Two Septembers later, Bush has logged one indisputible victory: except for the anthrax attacks at the end of 2001, whatever they were about, terrorism has not killed one more American on American soil. Everything else is a Klondike of uncertainty. Afghanistan is no longer a coherent regime running interference for al-Qaeda murderers. This is excellent news. But it remains a very nasty neighbourhood.
Iraq's liberators found enough mass graves to ensure Saddam Hussein a place in infamy. But no new weapons of mass destruction. And so much daily grief for the Americans that their president has become a fan of the United Nations again, if it will take some of the load off.
Palestine? No progress. Liberia? A dilemma. Korea? Saddam's denials won him an invasion; Kim Jong Il denies nothing, brags about his nukes, wants more, threatens to use them. In some circles, this kind of behaviour is known as calling a bluff.
Certainty about the world does not make the world more certain. The easiest road to moral clarity is a refusal to learn from complex events. For a few horrible hours two Septembers ago, nobody could claim to know anything. That uncertainy, at least, haunts us still. Or should.
I really, really wish I had written the first sentence of that last paragraph.