So much has happened since that horrid day in 2001. Most of us, well, some of us, at least, can't forget the thousands killed on that day by the Religion of Peace, nor the thousands more who have died in the ensuing battles of what is a 1400 year long war waged against us by the Religion of Peace.
Prior to that day, the West had grown complacent. The Cold War had ended in a whimper; the Soviets and their Evil Empire had melted like the wicked witch in Wizard of Oz. No mushroom clouds required; no duck and cover exercises needed. The West had triumphed over the Bloc. We had prominent professors telling us we had reached the End of History, and, of course, those Soviets weren't really Marxists, after all. The great international ideological battles had ended. Besides, who would attack us? Especially, who would attack the USA? Who would dare? Why? How?
Sure we saw acts of terror overseas, yes, in that mythical, dirty, and dangerous place called overseas--the place where those odd foreigners live. Sure, some embassies had been attacked, but what do embassies really do? How does that affect life here? So-called "terror" was a matter for law enforcement, UN resolutions, and the Israelis to handle. We would focus on issues of trade, drugs, climate change, people smuggling, gender equality, gay rights, and seeing movies that make fun of Serbs and other Slavs, but mostly we would party hearty. War with Islam? How Crusader of you!
Wrong. All wrong.
The days immediately after 9/11/2001 were of shock and horror. We had been attacked in our largest city and in our capital not by Russian or Chinese missiles, not by some Hollywoodian Serbian master criminals, but by a bunch of wealthy Saudi students living it up in our midst. Armed with box cutters, an Islamic death wish, and obeying orders from a rich scrofulous Saudi expat living in a dirty Afghan hut, they killed thousands of us here at home by hijacking civilian aircraft and smashing them into buildings. More dead than at Pearl Harbor. Not over there. Not in some horrid foreign place. Right here in America. And, gosh, we had treated these boys so well, too, even had Muslim prayer rooms in the airport and halal food on board . . . they couldn't have been real Muslims, right? We must have done something wrong . . .
While the progressives and their enablers wrung their hands and looked for the causes of Muslim anger, ordinary folks--American, British, Australian, Canadian, and others around the world--went to war. I can tell you as somebody serving overseas at the time as Charge of a US Embassy, there was an electric current running through the air. The Bush people spoke loudly and clearly and laid down one of the great foreign policy lines of our time: "We appreciate your expressions of sympathy and condolences, but now you are either with us or against us." Captained by a furious United States President with blood in his eye, the Western allies moved at record speed and with overwhelmingly lethal force. At home, everybody it seemed was flying the flag; the military recruitment centers were overwhelmed with volunteers. Those were heady days to be an diplomat in the hard countries. Foreign officials listened very intently to what you said; those not particularly well-disposed to us knew that the American diplomat standing in front of them represented a President who had and would pull the trigger. Not many wanted to risk being seen as "against us." The Al Qaeda gang and their Taliban backers never knew what hit them. In weeks they were dead, or on the run.
Not long after, the reprehensible and murderous Saddam--who had sought and used WMD--joined the AQ criminals on the run. He was eventually dug out of a spider hole and sent to trial and the gallows for his many acts of brutality. Libya's transgender Queen of the Desert, too, got the message and notified us that he/she no longer had an interest in developing nukes and surrendered his/her whole program to us. In addition, his/her people helped us round up AQ goons all over the world--I know; I worked with them.
The West, and the USA, in particular, seemed to have an unassailable position of strength. Alas, that was not to last. Even at this moment of victory, the seeds of defeat had begun to germinate.