Today is the 11th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole at Aden, Yemen by operatives of al Qaeda. The bombing killed seventeen sailors and wounded another 39.
The US response to the Cole bombing may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in foreign policy history because it emboldened al Qaeda to take even bigger risks. A year later, 9/11 happened.
This chain of events cannot be more important to our current state of affairs. Actions have consequences, even when the action is failure to act. The bombing of the Cole is an example of what happens when nations do not take care of their problems or the threats arrayed against them.
We live in a time where the national instinct is to give up, and if we do so, we consign ourselves to the real risk of even worse things happening because of an emboldened enemy that will think it has won a great victory. We failed to act after the Cole bombing, and that failure helped bring 9/11. If we fail to finish the job in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, what consequences will we bring on ourselves?
UPDATED to reflect that this is the 11th not 10th anniversary of the attack. –DLH