It has been said that time heals all wounds. Some wounds, however, are so deep and so severe that life will never be the same. Clearly, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, fit into that category, having changed our world drastically.
Eastern New Mexico joined the rest of America this weekend in commemorating the horrors of three years ago.
The impact of the incredible event — a coordinated hijacking of four airplanes and steering them into buildings that led to 3,000 deaths — remains fresh in our minds.
We can all remember clearly where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the airliners slamming in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. And tears still flow when we look back.
But we can’t let our grief become the focus of 9/11.
A veteran CIA anti-terrorist analyst wrote about sentimental remembrance in his book “Imperial Hubris.”
“Purportedly sorrowful commemorations of the dead, these endless well-planned and -scripted effusions of grief, international contests for memorial designs and most of all, rivers of stilted, never-forget oratory,” he wrote, “serve no purpose save to recall our utter defeat and allow us to wallow in dread of the pain to come.”
The terrorist attacks served notice that a cruel and relentless set of enemies desire to do damage to the United States. It should also be noted that they represented a massive failure by the government agencies sworn to protect us and a defeat (one may hope only temporary) for the free American way of life.
Since those attacks no government agency leader has been fired. Failure was rewarded with larger budgets.
And instead of undertaking a pinpoint yet relentless counterattack on those who actually planned the attack, the government has frittered away resources and credibility in a war against a country that was not involved in the attack. That war seems likely to continue for years, diverting precious attention and resources from the stateless terrorists who may well be planning the next attack even now.
Those are sobering thoughts, but three years later, Americans should be ready — must be ready — for a dose of realism.
Realism is essential in the task of remaking intelligence gathering, its leadership and its execution, essential to understanding the uneasy relationship between liberty and security and the public policies that mediate the two.
It was not an abstraction called “terrorism” that attacked America but a specific group of terrorists.
Instead of engaging in a vague crusade to reshape the world, it’s time to renew America’s resolve to bring justice to those who inflicted damage on us.