Magazine September 13, 2021, Issue

Counter-terrorism since 9/11

Manhattan, September 11, 2001 (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Criminals or combatants?

The debacle in Afghanistan returns the United States to our pre-9/11 threat environment. In fact, the threats are arguably worse. It would be an overstatement, though, to conclude that we are back to the state of vulnerability that obtained on September 10, 2001. Our counter-terrorism is markedly superior today. That is cause for guarded optimism but not overconfidence. In many ways, it is a reflection of how bad things were prior to 9/11. While national security has dramatically improved since then, there is serious backsliding.

Let’s be precise about why we undertook the effort that has now unspooled into a disaster.

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This article appears as “Criminal or Combatant?” in the September 13, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Afghanistan is a debacle and, more than most acts of the U.S. government, it is the responsibility of one man — Joseph Robinette Biden.

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