There is a lot of response, some of it negative, on?my article about the Afghanistan war, most of the serious criticism was around my use of the word ‘fluke’.
In summary:?We have over 8 years of hindsight on 9/11 to gain some kind of preliminary historic perspective on that tragic event. ?Was 9/11 a war declared on the way of life of the West lives, and started by a highly organized Islamist organization with sleeper cells everywhere, and supported by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?
Or, was it a crazy plot of fanatics that slipped through lax security, lazy intelligence follow-up, and a couple of poorly designed buildings that exponentially increased the material damage and loss of human life? ?What do the past 8 years tell us: ?countries are united with the U.S. against terrorism, prosecutions for terrorism are at pre-9/11 levels.
On the other hand, a great many people who were arrested have been released, and al-Qaeda has been determined to be more of an ideology than an international organization. Iraq was a dud, Guantanamo a sick farce. Since 9/11, if we consider the whole world, the ratio of successful anti-terrorist actions to false and unsuccessful attempts is about 1:1000. ?With?international co-operation, some states think they have been given a license for extrajudicial violence – China, Russia, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi, etc. ?And some think that it is time to unleash the worst kind of hatred and misery on Muslims, Christians and other minorities – prime among them Israel and India.
So, my take was: Pursuing Quixotic wars against phantom enemies, and by bombing civilians will never get us anywhere and will fan flames of extremism and terrorism everywhere. 9/11 was, most likely, a one-off event whose terrorist success was far worse than its planners’ best hopes, and it was one of history’s tragic events, and a turning point. We are much more cautious now and a couple of sinister plots have indeed been nipped in the bud. ?But after 8 years and about a million killed or wounded, isn’t it time to move on? And make the world a safer place using tried, tested and rational means? Intelligence, prosecutions and policy?
Otherwise, there is no end, for ‘victory’ is undefinable, and even if it is, it will be increasingly out of reach.
That was the thrust of my article, and that has been the verdict of the Nobel Committee today by giving Barack Hussein Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. ?Basically, the message was: Mr. Obama, you said a lot of nice things, now is the time to really act on them, and move on.