The Bronx Blogger

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

The past few weeks is the first time in a long time that I'm not living in New York City.

It hasn't felt strange -- Bellingham, Washington is a great little city, and my family and I have slipped right into place here -- but this weekend I noticed that I'm really not on the east coast anymore.

We watched the ABC television special, part one, last night about "The Path to 9/11". The show lasted two hours and forty minutes. Immediately after the final scenes they switched over to the local ABC affiliate, "Komo 4", and the news anchor previewed the local newscast that was about to come on. She mentioned a "local 9/11 survivor" who had consented to be interviewed.

She ran a clip from the interview, and introduced the clip by explaining how the man was trapped on the 51rst floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. She mentioned that he was in the tower for over an hour, just until the south tower was attacked as well, and then he escaped.

I noticed her timeline was off, because I knew the south tower was attacked less than a half hour after the north tower. My reaction was, "Wow, how could she say something like that? How could she not know?" And I soon realized that perhaps she wasn't such an unusual person in her ignorance.

I remembered that at 8:45 am New York time, when the first plane hit, it was only 5:45 am Washington time. By the time the twin towers had both collapsed, a lot of people in Washington were still just starting their morning routines. When you also consider that 9/11 survivors are not such a queer animal back in New York, you can see how attitudes and just the simple impact of the attacks on people's consciousness might be very, very different out here than back in New York.

For a long time after the jihadi attacks, I had a hard time looking at the skyline in New York from various angles and not noticing that the WTC is no longer standing there where it used to be. It always registered for a couple of years in my brain that there was an empty space. But now I feel a mildly raw numbness in my mind in that part of my mental map of New York City where the WTC used to be, and I no longer actively think about the gap in the skyline every time I see it. I think a lot more about Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran nowadays than I think about the September 11th attacks and the WTC and the damaged Pentagon.

Steven Den Beste (see this post for some background) has a post up today at the "Chicago Boyz" group weblog. He titles the piece "The Disunited States of America". It's a good summary of what the impact of the jihadi war has been on the U.S.

The U.S. didn't pay a lot of attention to Islamist terrorists before September 2001. Since the jihadis are attention-seeking murderers, a policy of just trying to keep a lid on them seemed like a logical, even reasonable response. We didn't want to feed the martyr-wish of the fanatical foot-soldiers, or play the role in their script that was allotted to the Great Satan.

Even if some people wanted to ruthlessly attack the terrorists and their sponsors, the U.S. political leadership had not tried very hard to mobilize the country. President Clinton didn't even do much to make the country pay attention. When the jihadis bombed the WTC with a rental van back in 1993, his decision not to visit Ground Zero seems to have been part of a broader decision to keep up a public display of business-as-usual. Yet without some kind of mobilization, there wasn't a lot we could do beyond intelligence work, manhunts, and criminal prosecution.

If the strategy of containment-but-not-engagement had not been truly discredited in the years and decades leading up to 9/11/01, it certainly lost most of its remaining credibility afterwards. The jihadis were not going to go away unless we were going to make them.

Five years later, I'm optimistic that we are doing a good job in fighting the Islamo-fascists. The widespread, although mostly passive, opposition among Americans to our soldiers' fighting in Iraq may have emboldened the Iranians to challenge us and our allies. But if that is the worst thing that happens in the War on Islamic Terror, then we are probably in pretty good shape.

In any case, we can only do the best we can and adapt to whatever the enemy throws at us. We seem to have the strength, the raw resources to handle most any problem. We just need to be brave, to figure out the right things to do, and then have the confidence that we're doing the right thing.

Update: Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian who has written a lot of commentary about the War on Islamic Terror. He recently wrote a post about the need to have confidence in the correctness of our fight: "The Will of the President".

Read more!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Iraqi Prime Minister Criticizes U.S. Raid in Baghdad

Here's a story with a pessimistic spin on the progress of our security efforts in Baghdad:

Chances dim for peace in Baghdad

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, is apparently being torn between pacifying the Mahdi army, which is the Shiite militia of Moqtada Al-Sadr, and leaving Al-Sadr alone. Al-Sadr is a very important member of the ruling coalition that chose Al-Maliki to be prime minister.

