August 06, 2003

Triumphalism in the Air? I'm

Triumphalism in the Air?

I'm increasingly detecting whiffs of triumphalism in the air in relation to the war on terror. They make me a bit queasy.

Trust me, I've got a sense of humor. But comments like these remind me of the old Nietzsche aphorism that a joke is an epigram on the death of a feeling. (Both links via Instapundit).

The feeling that is being killed is what we all felt on 9/11. Of course, it's natural for it to dissipate as the years go by. And like some have speculated, perhaps 9/11 was a singular (though still epoch-making event) that won't ever be replicated to such devastating scale.

Why? For one, there was certainly an asleep at the switch quality to the 90's. Most people were too busy trying to get in on the latest tech sector IPO to bother about bombings of embassies in distant African lands or U.S. ships off the Yemeni coast. We're all much more vigilant now (though that vigilance may be slipping a bit, partly as a result of these manifestations of triumphalism).

And maybe that was al-Qaeda's A-team hijacking those four planes that day and the group can't field similarly sophisticated, Westernized operatives in requisite numbers at this juncture to pull off such a complex operation.

But I doubt it. That's one of the key reasons I remain in favor of the decision to go to war in Iraq (and still believe we will unearth significant evidence of WMD programs and/or materiel). The intersection of transnational terror groups, states with links (even remote, disparate ones) to terror groups, and WMD indicated to me that some unconventional attack on a major metropolis was only a matter of time.

I still feel that way. And let's not forget that 9/11, even for people unborn at the time, continues to have effects today.

So keep the champagne stowed away for now. It's not time for joyous self-congratulation and jocular allusions to plane hijackings being old hat. Terror groups might not be planning "just" another plane sequel to 9/11. They could be planning something far worse. If 9/11 thought us anything-- it's to expect the unexpected.

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