The immediate success of the 9/11 report may stem from the reluctance of any major U.S. politician to dispute its conclusions, but its long-term value will lie in the quality of its history. The background to the struggle with al Qaeda has been told elsewhere, but this account-of how the attacks came about, of why they took the form they did, and of the difficulties the U.S. government faced as it attempted to adjust to this new type of threat-is bound to be definitive. The implication of the report is that the adjustment is still far from complete. The recommendations start with the need for a global strategy, which points vaguely in the right direction, before moving on to the inevitable proposals for procedural reform at which all such reports end up. Unfortunately, it may be that the United States has structural features that are always going to render calls for greater harmony, unity, coordination, cohesion, and so on as forlorn as they are warranted.
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