WASHINGTON: My son was seven months old on Sept. 11, 2001 when those bastards flew the three planes into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, and those brave folks fought back against the bastards on United Flight 93, thought to be headed for the White House.
Today, my son is 14 years old. Osama bin Laden is dead, as are a whole passel of his Al Qaeda followers. ISIL has exploded, rending Syria and much of Iraq. Yemen is, as usual, falling to pieces. Lebanon desperately tries to maintain its cohesion. Turkey is using its war against ISIL to hammer the vibrant Kurds, whom it appears to have decided to try and crush, again, even though they are leading the fight against ISIL.
Finally, of course, there are the tens of thousands of Syrians flooding into a Europe that often doesn’t seem to remember the chaos of the post-war years, when millions of what we then called displaced persons fled the grey, grim Soviet forces or were released from concentration camps as the Nazi regime crumbled.
There are some rays of hope. If, as the Intelligence Community and President Obama pledge, the Iran nuclear deal forestalls Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons, that may lead to quietly improved relations between the US and Iran, helping reduce a major cause of global uncertainty. But little is likely to come of this for the first two or three years while each side tests the other. Perhaps, with their new king, the Saudis will shoulder more of their own responsibility for what happens in the region and act, instead of simply poring money into old wounds and complaining that we don’t do enough.
Meanwhile, senior Intelligence Community officials believe Syria may splinter under pressure from Basher al Assad, ISIL, al Nusra, the Kurds and the allied coalition. That’s what Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said yesterday at the annual INSA-AFCEA Intelligence and National Security Summit.
We can trace much of this current storm und drang in the Middle East all the way back to bin Laden’s evil plan to strike America 14 years ago. But the acts of evil men often lead to surprising results. Without Hitler and Tojo, would the United States have become the world’s greatest power? Would colonies have freed themselves wholesale from weakened European powers? Would Israel have been born as a country? Let’s hope we can turn the rotten deeds of ISIL — mass murder and rape, beheadings, the destruction of some of humanity’s greatest treasures — to good purpose.