20 Years after 9/11 -- Are We Better Off?
When the hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that first 9/11, the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary for al-Qaida.
Today, the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary to al-Qaida. What then did our longest war accomplish?
The Afghan army and government we stood up and sustained for decades has collapsed. The U.S. military has withdrawn. U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans who fought alongside us have been left behind.
The triumphant Taliban of today are far stronger than were the Taliban of 2001 who fled at the approach of the Northern Alliance. Al-Qaida is now present in many more countries than it was when we first launched the Global War on Terror.
Nor is the America of 2021 the hubristic self-confident country of George W. Bush and the neocons who were going to convert the Middle East into something like our Middle West and advance from there "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
Our country is a changed place from 2001. Gone are the unity, confidence and resolution. And how have all our interventions gone?
Call the roll.
Afghanistan is a lost cause, receding anew into the darkness.
There are reports the Chinese may be interested in establishing a residence at Bagram Air Force Base.
Saddam Hussein is long gone. But the Iraq we invaded to strip of weapons of mass destruction it did not have is now dominated by Iranian-backed Shiite militia. Only at the sufferance of the Baghdad regime are 2,500 "non-combat" U.S. troops permitted to hang on.