Since we seem to put a premium in our foreign policy on preventing terrorists from setting up training camps in failed or poorly administered states, don’t you think we should consider how crucial such training was to the success of the 9/11 plot?

The most important training for the 9/11 attacks took place in Florida flight schools. I suppose some of the hijackers received some valuable hand-to-hand combat training in Afghanistan that they used to subdue the flight attendants, pilots, and a few potentially troublesome passengers. I think the more important training they received in Afghanistan was something more akin to brainwashing. Yet, a lot of that brainwashing took place in German mosques. I just don’t think the Afghan-haven was all that crucial to the success of the plot. And, insofar as the Afghan-haven played an important role, I don’t think eliminating that haven does a whole lot to prevent future attacks.

I do think it is important to prevent Islamic radicals from recreating a pipeline of new recruits trained in explosives, etc., but that’s mainly to prevent them from being thrown into battle in Kashmir or other trouble spots around the globe. I think it is a valid foreign policy to work with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to eliminate ‘terrorist-training camps’. And the same goes for other poorly governed areas like Somalia and Eritrea, not to mention Sudan. But I don’t think we need to occupy Afghanistan or constantly bomb people in Pakistan to carry out such a policy. We should consider a continuing effort in Afghanistan because we don’t want to see the country fall back into a state of chaos and civil war. But we shouldn’t stay there just to prevent terrorists from plotting against us.

The 9/11 plot could have been hatched from anywhere. The same holds true for the next plot.

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