand people died.  It was up close and personal for many of us, especially for those who live or who have family/ friends in New York, Pennsylvania and the DC area.  First responders associated with ground zero have suffered terrible illnesses and death from the toxins associated with the World Trade Center’s debris, while many others experienced and continue to suffer from PTSD.

  • A common question asked on this day is “Where were you?”

I used to retell a story about Susie and I being at MD Anderson Cancer Center watching the news as we prepared for her neuro-oncology appointment.  Us frantically trying to get information about our loved ones both in NYC and in Virginia, lines being down and not hearing updates until late afternoon.  It also included me trying to find the status of my team mates, some of whom were in the air on the day of the attacks.

Nine Eleven Memorial Pools

9/11 Memorial Pools

As the years passed, this question seems to be raised less and less.  I noticed the posts and articles honoring loved ones lost in the attacks have also lessened.  I wonder if this decline is because of time or if the West has become desensitized with the growth of Islamic terrorism, namely attacks in Boston, Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris, Manchester, London, Barcelona…  I feel there is a pattern now happening across the world, a memorial/ tribute is organized where politicians encourage us to bury the bodies, shed a tear and then move on with life.

If anything, I feel with each subsequent attack our Western governments illustrate that they are continuing to fail us, its citizens.  In the US, you would think we would have acted in accordance with the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. In some cases, the government actually acted in direct opposition to those findings and recommendations.  In Europe, borders have become porous with a massive migrant crisis from North Africa and the Middle East, which has resulted in an increase in anti-Semitism, terrorism and crime.  Just last year, migrant crime in Germany jumped 50%.

  • The correlation with increased terrorism seems quite obvious.

The immediate reaction to 9/11 was bipartisan and international support back in 2001 was near absolute for attacking Afghanistan’s supporting and harboring Al-Qaeda.  Since former President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the water has gotten very muddy.  Lines have been drawn with significant polarization regarding policy and opinion due to multiple geo-political and violent events in the Middle East.  Unfortunately we cannot go back in time and see how things could have been different without an invasion of Iraq.  But to think the Middle East was a picnic in the park before the Iraq invasion ignores past facts and conditions on the ground.

  • Nevertheless, a coherent strategy for combating Islamic Extremism has been grossly lacking.  After 16 years and little progress, its no wonder why Americans have lost faith in both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Whether you are Conservative, Liberal, Progressive or whatever, I think the below interview with Yahya Cholil Staquf, a leading scholar in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country (Indonesia), is appropriate to read on today’s 9/11 anniversary.

Keeping our heads in the sand regarding Islamic Extremism dishonors the memories of the men, women and children who died/ were injured 16 years ago and those who continue to perish/ suffer today.