Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbai, America, and the Global Community

This David Ignatius column in The Washington Post on the Mumbai terrorist attacks asks some important questions. I am always astounded when I hear about how safe Bush administration policies have made us. And I am reminded of how profoundly we have devalued our alliances these last eight years. For while there have been no attacks on United States soil (note: We went longer between attacks on US soil during the Clinton administration and into the first eight months of this one, so the "kept us safe" meme is a bit fraudulent in any case) our allies have certainly faced the horrors of terrorism. Madrid, London, Mumbai, and of course Israel have all faced terrorist attacks. American solipsism has led too many to assume that 9/11 somehow made us singularly victimized and thus singularly virtuous. If, as many have asserted, 9/11 ended the American holiday from history, perhaps 1/20 will mark the end of our holiday from the responsibilities of (and not just expectations from) our alliances.

David Ignatius is right that we, the United States, almost certainly will face future threats of terrorist attacks. But it is equally important to recognize that we, as part of a larger world, have been facing these challenges regularly, and that triumphalism about supposed successes on the home front should not cloud our judgment as to the realities of the world.