One unfortunate current in the commemorations of the tenth year after 9/11 has been a widely promoted narrative that we lashed out, overreacted, and — through Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terror — not only lost our post-9/11 unity and “civility,” but supposedly alienated most of the world while playing into the hands of al-Qaeda.
In this regard, most unfortunate was the blog posting (replete with all the tired formulaic slurs about “fake heroes,” “hijacking of the atrocity,” “neocons,” etc.) by Paul Krugman today that reprehensibly scoffed, “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame.” It most surely has not. Such an unhinged view would imply that we would have escaped comparable serial attacks without the provisions we took, and that Krugman’s view was widely shared by liberal politicians who at least since 2009 were invested with the ultimate responsibility of governance. Untrue on both accounts, as we just saw in Vice President Biden’s moving speeches about the act of war once declared on us by these “stateless actors” and his thanks to a previous administration for crafting a successful response.
So we forget both that we now have the luxury of such second-guessing only because some thirty major terrorist plots aimed at strategic U.S. targets were subsequently foiled through our new anti-terrorism protocols, and that the most prominent critique of the Bush administration’s national-security effort — mostly strongly voiced during Barack Obama’s long 2007–08 presidential campaign — quickly transmogrified into an official embrace of the Bush-Cheney policies during the Obama presidency between 2009 and 2011. Apparently the responsibilities of the presidency are not those of writing a blog.