Today is September 11th, 2013.
Twelve years ago today, a cell of angry, highly committed, and (by the standards of their peers) extremely well trained young men executed the simultaneous hijacking of four airliners, and used them to mount a suicide attack on those they perceived as their enemies.
What have we learned from this?
This is a serious question.
As a direct consequence of the actions of the Hamburg cell, thousands of people died; but the indirect consequences included the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. 9/11 provided the proximate motivation for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; the indirect costs of the latter are estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Worse still, we saw a rush throughout the developed world and the Middle East to pass draconian anti-terrorism laws and build or enlarge institutions of surveillance in an attempt to provide early warning of similar black swan terrorism events in future -- institutions which have eroded the civil liberties of hundreds of millions, if not billions of people.
But what have we learned?