THE LONDON AIRPLANE PLOT WOULD HAVE WORKED
author, The One Percent Doctrine
Would we be as vigilant if there hadn’t been a 9/11, vigilant enough to have found and foiled the London plot? Probably not. There’s a fair to good chance that there would be ten planes blowing up over the continental U.S. As for Iraq, the Bush administration’s intention from the very start was not whether to overthrow Saddam, but how. Certainly the administration was focused on setting new rules of the geopolitical game as the world’s sole superpower. The view was that Saddam Hussein could be made an example of, that he was an easy mark, and that that would shape global behavior and send a signal to anyone with the temerity to challenge us. We might be in Iraq even without 9/11. Meanwhile, the growth and violent intentions of Islamic fundamentalism would have reared their heads sometime in this period, whether last week or earlier. In the eyes of the violent jihadist community, maybe 9/11 is akin to the U.S. hockey team winning the ’80 Olympics: “Oh, my goodness! I can’t believe how many breaks we got to have a moment like this!” Or, maybe, it’s like the early days of Microsoft—a few people with a powerful, disruptive idea. Bin Laden is as much an ideology as an individual at this point. And Al Qaeda can be patient, deliberative. Their surviving, along with their ideology, is a kind of victory. It grows on its own, with the exercise of U.S. power often acting like sunlight and water.