The Tricky Part of 9/11 and the Middle East

Today is the sixth anniversary of the 11 September attack, and this time it’s on the same day of the week (Tuesday) as the 2001 original.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this site on the subject of the Middle East, from the 2001 piece When the Sheep Have Anthrax onwards.  There’s one thing that’s clear: winning the “war on terror” (which isn’t a very accurate statement of the problem) isn’t a military problem.  Even with its much smaller volunteer military, there’s no question that the U.S. can achieve a military victory.  We’re seeing that on a limited scale in Iraq now.

The problem we have is twofold.

The first is that the U.S.–rightly–is unwilling to “do what it takes” to achieve a purely military victory in the Middle East.  Back in the 1930’s, Rodolfo Graziani boasted to his boss Mussolini that he could take Ethiopia “with or without the Ethiopians.”  That could be done in the Middle East also.  The problem with that is not only that Americans, even in their present deteriorated moral state, are not prepared to stomach the atrocities that go with that, but that in the long run the blowback from such a horror would be the end of the country.

The second follows the first: unwilling to take the military solution to the end, we cannot find a political solution that will work in the Middle East.  That’s largely because we don’t understand the Middle East, something that this blog has beat on incessantly and especially this time last year at 9/11: Learning Little, Forgetting Nothing.

So we move onward, remembering those who perished at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and Flight 93.  As Christians, our best response is to do what we’ve always done: pray and share the good news that Jesus is Lord and will succeed when our politics fail.  And failed they have, with little relief in sight.

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