It is difficult to say what’s harder to believe: that is has been 11 years since the 9/11 atrocities, or that national security has become an irrelevant issue in the most consequential presidential election in decades.
The first observation reminds us that today is a day of remembrance: of the loss of nearly 3000 of our fellow citizens; of the bravery of those who willingly gave their lives to save others; and of the heroism of the men and women who put on the line all that they have. That includes the love and well-being of their families, on whom the burden of American national security has been imposed while the rest of us go on with our lives — too often, without giving them a first thought, never mind a second.
No matter which political party has been in power since 9/11, there has been a great deal of bloviating about “the rule of law.” It is as if we had evolved beyond anything so crude and benighted as armed force and national interest — especially national defense. Let’s remember today that we have the luxury of living under something resembling the rule of law only because dedicated Americans sacrifice themselves to confront evil — in this case, the adherents of an evil ideology, Islamic supremacism, that is closer to the law of the jungle. The rule of law has precious little to do with why we have gotten through 11 years without a reprise of 9/11. A better explanation is that terrorists who have been captured or killed cannot commit more terrorism.
On the matter of evil, it is good to remember that it exists. Evil is not a misunderstanding, a cultural gulf, or a natural reaction to political policies adopted in pursuit of American interests or Israeli self-defense. That brings us to the second observation: the fact that national security concerns are absent from the 2012 campaign, even with tens of thousands of Americans at arms in distant hellholes, even with tens of millions of Americans enduring the increasingly overbearing government that has been the cost of heightened vigilance in an era when barbarism is met with political correctness.
The United States defeated the ideological threats of the twentieth century because we were unafraid to see evil for what it was — to diagnose it and understand it. Today, we ignore it, rationalize it, and assume we are somehow to blame for it. For the bipartisan ruling class, 9/11 is about “violent extremism” — as if irrational, wanton killers, seized by a “psychological disorder,” committed mass-murder for no better reason than to visit on the world’s most famous office buildings the most shocking case of “workplace violence” in history.
The “violent extremism” narrative is nonsensical. It defies reality as well as history. But it is a convenient fiction. For the Obama Democrats, it miniaturizes the enemy. With the killing of bin Laden, the president can now portray the enemy as defeated — even as al Qaeda resurges; even as Iraq has become an Iranian-influenced sharia state that works against the U.S. and Israel (remember when “victory” was defined as a “stable” “democracy” that is a “reliable ally”?); and even as Afghan Islamists (a redundancy, I know) turn their weapons on their American trainers, and the administration pleads with the Taliban to negotiate (remember when “victory” was defined as a “stable” “democracy” that “prevents the Taliban from returning and giving safe haven to al-Qaeda again”?). The “violent extremism” canard allows the administration to declare victory even as we are being humiliated.
The Republicans are no better. They want no part of dealing with Islamic supremacist ideology. To see it, diagnose it, and understand it as, say, Reagan did with Soviet communism, would — they’ve decided — result in their being slandered as “at war with Islam.” It would, moreover, lay bare the lunacy of the “Islamic democracy” project, which is what became of the incoherent “war on terror” after mid-2003 — a futile, prohibitively costly debacle. Indeed, it is the ambition of the Republican establishment to double down on this enterprise in Libya and Syria, among other venues, even as we see its wages in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey — “sharia democracies” that are among the world’s worst human rights violators. Most Americans see an enemy when they look at Saudi Arabia — where sharia is the only law, where religions other than Islam are banned, where women are systematically abused, from whence Islamic supremacist ideology is propagated throughout the world, and from whence hailed 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. The Republican establishment looks at Saudi Arabia and sees a “key counterterrorism ally” with whom we may have, you know, a few “minor disagreements.”
In sum, the Obama campaign does not want to talk about national security — other than “Obama killed Osama” — because with the Middle East unraveling, with its record of abetting the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascendancy, the president’s claim of success is specious.
The Romney campaign does not want to talk about national security because talking about terrorism reminds people that Obama killed Osama, and talking about “promoting democracy” suggests more Iraqs, Afghanistans, Libyas, and coming soon, Syrias — self-defeating exercises that most Americans want no part of.
Neither campaign wants to talk about the ideological threat that imperils us, Islamic supremacism, because the Brotherhood’s American network has intimidated or co-opted them into believing that doing so would make them “Islamophobes.” Besides, to acknowledge the ideology would oblige them to do something about it, and then we’d have to concede that all these wonderful allies we’ve cultivated actually despise the West and work energetically to undermine us.
So remember 9/11 today. It will go back to being forgotten tomorrow.