Preventing 9/11: “A Failure of Imagination”?

by | Jul 27, 2004

Contrary to the claim by the 9/11 commission chairman, the failure to prevent 9/11 was not “a failure of imagination.” It was a failure of cognition. For decades prior to 9/11, terrorist attacks against Americans were perpetrated without any noticeable response from the U.S. government. The first attack on the World Trade Center, for example, […]

Contrary to the claim by the 9/11 commission chairman, the failure to prevent 9/11 was not “a failure of imagination.” It was a failure of cognition.

For decades prior to 9/11, terrorist attacks against Americans were perpetrated without any noticeable response from the U.S. government. The first attack on the World Trade Center, for example, occurred back in 1993–and it was dealt with as a mere criminal matter.

More recently, in 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States and publicly called for the indiscriminate murder of Americans all over the world as a religious duty. A few months later Al Qaeda destroyed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The United States did not respond to any of these threats and assaults.

The reason that the United States was taken by surprise was not a lack of imagination, but a lack of honesty in facing the facts–and a lack of courage to act against these obvious threats.

As the commission itself reported, “The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise.”

***

As the 9/11 commission’s final report made clear, both the Clinton and Bush administrations were at fault for not striking at Al Qaeda before September 11. While leftists hypocritically have blamed Bush, conservatives retroactively blamed Clinton. Yet both camps are repeating the mistakes of the past and still trying the diplomatic approach in dealing with terrorist states.

Today there is no doubt about the threat to America posed by Iran, Syria and North Korea, among others. But almost no one is calling for an attack on any of these regimes. Hopefully, America will not wait for a more horrific version of 9/11 before striking at its avowed enemies. Hopefully, but–at this rate–not likely.

David Holcberg, a former civil engineer and businessman, is now a writer living in Southern California. He is a former writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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