Ten years after 9/11, our answer to al-Qaida won’t be on 9/11

William Saletan in Slate:

Kash If you're looking for something big to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, look again. Yes, there will be ceremonies that day. Politicians will give speeches. Think tanks will issue reports. Terrorists will try to mark the occasion by blowing something up. But the real action won't be on 9/11. And that's because, in these 10 years, so much has changed.

9/11 was a single plot. It involved four hijackings, but they were coordinated. The idea was to hit the heart of the world's most powerful country in simultaneous attacks, sending a global message of power and intimidation. In the months afterward, the U.S. did what we're accustomed to doing after being assaulted. We waged a war. We invaded the country from which the attack had originated. We took down the regime. Two years later, we invaded another country and took down another regime, associating it (erroneously) with the terrorists who had struck us. But in the years since then, we've learned a lot. We've learned that conventional warfare won't defeat our new enemies. We've learned to answer them in a different way: not at once, in an invasion, but in hundreds of discrete—and discreet—operations. Yesterday, in a mission “planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State Intelligence Agencies,” Pakistan disclosed the capture of Younis al-Mauritania, an al-Qaida leader reportedly assigned by Osama Bin Laden to hit Western economic targets. According to Pakistan, al-Mauritania “was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive laden speed boats.” Such strikes are what you'd expect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But they might not happen that day, because we didn't wait for the anniversary. The answer to 9/11 happened a week earlier.

In fact, the answers have been arriving on many days over many years.

More here.