How would developments in the 21st century compare with events that have taken place in the 20th century?
“I wish I had a crystal ball to answer this question with certainty,” retired Adm. James Loy said in an interview with the Lake Placid News and The Virginia Gazette. He is the retired deputy secretary of Homeland Security and former commandant of the Coast Guard.
“We can be sure that there won’t be major sea battles like it was at Midway, in World War II. We had traditional enemies then. There were known borders, and wars were fought when all diplomatic efforts failed.
“In the 21st century there would be less clarity, as for example, what to do against what is portrayed as trans-national terrorism,” Loy continued. “There would be also a variety of challenges in Asia and Africa that the international community will have to deal with. But I think that some of the international organizations that until now were unable to cope with world issues, will gain strength and actually would be part and parcel of the solutions in the 21st century.”
Adm. Loy was the speaker at a public forum to be held at the Williamsburg Library. He spoke on “The new normalcy in the post-9/11 security environment.”
In a 2007 interview with the Lake Placid News and The Virginia Gazette, Loy said, “9/11 was one of those seminal events that had changed everything.” Does he evaluate the recent uprising in Egypt, and the unfolding turmoil in the Middle East in similar vein?
“For the Egyptian people and for President Mubarak, as well as the other players it certainly was a seminal event,” Loy said. “But comparing it to 9/11, historians will have to watch developments for several years before it could be determined whether it was a seminal event in Middle East.”
This assessment dovetails the views of many Middle East experts who caution against euphoria, as reflected on the TV screen. They point out that while Mubarak is gone, it doesn’t mean the triumph of democracy in Egypt. The military council is governing the country, and it has dramatically increased its power. Although it has promised a new constitution ratified by a referendum, it is unclear how long it would take to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.
In its report on the events in Egypt, STRATFOR, a global intelligence company states, “It is not that nothing happened in Egypt, and it is not that it isn’t important. It is simply that what happened was not what the media portrayed but a much more complex process, most of it not viewable on TV… It is not clear that anything that has happened changes Egyptian foreign and domestic policy. It is not even clear that those policies could be changed in practical terms regardless of intent.”
Loy believes that what happens in other countries in the Middle East would be the ultimate answer to the question whether the uprising in Egypt was a seminal event.
“If there is a resurgence in trans-national terrorism, it would certainly be a problem for the whole region to deal with,” he said. “As we all know, in this post-9/11 security environment what happened in Egypt still has to be determined.”
His 45-year career in the military and in the field of national security may have predisposed Loy to advocate solutions to the problems America faces abroad, by military means. Instead, he has consistently maintained that what the U. S. faces is not a military challenge.
“What we are facing is a brand new challenge of a confrontation between dramatically different ideas. Ours is based on values of liberty, freedom, democracy and life itself, while our enemies are using the religion of Islam as a false pretense, to reject everything we hold dear,” he said.
He believes that the vast majority of Muslims around the world, from Morocco to Indonesia, uphold the same values about the sanctity of life as we do. “We must prove, day by day, that we do live up to the principles that were articulated by Madison, Jefferson and Lincoln,” he said.
Frank Shatz lives in Williamsburg, Va. and Lake Placid. His column was reprinted with permission from The Virginia Gazette.