The homeland security year

One is the Islamist, jihadist revolution that seared itself on the American consciousness on Sept. 11, 2001.
The other is the democratic counter-revolution launched by the United States in the immediate wake of the attacks.
The victory of either of these revolutions will determine the state of the world for the rest of the 21st century and probably beyond.
The year from September 2004 to September 2005—what we’re terming a “homeland security year”—was not a year of decisive victory for either side. It was a year of tremendous blows, but no single knockout punch. The United States and its allies continued their relentless fight against terrorism around the world, but failed to decisively crush the Iraqi insurgency or eliminate the global jihadist movement. Al Qaeda was unable to overthrow any governments, foment outright civil war or stop a new democratic government from being formed in Iraq, butit continued to exist despite the best efforts ofnumerous opponents. While on the one hand democracy impressively advanced in Iraq, Lebanon and among the Palestinian people, Al Qaeda and its clones managed to successfully conduct spectacularly deadly operations.
The outcome remains in doubt, and the contest could still go either way. And that’s not good enough, because contemplating a world in which Al Qaeda and the jihadis win is simply unbearable.
Vietnam versus Iraq
As the Iraq War grinds on, the specter of Vietnam is increasingly being invoked by its critics. There are indeed parallels: In both countries, the United States relied on a weak, indigenous ally and fought an intractable guerrilla foe. Both were conflicts of long duration.
There are also differences: The two countries have very different histories; each enemy has very different goals and ideologies; and the Vietnam war was part of a larger Cold War, while Iraq is part of a religiously driven global insurgency by non-state actors.
One huge difference between the two experiences should be kept in mind by all those who examine the analogy: In Vietnam, the consequence of defeat was a falling of “dominoes” to Communism and, indeed, when South Vietnam fell, the dominoes of Cambodia and Laos fell as well.
But none of America’s Vietnamese foes came to wreak mayhem in the American homeland.
In the current instance, though, the loss of the struggle with terrorism and jihadism will directly threaten Americans on their own soil. We can all debate the wisdom of having invaded Iraq in the first place, but that debate is now academic. We’re there and we have to win. The jihadists have already been in the American homeland. If we lose, they undoubtedly will be back.
Girding the homeland
In these circumstances, homeland security is vital to the well being of this nation and its people. Since Sept. 11, 2001, America has been spared the jihad violence and terror wrought on the rest of the world. This is no coincidence. It was the result of strong measures, unblinking vigilance, a robust and capable industry and the constant efforts of officials making countless daily refinements that improved the protection, preparedness and readiness of the United States and its people.
At the same time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff introduced sweeping reforms that should improve the work of the department he heads. Implementing and approving these reforms will be vital to maintaining the state of safety the United States has enjoyed since 9/11. They make eminent sense, they are clearly thought out, and we urge the members of Congress, the administration, the public and—most important—the entire homeland security community to support them in the form they’re proposed.
The 2004-2005 homeland security year was grim, bloody and indecisive. As we look ahead to Sept. 11, 2006, we hope and pray that, to paraphrase President George Bush’s memorable speech to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, our efforts and courage can lift “a dark threat of violence from our people and our future.”
We cannot tire, we cannot falter and we absolutely must not fail. HST

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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