Exactly seven years after Sept. 11, 2001, the war against jihadist terrorists has been an unappreciated success. Nobody should take that success for granted. In those seven years, despite numerous plans and several attempts by terrorists to replicate or even surpass that horrendous day, they have not succeeded a single time on U.S. soil.
No body count of innocents. No successful biological or chemical attacks. No airports, bridges, buildings or trains blown up. Nothing. President George W. Bush’s strategy has succeeded far beyond what the experts predicted would be the case in the weeks following the horrors at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the rural field where Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
The cynics, however, shout that we lost our focus on terrorism by invading Iraq. They are dead wrong. If the war and reconstruction of Iraq were really a dangerous diversion from the war on terrorism, as so many liberal politicians and commentators say, then why have Americans been so safe in our homeland? Why haven’t any “dirty nukes” exploded? Could it be that the effort in Iraq, as messy as it has been, has undercut the terrorists by sucking a host of them into Iraq only to die there, as die they should?
A huge proportion of those terrorists died in Anbar province, where they once enjoyed their greatest apparent successes. When U.S. forces handed control of security in Anbar to the Iraqis on Sept. 1, the occasion merited far more attention than it received here in a nation justifiably distracted by Hurricane Gustav and the political conventions. That the former terrorist haven is now a remarkably safe haven is a breathtaking achievement, considering how bad things were before Bush’s “surge” was announced just 20 months ago.
It was in Anbar that bloodthirsty terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi set up shop, and where he operated when Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief deputy, sent a 2005 letter to Zarqawi calling him the “spearhead of jihad.” There is no better authority than Zawahiri for identifying Iraq as the front line of the terrorists’ efforts. But the spearhead, Zarqawi, now is broken, crushed and buried.
We have been safe in these United States for seven years not because we are lucky, but because we took the fight to our enemies. Iraq has been an essential part of that fight. And we’re winning.