I learned about the 9/11 attack a little later than most people. I worked second shift and usually got up around 10:30.
When the clock radio came on the announcer wasn't making much sense to a brain that wasn't completely awake. He was saying something about the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney with the word "unprecedented" being mentioned. I thought at first that something had happened to Cheney.
I went into the living room and turned on the television to one of the news channels. With the frequent replays of the morning's events it took some time for me to determine what had already happened and what was happening at that time.
I was glad that ABC New Commentator Paul Harvey had returned to work by 9/11. He had been off for an extended period due to a throat problem, but had returned in August. Harvey had a positive attitude and frequently reminded his listeners that whatever the situation was it wasn't as bad as it seemed. He recognized that emphasizing the negative made the situation seem worse than it was.
I wasn't surprised that something like the 9/11 attack had happened. I wasn't expecting anything of that scale, but I was expecting more terrorist attacks such as those that had been happening against American interests elsewhere in the world
The media had been reporting lapses in airline security for some time, so I wasn't surprised that terrorists might hijack airplanes. There had been movies about terrorists using aircraft in this manner. I wouldn't have expected President George W. Bush to anticipate such a possibility but the people at the FBI and the CIA should have.
U.S. support for the tyrant known as the Shah of Iran had led to an attack on the American embassy in Tehran after the Iranian people overthrew him.
After I learned the identities of the suspected hijackers I realized I was right that the decision to base American forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War was a very bad idea. Western nations, including the U.S., have been pushing around Middle Eastern countries for too long.
The basing of American forces in what Muslims regard as their Holy Land may have been enough to push some Saudis over the edge and provoke them to commit suicide by flying planes into various American buildings. The U.S. had ignored the significance of a previous attack on American forces in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government might have welcomed American bases to protect them from Iraq, but may of their citizens viewed the bases as the home of an foreign occupation force.
American leaders often seem ignorant of the fact that members of other cultures sometimes view the world and military conflicts differently from Americans. The failure to recognize this difference in viewpoint hampered the U.S. war effort in Vietnam.
I learned from one of the recent broadcast 9/11 related documentaries that Osama bin Laden had wanted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan because he believed the U.S. would lose. Bin Laden may not have contemplated a traditional military victory. Instead of a traditional victory he may have been thinking in terms of dragging out the fighting until Americans got tired of the battles and left like they did in Vietnam.
North Vietnam never won a major battle in Vietnam until two years after American forces left. The Tet offensive was not a communist victory because they couldn't keep any places they took and much of the Viet Cong was destroyed. When the U.S. left Vietnam its allies were in charge of the government that controlled South Vietnam which was the American goal in Vietnam. However, the American media had previously decided the war was lost because it lasted so long.
Bin Laden may have been hoping for a similar outcome. Dragging out the fighting until Americans decided they couldn't "win" would allow him, or his successors, to claim they had defeated the "Great Satan" and use the "victory" as a recruiting tool.
The 9/11 attack was the start of a war that is continuing. We cannot afford to abandon the war effort just because the war appears to be endless. Americans often mistakenly claim that the Vietnam War was the nation's longest war. Actually Vietnam was merely a conflict within the long running Cold War, as was the Korean War. America stood firm in the Cold War and eventually the enemy quit.
We must continue to stand up to the terrorists because if we don't take the war to them, they may bring the war back to us. One of the reasons the terrorists haven't launched another major attack on the U.S. is because they are busy fighting our army.