In reading Opinion Journal's Best of the Web (BOTW) today, they linked to this Andrew Sullivan blog entry. I think it's instructive to look back at this, almost 4 years removed from that terrible day.
I would be a fool to predict what happens next. But it is clear that Bush will not do a Clinton. This will not be a surgical strike. It will not be a gesture. It may not even begin in earnest soon. But it will be deadly serious. It is clear that there is no way that the United States can achieve its goals without the cooperation of many other states - an alliance as deep and as broad as that which won the Gulf War. It is also clear that this cannot be done by airpower alone. As in 1941, the neglect of the military under Bill Clinton and the parsimony of its financing even under Bush must now not merely be ended but reversed. We may see the biggest defense build-up since the early 1980s - and not just in weaponry but in manpower. It is also quite clear that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East must be ramped up exponentially, its intelligence overhauled, its vigilance heightened exponentially. In some ways, Bush has already assembled the ideal team for such a task: Powell for the diplomatic dance, Rumsfeld for the deep reforms he will now have the opportunity to enact, Cheney as his most trusted aide in what has become to all intents and purposes a war cabinet.
The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column. But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed toward a new president is now the most passionate in his defense. Anyone who has ever tried to get one over on a New Yorker knows what I mean. The demons who started this have no idea about the kind of people they have taken on.
But what the terrorists are also counting on is that Americans will not have the stomach for the long haul. They clearly know that the coming retaliation will not be the end but the beginning. And when the terrorists strike back again, they have let us know that the results could make the assault on the World Trade Center look puny. They are banking that Americans will then cave. They have seen a great country quarrel to the edge of constitutional crisis over a razor-close presidential election. They have seen it respond to real threats in the last few years with squeamish restraint or surgical strikes. They have seen that, as Israel has been pounded by the same murderous thugs, the United States has responded with equanimity. They have seen a great nation at the height of its power obsess for a whole summer over a missing intern and a randy Congressman. They have good reason to believe that this country is soft, that it has no appetite for the war that has now begun. They have gambled that in response to unprecedented terror, the Americans will abandon Israel to the barbarians who would annihilate every Jew on the planet, and trade away their freedom for a respite from terror in their own land.
I wonder if he know how right he would be at the time...
Read the entire BOTW post to see additional blog entries over the years that were right on the money...
ARC: St Wendeler