An odd thought occurred to me and I think it's worth of a quick prediction.
When we take action to ensure that something doesn't occur, that is, when we take preventative action, it is easy to second guess. When we buy insurance to ensure that we do not suffer a very large bill from a freak accident, we may be tempted to wonder if this is wise when years later, nothing happens. When we changed our laws to prevent terror, mitigate the costs of terror and make it possible to bring terrorists to justice, the same tendancy applied itself. This was quite notable back when the terror level were raised and lowered with threat levels. People started to complain that this was scary to them. Some time later (even now) the threat level stopped changing. Now, this could be because we aren't getting credible threats like we were before. This could mean that the Bush administration is doing a good job, but I would be a fool to assume that in this article. It is also possible that the terror focus has indeed shifted to Iraq to our soldiers. I won't bother evaluating this because no one will ever be convinced. Lets assume otherwise, that is, that the powers that be have stopped raising and lowering the terror level because people didn't like being scared and because it was costly to local governments.
If this is the case, then it seems terribly likely that America will be struck sometime in the future with a bitter irony. America will be struck with terror and once again, we could have seen it coming a mile away. The Right wing will say "I told you so." This will be true because the Right wing has been saying this entire time that they fully expected that we would be struck here in America at some point. The Left wing will blame the Right wing pointing to the fact that the terror alerts weren't raised and lowered at appropriate times. This will also be partially true; we made an expensive preventative mechanism that, from all we could see, didn't work because it was working. The place where the blame actually belongs is on the shoulders of some of the American public. Why the outcry that you were scared? If you were not scared than you have not fully realized the danger we are in. If you are not scared that someone wants to kill you, then you need to realize that there are lots of people that would die to ensure that you and others will die too.
People seem to have accepted the "fact" that Iraq never had WMD. Nevermind that "top military officials" have publically and on the record said they think it was moved to Syria. Top military officials disagree and we listen to the ones that agree with us. From all we can see, there's no WMD in Iraq, therefore it was never there. Yeah, and maybe Saddam Hussein never existed. Nevermind that it is clear that Iraq did have a WMD program and a program to conceal it and deny its existence. Nevermind that we found what purports to be a sanitized mobile chemical weapons lab. Nevermind that the entire world thought Iraq had this stuff. We want a smoking gun, not indications that a gun used to be here or that attempts were made to get or make a gun. We don't want a smart enemy that conceals, and fights on a different level. We should have waited for the threat to be imminent. For instance, Clinton didn't take his opportunity to have "UBL" handed to us on a silver platter when he was in the Sudan. We didn't know what he would be capable of later. This is very admirable because to capture Usama when he hadn't done anything yet would be a pre-emptive strategy that would have hurt his political agenda. If a threat is imminent, no one will feel guilty when it becomes painful like 9-11. How could we have known? If you ignore the threat, it will rear its ugly head in someone else's future administration and then you can nitpick the way they handle it. Not only do you get to avoid the pain, but you can hand it off to your enemy. It'd be pure genius if it wasn't so freaking stupid and selfish.
(Note that I am not saying that Clinton arranged for 9-11. He had no way of knowing for sure that it would happen. He only knew that evil existed and that he had the chance to painlessly remove it pre-emptively.)
Dealing with imminent threats is so much easier than having a little wisdom and nipping them in the bud because you can feel like a martyr. Why deal with education when we find that our kids are getting more and more ignorant? Lets wait for them to be actually ignorant and then throw large sums of money at fixing it, blaming everyone who disagrees with the way we do things as if they didn't care. Why deal with an energy crisis in California when you have enough energy for now? Let other administrations deal with it and borrow energy from your neighbors to the North who thought ahead and put in lots and lots of hydroelectric power.
People do not work very well with an ounce of prevention. That is why we always pay a high price in Cure. That is why we mock those who buy prevention but will either buy that prevention later at a very high price (California buying energy from Washington) or get it for free (thanks for nothing France, you did a good job of taking care of your citizens and so did we but it only cost you words).
Historians of the future will look back on this situation as a turning point in history. Historians are nearly always ignored.
If we're really lucky, we won't have a situation like Israel does 50 years from now. Or if we're really wise.
But 50 years is such a long time from now and we have problems now.....
No, wisdom and foresight are possessed by a minority and this will never change. Panic belongs to the majority and the majority will always rule; it can be no other way.