What has, and continues, to bother me more than anything else about the WOT is I'm convinced that whatever cave bin Laden is currently holed up in, he is rubbing his hands together with glee and grinning like a maniac.
He might be evil but he's also clearly very smart. And he read us well. I don't think the killing of thousands of innocent people on 9/11 was bin Laden's primary objective. It was a means to an end and that end was the same as it's always been for terrorist organizations. To create such fear and loathing, that governments and societies react, respond, are coerced into change.
IMO he's been very successful. As a result of 9/11, governments around the world have changed laws, citizens have seen their rights undermined, free speech has been curtailed, people's way of life has been changed - how they travel, how much they travel, the degree of homeland security have all been affected, airlines have gone out of business, a war has been started, Hussein (who bin Laden almost certainly hated) has been ousted and removed from power, instability in the middle east is at new heights, long-time allies have fallen out with each other, and governments have ignored the will of their people which in turn, as in Spain, then creates the impression that he is able to influence elections.
The true evil genius of bin Laden's plan is that he has discovered such an efficient and highly effective form of terrorism. No more need terrorists worry about going to the effort of frequent small-scale attacks in an effort to intimidate and coerce. Pull off one big one every few years and it's possible to achieve far greater and more widespread a response than any number of Palestinian suicide bombers. See even if the Spanish bombings are proven entirely to be ETA with no involvement from Al Qaeda, it will STILL be bin Laden who is their true architect.
I realise reading this thread that my views on how to deal with what happened on 9/11 really haven't changed much over the last couple of years. Even though I know I'll almost certainly get flamed badly for this (la de dah), I think this is what the world should have done (should do) to deal with bin Laden and his ilk.
1. Go after him relentlessly. Do not lose focus (eg. by going to war with Iraq). Make it clear that the hunt for him will never end, never abate until he is found. When he's found don't kill him and make a martyr of him. Make him suffer to the end of his days.
2. React as little as possible to the attack and to any repeat attacks. Because that is what he wants more than anything else
and I really don't think he's that fussy about the type of reaction he gets as long as it involves intimidation and instability. And before anyone says but then more innocent people will die from terrorism, they are anyway in case you hadn't noticed.
3. Acknowledge and work towards (without missiles and guns) what the vast majority of people on this stinking,rotten, f**ked up planet want regardless of colour, creed or nationality, namely - to be able to live a peaceful life, to earn a decent day's pay for a decent day's work, to speak their mind freely, to be able to practise their religion and beliefs without fear of persecution or imprisonment, to have a roof over their heads, clothes to wear and food in the cupboard, to have access to decent, affordable health care, to be able to give their kids an education, and to be able to feel confident that their children and their children's children will have a half decent world to live in.
This is IMO the only way to disarm him and those who will follow him. It's the only way to get the cat back in the bag. And no, it probably won't be pretty along the way.
n : the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments
The only way to win is to refuse to play the game.