Eighteen years.

Eighteen years, and no closer to the end.

Some have tried to find the end.  Negotiations with the Taliban have been going on for a long time.

But it takes two sides to make peace.  It only takes one to make war.  And the jihad isn’t over.

If you pay attention, it won’t ever be over.

Dates matter.  Dates have significance.  We in the West like to forget our history, justifying it with platitudes about “moving on” or “getting over the past.”  No one else does, except for Communists like Mao Zedong or Pol Pot, who will slaughter millions to try to wipe out the past and make themselves the sole arbiters of reality.

September 11 had significance before 2001.  It’s why the enemy chose it.

It had been a date of Islamic defeat for a long, long time.  The Great Siege of Malta ended on September 11, 1565.  The Ottomans were driven away from Malta, defeated.  The Battle of Vienna began on September 11, 1683, and ended the next day with the charge of the Winged Hussars on September 12, ending the high tide of Ottoman conquest.

We don’t want to think about it.  It’s become something of a cliche over the years, the slogan written on a white board, “America is not at war.  The US Military is at war.  America is at the mall.”  Even quoting it becomes somewhat cringe-worthy.  It’s become a form of chest-thumping, and many of us weary of it.

But in many ways, it’s true.  We’ve decided, long ago, to forget what happened, to forget the significance of it.

There are still people claiming that it was an inside job.  Despite the immense amounts of cherry-picking they have to do to try to uphold their conspiracy theories.

Has our response been the right one all along?  Of course not.  Only a fool or a sycophant (or someone with a more sinister agenda) would say that it has been.  We have bungled it every step of the way.  We have wasted immense amounts of time, treasure, and blood, with little to nothing to show for it.

And yet, we still can’t get our thinking straight on it.

That there are malicious and incompetent groups active in our own government does not make the jihadi enemy less of an enemy.

And it is an enemy no more cowed today than they were eighteen years ago.

Is there an end in sight?  No.  Nor is there likely to be.

As I wrote in The Devil You Don’t Know, “Permanent solutions are mushroom clouds.”  And even if we had the guts (which we don’t), it wouldn’t be a proportional response.  We can’t wipe them all out, no matter how much some of the less-realistic might wish that we could.

How do you fight an enemy that can’t be nailed down, that gets crushed in one place and then pops up somewhere else under a new name, with new faces and new tactics?

Strategy is a topic for another post, another day.  Suffice it to say, for now, that we have to remember, to be vigilant, to understand that there are people out there who want us dead or enslaved, as a country and a civilization.  Can they accomplish it?  No.  But they can do a hell of a lot of damage and leave a lot of dead bodies behind them in the process anyway, and that’s why ignoring them is criminally negligent.

Remember.  And be vigilant.

9/11 Eighteen Years On

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Since he got out, he's been writing, authoring many articles and 24 books, mostly Action/Adventure and Military Thrillers, with some excursions into Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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