15 years later, the scourge of terrorism is still with us.
Granted, we haven’t seen an attack on the scale of what happened on September 11, 2001. But terrorism continues to consume a large amount of this nation’s resources and seep into the consciousnesses of many Americans.
Osama bin Laden has been killed, but al Qaida is still an active threat.
Saddam Hussein was captured and executed, but Iraq is now the nesting ground for Islamic State, which started as an al Qaida offshoot.
What have we learned in the past 15 years that can make the next 15 years safer for America and the rest of the world?
15 Years After 9/11: Much Accomplished, Much to Be Done
Bennett Seftel – The Cipher
[A]s the U.S. has continually adjusted its strategy in the War on Terror, the tactics and ideologies employed by terrorist groups have also shifted. In fact, after the U.S. crippled al Qaeda’s capabilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ISIS emerged as a more potent enemy with a more lethal narrative….
al Qaeda seems to have dedicated its resources towards orchestrating spectacular events, including attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, and of course 9/11, while ISIS’ motto seems to be one of inspiring individuals to carry out smaller scale and lone-wolf attacks in its name.
Americans Are More Worried About Terrorism Now Than They Were After 9/11
Andrew McGill – The Atlantic
It turns out Americans’ sense of security is tied to partisan identification. Democrats were the pessimistic party for most of the last decade. Republicans, on the other hand, were fairly confident in the country’s security. But as soon as Barack Obama took office, the polarity flipped; Republican discomfort soared, and Democrats suddenly felt a lot safer.
The parties haven’t changed their minds on the tradeoffs of national security, where they sharply diverge. For years, Democratic respondents have said they care more about making sure anti-terrorism policies don’t restrict civil liberties, while Republicans maintain the government hasn’t done enough to protect the U.S.
But researchers are alarmed—not by the presence of the divide, which will probably always exist, but the degree. Kiley thinks the gap between Democrats and Republicans on security has grown so large that it can’t be explained by presidential preference alone.
15 years After 9/11, Is America Any Safer?
Steven Brill – Defense One
Are we safer? Yes, we’re safer from the kind of orchestrated attack that shocked us on that September morning. It’s harder for terrorists to get into the country, and harder for them to pull off something spectacular if they do. But we have not plugged some of the most threatening security gaps.
Have we adjusted, politically and emotionally, so that we can make rational decisions as a government and as a people to deal with the ongoing threat? Not yet….
The reality we face 15 years after the September 11 attacks is that for all the people and money we have thrown at the cause of “never again”—much of it heroically and wisely, and much that in hindsight looks desperate, stupid, or corrupt—the threat of terror hasn’t been eliminated. In fact, despite our best efforts, terror is destined to become, yes, routine—a three- or four-times-a-year headline event, perhaps almost as routine in this country as people with mental-health problems buying a semiautomatic and going hunting at a school or movie theater.
2016 Terror Threat Worse than 2001: 9/11 Commission Chairmen
Lee Hamilton & Thomas Kean – USA Today
The approach of the past 15 years, dominated by military counterterrorism operations, will not suffice. In the 9/11 Commission Report, we warned that terrorism would “menace Americans and American interests long after Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are killed or captured.” We stressed that our strategy “must match our means to two ends: dismantling the al-Qaeda network and prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.” We have yet to match our military might with an equal focus on the ideological aspects of the struggle. Until we do, this threat will not diminish….
Fifteen years is too long to wait to get our strategy right. We cannot risk another decade-and-a-half of policies that do not reduce the terrorist threat.
9/11 at 15: The Falling Dominoes of September
William Rivers Pitt – Truthout
We greeted the 21st century with great anticipation. One year, nine months and eleven days into that new century, that anticipation exploded in sorrow and dread. Fifteen years later, the pall of poison smoke from that day still hangs low over us all. The great mission for the remainder of this century is plain: We must get out from under the control mechanism September 11 has become. We must stop the dominoes from falling. Doing so will require a foray into our deepest selves, a confrontation with what we have allowed to happen. It will not be easy, for there are some who enjoy being afraid and have a need to be told what to do, and they will fight to keep matters as they stand.