Tuesday 25 September 2018

9/11 showed US power of unity when facing its many challenges

Almost two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Photo: Getty
Almost two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Photo: Getty

Michael J Morell

Almost two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but the sign on the wall as you walk into the CIA's Mission Centre for Counterterrorism still reads, "Today is September 12, 2001."

Almost two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but the sign on the wall as you walk into the CIA's Mission Centre for Counterterrorism still reads, "Today is September 12, 2001."

The sign represents the sense of urgency that the officers who work there still bring to the job of protecting the United States, every day, from terrorism. The effort has been a remarkable success, considering that extremist terrorists have repeatedly attempted to attack the US homeland.

International terrorism is by no means abolished; vigilance is still required. But America is much safer today than it was before 9/11, in no small part because people put their political differences aside in the interest of national security.

That solidarity has been shaken by rising political polarisation in recent years - a dangerous development because, today, the United States faces staggering global security challenges. National unity is essential as the United States responds to myriad threats, including Russia's attempts to weaken it at home and abroad, Iran's military adventurism and support for terrorism, and North Korea's continuing nuclear threat.

Beyond wanting to restore its place as Asia's dominant nation, China is seeking to become the most powerful and influential country in the world. Moreover, its economic success is allowing its authoritarian political system and mixed economic system to become a model for other countries. For the first time in decades, there is a worldwide debate about the best form of government and economic system.

China's People's Liberation Army is on a path to becoming a military power stronger than any the United States has encountered since the days of the Soviet Union. Beijing knows that any contest in Asia between China and an adversary, including the United States, would first be a naval- and air-combat engagement, and the Chinese have prepared accordingly, developing sophisticated capabilities at sea, in the air - and even in space. Beyond its growing military, China makes a particularly challenging adversary because it deploys legitimate economic and diplomatic tactics, such as free-trade agreements and development assistance, and illegitimate ones, such as intellectual property theft, economic coercion and the seizure of contested islands in the South China Sea. The US hasn't yet found a long-term strategy. But the status quo is not an option because, every day, China grows in confidence that it can go its own way. (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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