To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the New York Times published ten op-eds explaining what the US can do to ensure that such an attack doesn’t occur again. Much thought was clearly put into each of these astounding answers, and it must have been extremely difficult for the Times to choose only ten from what must surely have been an extraordinarily broad range of inspiring solutions from the American intelligentsia. Here are the ten suggested ways to prevent the next terrorist attack against the United States:
Solution #1: “Giving Muslims Hope”
We must give Muslims “hope” by preventing them from gaining a nuclear deterrent to a nuclear-armed Israel, whose not-so-secret nuclear program we must protect at all costs from international scrutiny. We must give them “hope” by being a “source of opportunity”–especially important since “Too many young Muslims are without jobs or hope, are angry with their governments, and don’t like the war in Iraq or American foreign policy”, the latter of which helps to ensure that many young Muslims are without jobs or hope (the Occupied Territories and Iraq, for instance) and that they remain angry with their governments (Saudi Arabia and Iraq, for instance). Perhaps most importantly, we must give them “hope” by engaging in “vigorous public diplomacy”. See, we must give Muslims hope not by altering out foreign policy, but by working harder to convince Muslims that our policies are truly benign and that we have nothing but the best of intentions for them, their nations, and their resources.
Solution #2: Accept that “We Can’t Kill an Ideology”
Al Qaeda is “dangerous” and “many” Muslims “agree with Al Qaeda that the Western-imposed political order is the source of their political and economic woes.” We can’t alter that perception of the acknowledged “Western-imposed political order” or alter that order itself, but we can, at the very least, “acknowledge that their grievances are legitimate” and then discard them to continue imposing our “political order”.
Solution #3: Recognize “How War Can Bring Peace”
We are to accept the assumption that “Offensive action abroad has protected the homeland” and reject the alternative hypothesis that aggression and violence only “feeds resentment and spawns more terrorism”, because doing absolutely nothing “can inspire contempt”; and those, either to commit aggression and risk feeding resentment and spawning more terrorism or to succumb like cowards to “passivity and defensiveness”, are our only choices. Since this is the case, the correct path to “peace” is obvious.
Solution #4: “Walking the Terror Beat”:
We should continue cooperating closely with foreign intelligence services, such as Pakistan’s ISI (“coordinated efforts have led to the capture of key Qaeda operatives including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed”), which supported the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan (with CIA funding) from whence came Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which was the Taliban’s biggest benefactor right up until after the 9/11 attacks (and, in many respects, well into the “war on terrorism”), which has close ties with militants responsible for terrorism in Kashmir and India, and whose former head of intelligence, Mahmoud Ahmed, reportedly authorized the transfer of $100,000 to 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta (Press Trust of India, Times of India, Dawn [Pakistan], Agence France Presse, Opinion Journal) . Working closely with foreign agencies such as this, we can “prevent the next attack in the United States”.
Solution #5: Embraicing “The President’s Plan”.
We must embrace “The Presiden’ts Plan” to “fight terrorism”.
Solution #6: “Don’t Forget Our Values”
After 9/11, “Even in Arab and Muslim countries”, there was enormous sympathy and “feelings of solidarity with America”. Al Qaeda “seemed to be losing its battle with America”, but “that changed when America invaded Iraq.” We must never cease to remind ourselves that “We fight for our values: for our freedom, for democracy, for the rule of law, the equality of all human beings and for peace.” Although our intentions are always benevolent, “Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the situation in Iraq” can “hardly be called successes”. These failures were aberrations, the result of our straying momentarily from the path of righteousness, and evidence of our occasional temporary failure to adhere strictly “to the values of our democratic societies”.
Solution #7: Recognize “What Really Scares Us”
Another 9/11-type attack “hasn’t been necessary” because “the last one is still doing the trick”: Americans are still living under fear, “terrorized not by the actual explosion” of a terrorist attack, “but by our apprehension” of any potential future attacks. To anticipate how the terrorists will attack us next, “we must know the terrorists”, which means “maximization of intelligence”. Examining the root causes of terrorism is not a concern, and how we use that intelligence remains an open question.
Solution #8: Use “Less Political Correctness”
America has not been attacked since 9/11 because it is not only a war against the United States, “but against everyone who does not conform” to the “beliefs and way of life” of the terrorists. Thus, we have witnessed terrorist atrocities in “Madrid, London, Bali, Moscow, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and India”. In this “struggle imposed on us” we “must be less politically correct” and look “for risks where they are most likely to be found”. Racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims, then, is the answer to ensuring that any future terrorist attack is prevented.
Solution #9: Recognize that “Qaeda Set the Bar High”
We really can’t prevent another terrorist attack, and must accept the inevitability of the next one. Sure, we haven’t been attacked again, but that’s only because terrorists “are committed to carrying out spectacular attacks that maximize death, injury, economic damage and political symoblism” and “the more spectacular the plot, the longer it takes to plan”. We can be sure, therefore, that an even worse attack than the ones that occurred on 9/11 are in the works. For evidence, “One need look no further than the recently foiled London jetliner plot.” If not for the efforts of British counter-terrorism agencies, we must assume, the plot “would very likely have succeeded.” Although we won’t see numerous small attacks, we must accept that another terrorist attack is inevitable and that it is “likely to be giant in scale”.
Solution #10: “Keep American Muslims on Our Side”
Since launching the war on terrorism, “terrorism has increased significantly around the globe”. The US “has been spared” because we have “Increased awareness and surveillance” and because “few of America’s Muslims at least for now subscribe to the notion that Western governments or their proxies are deliberately hurting and humiliating Muslims”. According to an Al Qaeda training manual, “the success of the movement will ultimately depend” upon its “ability to damage America’s prestige throughout the globe, sow discord between America and its allies and expose the hollowness of American values”, which might explain why they’ve chosen not to attack us, but rather to sit back and let us take care of all of that for them on our own. Al Qaeda’s intent is to provoke the US “into direct military confrontation with a Muslim country”, such as when the US “attacked Iraq” and “inadvertently” assisted Al Qaeda to achieve its goals “just as Osama bin Laden’s strategists had hoped.” The US shouldn’t make such a “mistake” again.