September 11, 2001 constituted a horrific awakening from the post-Cold War delusions of “Peace Dividends” and a “New World Order” to the reality of a “New World Disorder” and a worldwide surge of Islamic terrorism.
The 9/11 reality has exposed Islamic terrorism as a clear, present and lethal danger to the Free World, irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s existence, US pressure on Israel, US generous foreign aid to Moslem countries and US military support of Moslem national aspirations in Afghanistan (against a Moscow-backed regime), in Bosnia and in Kosovo (against Serbia). Autocratic Islamic regimes consider Western-style religious, political, educational and economic liberties fatal threats. Islamic terrorists consider Western democracies infidel societies and geo-political obstacles to be subjugated via terrorism and “Holy Wars” (Jihad), as has been the practice of Islam – confronting “infidels” and “apostates’ – since the seventh century.
The trauma of 9/11 has raised awareness to Islamic terrorism as a threat to the US mainland. The threat is intensified by the proliferation of Hezbollah and Hamas presence in Central and South America, as well as US sleeper cells. The US National Drug Intelligence Center reports that Hamas and Hezbollah collaborate with Mexican drug cartels, furnishing them weapons and distributing drugs in Europe and the Middle East. Muslim terrorists – many of whom are supported financially by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE – operate along the tri- border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
9/11 demonstrated that indecisiveness emboldens terrorists. Thus, the April 1993 attempt on the life of President Bush evoked a timid response: the launch of a cruise missile to Baghdad. The murder of 24 US soldiers, in Saudi Arabia – in November 1995 and in June1996 – did not trigger any military response. 257 people were murdered in August 1998 by Islamic terrorists, who blew up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The US retaliated by launching cruise missiles on insignificant targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. 17 American sailors aboard the USS Cole were murdered in Aden in October 2001. The US responded by killing one of the terrorists. The meek US response to the systematic escalation of Islamic terrorism reaffirmed an Islamic perception of a US in retreat, dramatically energizing terrorists all the way to 9/11.
9/11 highlighted the vulnerability of the US to terrorism. It shifted the US from retaliation – to preemption – mode. For instance, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been supplemented by the pursuit of Islamic terrorists in their safe havens in Pakistan, Yemen, the Philippines and Algeria. At the same time, the anti-US and the pro-Islamic track record of the UN, and the rogue nature of many of its members, preclude an effective global war on terrorism. Therefore, counter-terrorism has been confined to an upgraded cooperation between the US and a few of its Free World allies, such as Israel, Britain, Canada, Australia and France.
In order to avert another 9/11, The Obama Administration has introduced it own approach to counterterrorism. According to President Obama, Islam promotes peace and not terrorism, and there is no global Islamic terrorism. He legitimized the Muslim Brotherhood – the mentor of Hamas – during his May 2009 speech in Cairo. The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, stated that “the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular, eschewing violence.” Obama’s Advisor on Counterterrorism, John Brennan, insisted that “there is no Jihadist terrorism, because Jihad is a process which purifies the soul.” Attorney General Eric Holder, and his deputy James Cole, contended that the US ought to pursue a criminal justice approach to – rather than launch war on –terrorism. And, Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, avoids the word “terror,” preferring the term “man-caused disaster” thus intensifying the case of moral ambiguity
However, moral ambiguity and oversimplification yield operational ambiguity, while moral clarity is essential to achieving operational clarity – a prerequisite to avoiding a repeat of 9/11.