There is a very good Leader on 9/11 in the Times today. They are right to call out the NeoCons as being instrumental in the lack of success post 9/11 – their regime change ideology lay at the centre of western failure. The ideology was based on the assumption that American military power was invincible. And on normal battlefields it would be. But like the Vietcong before them the Taliban didn’t do conventional warfare, and they moved to their own timetable not America’s.
Pax Americana achieved by violence has nowhere succeeded post war, or hardly ever. Instead from Korea via Vietnam to Afghanistan there has been humiliating defeat for the United States. And for a time the NeoCons wanted to attack Iran as well!
During WW2 the home front in both the US and the U.K. held firm. The moral rightness of defeating Germany and Japan was clear to all. Subsequent wars have had no such certitude. America was defeated in Vietnam as much by protests back home as by losses on the battlefields. The shock of 9/11 gave public support to America’s military action until, as the flag-draped coffins started coming home, it became clear that victory could not even be defined let alone anticipated.
Catching Osama bin Laden and defeating Al-Qaeda proved difficult enough. Defeating a regrouped Taliban impossible. But still more troops headed East under confused political direction and poor military generalship. When after a decade the so-called “surge” was tried it just led to more body bags.
The Times calls the western response to 9/11 a “disaster” and they are right. It was understandable that after the horrors of the WTC attack we would all say “Something must be done” expecting that Western forces could do it. Up to a point they did, but after that point they didn’t know what to do. And, as later in Iraq, there was no post war political reconstruction plan. Bin Laden may eventually have been caught but that aside there was no closure. And now it’s back to where we were twenty years ago.
I don’t hear much “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.” from the veterans associations or the bereaved families. RIP.