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9/11: 13 years and nothing to show for it

By Cody Franklin, Opinion Editor

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I find the term “Never Forget” to be painfully ironic. I know the phrase is out of the best intentions, but over the years is has took on a new meaning.

In the earlier days, 9/11 was seen as a stand alone event, a disaster which prompted a response. Today, however, it is looked back as the opening shot of a long and disastrous campaign. This is the true tragedy of 9/11. 

Imagine after Pearl Harbor was attacked. There was no quick American victory. Instead of a 4-year war, it took a decade for America to even come close to stopping Japan. Sure, those who planned the attack were killed or captured, but in death they inspired thousands of others to avenge them. The U.S. controls territory, but not the people. There is no treaty; there is no resolution. And every year new Japanese forces kept popping up across the Pacific.

This is the War on Terror. This is all the War on Terror will be.

9/11 was a devastating and horrendous attack on the United States homeland. But it was not an attack by a nation; it was a terrorist attack. In reaction to this, we used a World War II mentality to deal with criminals, and the response instantly doomed us.

Our first problem was declaring a “War on Terror.” Remember Bush’s infamous speech saying those not with us are against us? You cannot declare a war on something which is already so general. What is terrorism? What is the recommended amount of terror defeated in which we can declare victory? How would we destroy not an idea, but an action? The act of terror has said so much already. The same way robbery is an action. You cannot declare a “War on Robbery.”

By doing this, we already set ourselves up for failure, which brought us into conflict with the Taliban. We did not need to fight the Taliban. Yes, they were harboring al-Qaeda, but we could have defeated al-Qaeda without their permission. We would have used a 21st century solution to a 21st century problem. Instead, the U.S. had a Pearl Harbor flashback, and instead of invading Japanese Empire, it got stuck in the mud of Afghanistan.

I’m not even going to talk about Iraq. That is self explanatory in itself.

On September 10th, President Obama expanded the conflict into Syria. He announced the U.S. will bomb ISIS targets and arm moderate Syrian rebels. This was the final nail in the coffin for me. The War on Terror will not end anytime soon, if at all. We created this problem, and while I believe ISIS is a threat, I also believe this war has failed.

So even if ISIS is defeated, and al-Qeada is crushed, the war will not end in a U.S. victory. It can’t end in a U.S. victory. Afghanistan and Iraq were already ruined countries to begin with, and are deteriorating every day. Our success is not determined by bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice. We succeed if two unrelated nations don’t collapse in on themselves. That is the absolute best case victory for this 13-year long war.

This brings me back to “Never Forget.” We can never forget, but not because of the disaster. We can’t forget because we are still going through the tragedy every single day. We’re still at war. For lack of a better analogy, the Japanese Empire is still alive and kicking and we only just rebuilt Pearl Harbor.

Next year, as every anniversary before, we’ll check back to see our progress. Never forget.

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