One Reason to Stay in Afghanistan: September 11

The anniversary gives columnists a reason to remind America why staying in Afghanistan is so important

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As America prepares to commemorate a tragedy that killed about 3,000 people and shocked the country into a new era eight years ago, the event has taken center stage in one of the biggest foreign policy debates of the moment. Three of the nation's top newspapers invoked 9/11 as they urged President Obama to keep fighting to reinvent Afghanistan.

  • We Must Destroy the Ideas That Led 9/11, suggested Bret Stephens in his column in The Wall Street Journal. Not only was the 9/11 plot hatched there, he writes, but it was also the place that allowed the idea to be "imagined" by Al Qaeda. Stephens is quick to add that the entire "imaginative" groundwork for Sept. 11 was laid after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. "So imagine the sorts of notions that would take root in the minds of jihadists—and the possibilities that would open up to them—if the U.S. was to withdraw from Afghanistan in its own turn," he adds. If we lose our nerve in Afghanistan, Stephens warns that another 9/11 is imminent as he ends with a rather threatening note - "The consequence will be ashes flying again in our own streets, something to remember on the eve of another 9/11 anniversary." 
  • There Is Only One September Issue, suggested the editorial page editors of the Chicago Tribune. "None of us should forget how that lawless country tolerated the development of one particularly heinous terror plot. It came to fruition eight years ago this week, on the 11th of the month," said its editorial which was published last week.
  • We Leave, We Fail Them, warns Richard Cohen who insists that the those who killed Americans on Sept. 11 ought to pay for their deeds. "Revenge also suggests a proper concern for the dead. The people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, cannot simply be dismissed, erased," he says. Cohen ends with a dramatic "sorry" to the victims of Sept. 11. "When we go -- if we go -- we will have to acknowledge that we have broken our vow not only to Afghans who have supported us -- the Taliban, unlike us, will get its revenge -- but also with the dead of Sept. 11, 2001. We meant well," he writes.

We'll be on the lookout for more arguments in this vein. After all, there are three more days to go before September 11, 2009.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.