While this may seem to be a dire title for a blog post, it comes with a simple explanation: since the age of legal adulthood in America is 18 and eighteen years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, there is no child alive who was around on that day. Henceforth, the only way a child will experience the event is through their parents or via history books.
This passage of time, however, is but a blip in the timeline of how long we have been at odds with radical Islam. (I hesitate to say “war” because this conflict has rarely played out in a military manner.) From the early 19th century battles with the Barbary states (then-kingdoms of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis – now the nation-states west of Egypt along the north African coast) we’ve often conflicted with Islamic states over the post-World War 2 period. (We even conflicted with them during the war, as several Islamic leaders backed the Axis powers.) Some examples:
- our soft coup in Iran in 1953 – with Great Britain’s help we overthrew a prime minister who had nationalized the oil companies
- our subsequent backing of the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi – an alliance which lasted until the cancer-ridden ruler was exiled in 1979 (he died a year later)
- the taking of hostages at our embassy in Teheran, which lasted over a year until their release as Ronald Reagan took office
- the suicide bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, where 241 Marines perished in October, 1983 – just six months after a similar attack at the American Embassy in Lebanon killed over sixty
- Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-91, to rebuff Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait
- and, finally, the various military operations since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, et. al. as part of the War on Terror
I’ve often referred to this battle as the Long War because it was expected to last for decades. Aside for the Iranian coup all of these events have occurred during my lifetime; however, with the exception of a few months in 1990-91 during the runup to Desert Storm (which, as a military operation, lasted just a few weeks – and only a few days as a ground war) we were never on a war footing until 9/11 occurred. Since then we’ve been on a perpetual state of war, as undeclared as it might be. 9/11 is the annual reminder that we have enemies in the world.
Yet we have reached the point now where an entire generation has come of age under that war footing, with no real resolution or end in sight. There are many who compellingly argue we should pull out of Afghanistan like we’ve withdrawn from Iraq and Syria; others plead their case for staying the course. That’s not as much of an issue for me as the loss of civil liberties we’ve endured over the last 18 years under the guise of fighting this war on terror.
I may be accused of having a 9/10 mentality, but perhaps the best way of dealing with radical Islam comes in a covert fashion rather than an overt fashion. Don’t make the rest of us suffer because at that point the terrorists win.
Finally, a programming note: Because of my impending move and despite our loss in the playoffs, I’m pushing back my August/September Shorebird of the Month to September 19. Shorebird of the Year will be September 26 and picks and pans comes October 3.