Barbara Amiel is someone I frequently find disagreements with but when she is right, boy, is she right. Whilst I am usually rather prone to point the finger of blame at the state as the font of all evils when things go wrong, Amiel makes the reasonable point that even with the best intelligence in the world, the prevailing zeitgeist in the United State (and elsewhere) on and before September 10th 2001 meant that there was very little support for anything which could really have stopped Al Qaeda’s infamous arrival onto the world’s front pages.
The question is not whether Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush actually knew about the murderous intentions of radical Islam or whether they took what they knew seriously, but what the public mood would have let them do about it before 9/11.
Not much, I wager. What administration could, before 9/11, have sent in American boys to fight a regime in Afghanistan because it was implementing the ideas of an old man with a long white beard, sitting crossed-legged in the mountains talking about Satan America? Had I been in Congress before 9/11, knowing everything that was knowable about the Islamists, I still doubt if I would have voted to send troops to the Hindu Kush to topple the Taliban. Eardrums would have exploded all over Capital Hill from outcries of racism and imperialism if there had been serious efforts, pre-9/11, to round up suspected Muslim militants in the United States and tighten security on Muslims entering the country. As it is, the post-9/11 sensitivity to racial profiling makes travel hazardous for white grannies who dislike body-searches.
All too true. Read the whole article.