The United States is in a complicated battle with Iran and its proxies. It may get much, much worse before it gets any better, and not just in Iraq and Israel.

Even if we follow the best strategy and make the best tactical choices all along the way, the cost and the pain of the resulting events are likely to be high. Only time will tell how many sacrifices we will have to make and how many people will suffer.

Read more!

The Bronx Blogger Has Moved

The Bronx Blogger has relocated from the Bronx.

My family and I are now living near the city of Bellingham in the state of Washington. It's very nice out here, just as nice as the Bronx. Bellingham doesn't have a network of subway trains like the Bronx does, but it does have a network of very green parks along some creeks that lead into Bellingham Bay.

It's also very different in some other ways as well -- here's some information on the area: and the website of the city of Bellingham.

Read more!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Has the tide turned in Iraq?

"Post-al-Zarqawi Raids Kill 104 Insurgents"

"The Beginning of the End?"

"Papers Show 'Gloomy' State of Insurgency"

I was directed to the third item by the website Refdesk.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

President Bush Visits Prime Minister Al-Maliki -- In Baghdad!

The Washington Post online has the following story up:

"Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq".

I think President Bush is a person who enjoys being president.

I was directed to this story by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.

Read more!

Friday, June 09, 2006

What's next for Iraq?

Today's Washington Post features a special guest writer, Nouri al-Maliki.

Mr. Al-Maliki is the prime minister of Iraq. He represents the new government of national unity that was forged over many months of very intense negotiations among the various parties and factions in the new Iraqi parliament.

Here is Prime Minister Al-Maliki's piece for the Washington Post:

Our Strategy for a Democratic Iraq

Prime Minister Al-Maliki lays out an encouraging plan for securing Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. He also outlines proposals for tackling the other major problems facing Iraq, such as extensive government corruption.

Best wishes to you, sir, and all the brave Iraqis who are trying to reconstruct the country. The United States will help you achieve the success you deserve.

Read more!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Civil War in Iraq

Michael Yon talks about civil war in Iraq:

"Of Words"

Mr. Yon has a very informed view about what is going on in Iraq. His opinion about whether or not Iraq is in the throes of civil war is nuanced and interesting.

Anyone who feels confused about Iraq and what we should be doing there should read the whole thing.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bronx Blogger Talks About Religion

I've been having several lengthy and involved discussions over at "The Evangelical Outpost".

We've been talking about all sorts of things: the war in Iraq, the failings of the public school system, Darwin's evolution versus Intelligent Design theory, and so on.

Quite often the post starts out with some religious or theological point that Joe Carter, the site proprietor, wishes to discuss. But even when the post doesn't start out that way, the moral and social issues that lie underneath some of the more political issues often steer the conversations in the comment threads back towards religion and belief in God.

I've often made the point over at the E.O. (Evangelical Outpost) that it is much more important that a person have good character and that a person behave charitably towards other people, than whether or not a person is a particular kind of Christian (or Jew or Muslim). It's even much more important than whether or not a person believes in God (after all, that's what She would think is important if She existed).

To me, this is pretty obvious, just common sense. Growing up and living in New York, I've been exposed to folks from all over the planet and from every walk of life. I know that God has bigger fish to fry than whether or not you or I or Joe Carter gives Her proper deference, or even believes in Her at all.

That said, I respect where Joe and everybody else is coming from. After all, freedom brings great responsibility, and people who have liberated themselves from traditional religious beliefs often seem to mess up the "great responsibility" part of their lives. Religious folks like Joe are just trying to encourage everyone to live life in a good way, in the best way possible.

I salute that, and I wish him great success. And I hope he can keep focused enough on what's truly important so that he can keep all his priorities straight. It's a challenge for all of us, myself included.

Peace out, word.

Read more!