Part of the difference of opinion in this national "dialogue" we have been having regarding terrorism and 9-11 is a core disagreement over the enemy. Many see 9-11 as solely an act by a distinct group going by the name of Al Qaeda. If you restrict your analysis solely to Al Qaeda as the enemy, then bringing Bin Laden to justice would be your focus. Any other forays against a Saddam, Sadr or Hezbollah are a distraction.
I believe world events before and since 9-11 show that the Islamic terrorists are more like the Mafia with a common goal to destroy the West (and specifically the US and Israel) while creating an Islamic caliphate. The view is world-wide borne of an inferiority complex. The former view makes the battle more defensive in nature and akin to police work. My view sees many fronts of interwoven alliances where differing levels of aggression or strategies are needed.
In this very long Symposium on Frontpage.com Jamie Glazov interviews Tom McInerney, Andy McCarthy, Jed Babbin and, one of my favorites, Ralph Peters on 9/11: Five Years Later.
Glazov asks:[H]ave we, after five years, deciphered exactly who our enemy is? Surely it was not al Qaeda alone that attacked us on 9/11, but a force that can, arguably, be legitimately labelled as Islamo-Fascism. If we can agree that this ideology is our enemy, what is it that we need to do to defeat it?
Peters' answer is realistically positive:I've been privileged to spend a good bit of time not only in the greater Middle East, but, over the past half-dozen years, on the far fringes of the Islamic world. Religions--all religions--as practiced on earth are what men and women make them. At least for now, our problem is with the stagnant, suffocating forms of Islam practiced from North Africa through Pakistan. Elsewhere, I've found Muslims remarkably tolerant and spiritually healthy--faiths change on their frontiers. We only hear about the handful of terrorists and extremists in Indonesia, for example. But, outside of Aceh and a few urban neighborhoods, Indonesian forms--plural--of Islam are humane and absorptive (if sometimes downright weird). In Senegal, Muslims have resisted Wahhabi missionary efforts and want no part of Bedouin Islam. I found the Senegalese startlingly pro-American (and increasingly disenchanted with the French). I believe, firmly, that the long-overdue liberal reformation in Islam is coming--in Michigan or Ontario.
My point: Blanket condemnations of Islam are stupid and counter-productive.
But then he is realistically pessimistic, not about the US's future but, about Israel's future:[Israel] may not have one. Europe couldn't care less if Tel Aviv and Haifa disappear under mushroom clouds. Israel's remarkable success is as embarrassing to Europeans as it is to Arabs. Israel's only meaningful allies are in the English-speaking world.
Read the whole interview.
Equally limited and legalistic was an opinion voiced to me recently that Israel's response to Hezbollah was at least over a border intrusion versus the US war with Iraq that had no border or other seeming provocation.
First, borders today are relatively meaningless when missiles, hijacking of international flights and attacks upon embassises and US military units outside of the US territory are concerned. While we used to use the concept of "the water's edge" to denote a natural defensive border, today there are no such things.
Second, ham-stringing us to merely countering the acts of terrorist monsters means we must await some horrendous act. Then we may respond? And responses engender more second-guessing. What we have seen in the media reports about Israel's response to Hezbollah, that the defensive response must also be "proportionate", is ludicrous. That term's meaning is fraught with semantic license I choose to avoid for the sake of self-preservation. Leave the semantics to those living in the theoretical world. My family and friends live in the real world.