Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Today we remember that September 11th was an attack on America, but it is easy to forget that it was also a barbaric attack on all of human civilization. There were 372 citizens of more than 90 foreign countries among the casualties. A Christian church and a Muslim prayer room were obliterated in the carnage. America suffered the most, but everyone in the world lost something on that day.
In the years since then, much has changed in the world. After years of searching, Osama bin Laden is dead. The Arab Spring has transformed a long-troubled part of the world in ways that will not be fully known for decades--and continues to be felt in the Syrian Civil War. Iraq is now a sovereign nation free from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein--who is also dead.
However, many threats to civilization remain. Somalian pirates continue to wreak havoc on the high seas off the Horn of Africa. Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and interfere with the internal politics of several Arab nations. The mission to prevent Afghanistan from reverting to Taliban rule continues. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, China is building up its military and aggressively pursuing a program of territorial expansion in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
As the most powerful nation in the history of the world, America has a responsibility to lead the community of nations and to preserve peace and international stability. If we fail to do so, September 11th will likely be surpassed as the darkest day in American history by something even more terrible. As we remember the attacks eleven years ago today, we must also remember that much work remains to ensure that the horror and destruction of that day is never repeated.