No Closure to the Traumatic Events of 9/11

by ALEX ALEXIEV September 10, 2011
As we mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, there is a strong and understandable temptation to seek a kind of emotional closure to the traumatic events that shocked the nation a decade ago. After all, as we’ll undoubtedly be reminded by what calls itself the mainstream media, it has been ten years and with Osama bin Laden dead and the ghastly deeds of a rightwing Norwegian psychopath fresh in our collective memory, it is easy to imagine 9/11 as a now distant, one-off event whose relevance to our present is fading away.  It might be understandable, but it is a wrong and perilous temptation.  
It stems from the deeply engrained predilection to see 9/11 as the opening salvo in a war of terror against the United States that we were forced to wage. A “war on terror” against a small group of “evil doers ,” personified by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda,  that we could win by simply wiping them out. And it now seems to many that we have done just that and the terrorist threat is not only receding but the evil doers may no longer even be the same – witness Anders Breivik.
But what if this “war on terror” mantra, though assiduously cultivated by both the current and previous administrations , is little more than a dangerous illusion. What if we have never been in a war on terror, which after all is a symptom and a tactic rather than the real enemy, but in a war with a murderous and determined Islamist ideology that aims at nothing less than the destruction of our civilization. Looked at this way, our successes in foiling terrorist acts seem ephemeral, while our failure to contain the spread and influence of radical Islamism looms ever larger.
Consider the evidence. A few months ago, Western politicians and pundits alike joyously sang paeans to the “Arab Spring” that was to bring to the long-oppressed Arab masses political freedom and democracy. Today, as the “Arab Spring” increasingly looks like an Arab Winter, the chances that the corrupt and oppressive pre-‘Spring’ regimes in Egypt and elsewhere will be replaced by much worse Islamist  ones seem better than even. In Palestine, it is now the terrorists of Hamas that are playing first fiddle, making war rather than peace with Israel far more likely. In Turkey, a NATO member and the most important Muslim country by far, the Islamist AKP regime has beaten the secular military and the press into submission by a vicious campaign of intimidation, arrests and judicial persecution on trumped up conspiracy charges. To no one’s surprise, it has also decided to sever Ankara’s decades-long close ties with Israel as yet another sign of its anti-Western course. The last serious obstacle to an Islamist dictatorship in Turkey has, thus, been removed and the fervent hope of the bien pensants that Islamism and democracy can co-exist has yet again proven to be just that. Indeed, under its foreign policy doctrine of neo-Ottomanism, the AKP regime increasingly acts as radical Islam’s Trojan horse in the Balkans, Central Asia and beyond.
Further East, Iran and Pakistan, long the prime examples of the utterly destructive influence of Islamist ideology and sharia on government and the well-being of the people, continue to support  jihadist terrorism as they drive their countries into the failed state category and, in the case of Pakistan, virtually guaranteeing that our efforts to build a free and democratic Afghanistan will come to nought. In Nigeria, recent terrorist strikes by the jihadist Boko Haram group testify to the gradual transformation of Nigeria’s northern half into a hotbed of radical Islamism that augurs ill for the continued cohesion of this important African country. Even in India, a strong and vibrant democracy, the latest terrorist acts in Mumbai point to a strong home-grown Islamist movement, a fact that the left-leaning Delhi government, which relies on the Muslim vote, has never been willing to acknowledge.
Delhi shares these hide-your-head-the-sand  attitudes with the European Left, which is increasingly seeking electoral alliances with the radicalized Muslim diaspora populations against their political opponents to the long-term detriment of the secular, democratic order. And these Muslim diaspora communities are increasingly becoming the sites of Islamic parallel societies that reject European culture and democratic norms and indeed act as extraterritorial enclaves where the writ of European law no longer applies. There are 750 such “no-go” Muslim ghettoes in France alone, another 40 in the Netherland and many more in Great Britain and elsewhere in Western Europe. Over all, there are now some 20 large European cities where the Muslim population is approaching 20% or more. With an average age of 26 compared to over 40 for the native Europeans, a 20% share of the population translates into a near majority in the under 18 years of age cohort.
Finally, in the United States, we are justifiably proud of the fact that, the Fort Hood massacre excepted, we have not suffered a major terrorist attack since 9/11. But few, and least of all the Obama Administration, have stopped to think that of the several dozen foiled terrorist incidents since 9/11, virtually all were committed by Islamists born, raised and indoctrinated to hate in America. If they did, they would have to answer the uncomfortable question as to how it is possible that in the middle of the prosperous American Muslim community, the murderous Islamist ideology is alive, well and spreading.
And unless we begin to ask these questions, it is very unlikely that 9/11 will anytime soon fade into an unfortunate but no longer relevant episode in American history. For as President Reagan said in his historic speech to the House of Commons in June of 1982: “If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.” Contributing Editor Alex Alexiev is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C.

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