Ralph Peters is a regular columnist with the New
Register here for access to the Post's Online Edition.
Five Years On
biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn't been an other 9/11.
According to our hysterical media culture, everything's
always going wrong. The truth is that we've gotten the
big things right.
fifth anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of thousands of
Americans by Islamist fanatics, it's tempting to settle
for grand rhetoric honoring our dead and damning our enemies.
But the greatest tribute to those lost on that September morning
is what we've since achieved.
vile political season, with those on the left suggesting that
our president's a worse threat to civilization than Islamist
terror, the rest of us should just review what's happened
- and what hasn't:
Ralph Peters - Contributor
Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books,
as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both
under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist
for the New York Post and other publications. [go to Peters Index]
fanatics have not been able to stage a single additional
attack on our homeland. For all its growing pains, our
homeland-security effort worked. In this long war with religion-poisoned
madmen, the most important proof of success is what doesn't happen
- and we haven't been struck again. Wail as loudly as
they can, the president's critics can't change that
some terrorists will get through. That's just the law of
averages. But we've enjoyed five golden years of safety
and prosperity, thanks to our men and women in uniform and
those who serve at all levels of government.
is badly crippled. While the terror organization and
its affiliates remain a deadly threat, al Qaeda is no longer
the powerful, unchallenged outfit it was in the years of
Clinton-era cowardice. Instead of holding court, Osama bin
Laden's a fugitive. Almost all of his deputies are dead
or imprisoned. The rest are hunted men.
we'll get Osama. Those who whine that we haven't offer
no specific solutions themselves - and they'd like us to
forget how long it took to apprehend criminals such as the
Unabomber here at home. Al Qaeda can still kill, but its power
has been reduced by an order of magnitude.
no longer operate in freedom. Even Europeans have begun
to awaken to the nature of Islamist fanaticism. One terror
plot after another has been foiled. Those that succeeded
proved counterproductive, mobilizing anti-terrorist sentiment.
The world hasn't fully come to grips with the threat,
but the progress has been remarkable. The terrorists are
now on the defensive.
fear our military again. Despite tragic mistakes in Iraq,
we've already accomplished one crucial mission neglected
for a generation: We've resurrected the reputation of
the American soldier.
maddening retreats from Beirut and Mogadishu, and the Clinton
administration's unwillingness to retaliate meaningfully
after terrorist attacks, Islamist extremists concluded - and
bragged - that Americans were cowards who wouldn't fight
and hid behind technology. Well, Iraq proved that our troops
don't run, but fight more fiercely than any other soldiers
on earth. Now it's the terrorists who rely on stand-off
weapons - roadside bombs. They're terrified of taking on
our forces in combat. The importance of regaining our street
cred can't be stressed enough.
has become al Qaeda's Vietnam. No end of lies have
been broadcast about our liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan "creating
more terrorists." The terrorists were already there,
recruited during the decades we looked away. Our arrival
on their turf just brought them out of the woodwork.
As for Iraq,
Osama & Co. realized full well how high we'd raised
the stakes. They had to fight to prevent the emergence
of a Middle Eastern democracy. As a result, they've thrown
in their reserves - who've been slaughtered by our soldiers
obsesses on the price of this fight for us, but the terrorists
have been forced to pay a terrible cost in trained fighters
- while alienating fellow Muslims with their tactics. Pundits
will argue forever over whether deposing Saddam was a diversion
from the War on Terror, but the proof of its relevance - even
if unexpected - is the unaffordable cost we've forced on
achieved new levels of domestic security without compromising
civil liberties. Frisking granny at the airport may be
silly, but (despite the lies of the Left) Americans continue
to live in unprecedented freedom. The Patriot Act and other
measures worked - without harming the rights of a single
law-abiding citizen. The only people who lost out were the
terrorists and their supporters. We should be applauding
the feds, not running them down.
is much stronger today than we were five years ago. We
have new homeland-security structures up and running, improved
intelligence agencies - and the most experienced military
in the world.
nature of domestic politics and the media's irresponsibility
obscure the fact that no one - not even the terrorists - now
believes that our enemies can win a global victory. The terrorists
are no longer fighting for conquest - they're running a
mean everything's perfect? Of course not. As noted above,
some terrorists will manage to hit us again. But if attempt
No. 500 succeeds, it doesn't mean it wasn't worth stopping
the other 499. Yet, after the next attack, we'll hear no
end of trash-talk about how the War on Terror "failed."
is that we're winning. Hands down. We just can't afford
to revert to yesteryear's weakness and indecision.
we worry about? Plenty. First, the unscrupulous nature of those
in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest
silver lining. They're terror's cheerleaders. Second,
the rabid partisanship infecting our political system - when "getting
Bush" is more important than protecting our country, something's
concern is the Internet's empowerment of fanatics, conspiracy-theorists
and all of the really good haters - on both extremes of the
political spectrum. If there's one thing all responsible
citizens, conservative, centrist or liberal, should agree on,
it's that all extremism is un-American.
On this September
morning, let us dedicate ourselves to living for the values
the hijackers feared: freedom, tolerance, human dignity - and
the invincible strength of our democratic society. The greatest
tribute we can pay to the dead of 9/11 is to be good Americans. CRO
latest book is Never
Quit The Fight.
piece first appeared in the New York Post
copyright 2006 - NY Post