The tragic part of the 9/11 attacks were the tremendous loss of life. But the scary part was the sophisticated coordination of the attacks. Two coordinated airborne attacks that took place within minutes of each other, followed by a third not long after and a failed fourth attempt that came very close to working – but for civilian interference.
I was standing in my living room when the second plane hit the World Trade Center, dripping wet, watching it live. My boss had just called me to let me know about the first plane, interrupting my shower. When the second plane hit, we both knew what it meant. I don’t remember who said it first, but we were both thinking it: one plane was an accident. Two meant war.
The Paris attacks had a far lower death toll – thank God – but the coordination of the attacks carries far more military significance. At least six separate attacks, with at least seven suicide bombs. A police interception in Germany that implies that more attacks were planned.
This is the kind of coordinated terror attacks that we were afraid would follow after 9/11. They are finally upon us. Our leadership over the last 14 years has systematically failed to take the steps necessary to deal with this issue for real, instead opting to put band-aids over the situation (Bush) or to play ostrich (Obama). Instead of dealing with the situation decisively, we went out and created ISIS and made the situation worth.
War is upon us, whether we like it or not. We can argue about it all we like, but World War IV (call it World War III if you must, but I’d argue that the Cold War earned that name) has been a fact on the ground for months.
The biggest difference between today’s world and the world preceding World War I is that many of the alliances are out in the open. What will NATO do when push comes to shove? Will the French invoke Article 5? I’m ready to lay even odds that they will. It’s almost no-lose for them. If NATO steps up to the plate, then they get their retaliation with little cost. If NATO doesn’t step up to the plate, then it falls apart – and becomes a huge black eye for the Americans. The French spent half the Cold War giving us black eyes for fun, and they withdrew from the Alliance in 1966 for 30 years. They’ve got little to lose by calling in the chip.
What will Russia do? Whatever Putin is up to today, never forget that we wouldn’t have these problems in the Middle East without Russian interference. None of the terrorist groups in the region would have survived into the modern era without the training and funding they received from the Soviets in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. My bet? Putin will continue using the region to antagonize the United States and the west until the whole thing gets away from him and he realizes that he can’t control the Tiger anymore. Then Russia will join in with the western allies.
I mean, it’s not like Stalin was allied with Hitler in the early years of World War II or anything. Oh, wait…
Batten down the hatches and get ready. This ride is just getting started.