The World After 9/11
Alan Jackson, a songwriter, recently penned an eloquent poem describing how each of us felt on 9/11 â€“ that sense of personal loss, that need to hold someone that we loved, that urge to cry out in fear, despair, anguish and anger when the world stopped turning that September day.
With the first anniversary of September 11th upon us, I hope that this country does not need to have thousands more Americans die on U.S. soil to understand that we, all of us, are the targets of terrorism.
September 11th has turned into a national day of remembrance and mourning. But I think itâ€™s in the interest of our national security to also commemorate the broader truths expressed to us last September 21st by our President:
“Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other that we have ever seen. . . . What is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom.”
During these September days, we will prove that we are all good at remembering what was done to us. But the truth is that some of us are beginning to forget what we still have to do about it and why.
The President has returned to the doctrine of Ronald Reagan. Reaganâ€™s policy was morally clear and unambiguous that America needed to confront communism, and not appease it. This President has applied the Reagan Doctrine to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.
And that is because after 9/11, the rules changed.
Our Arab friends have become our adversaries; our allies have become neutral (at best) or appeasers (at worst); and our enemies claim that they (not we) are the real victims.
In short, in the post 9/11 world, everything is the opposite of what it should be.
The truth is that Islam has been hijacked by Islamic fundamentalism, and the Western world, with the exception of the United States, and Israel, believes that all this can be resolved by reason and compromise.
But they are wrong.
Just as America fought fascism and vanquished it 60 years ago, we are now called upon to wage a similar struggle against an unforgiving, merciless enemy.
Whether we like it or not, humanity is poised between breakthrough and breakdown, between unimagined scientific and medical achievement, and the forces of terrorism and religious reaction that threaten to send us back to the Dark Ages.
The Free World, only now, is beginning to understand that September 11th marked a watershed in human history – the realization that we are engaged in a struggle between two diametrically opposed ideologies – democracy and radical Islam – and they are inherently incapable of being reconciled with one another.
We, in the West, who value nothing greater than the preservation of human life, cannot conceive of any culture that would sacrifice its children for dreams of the after-life.
Our liberal way of thinking provides that for every problem there must be a rational solution, and that that the solution can always be determined through reason and compromise.
Not with this enemy.
The tragedy is that, instead of recognizing Islamic fundamentalism for the threat that it is (as we did in World War II in the fight against fascism), our allies are retreating into â€œdenialâ€, seeking compromise with those who shelter and fund such movements, and finding fault on the part of America and Israel where none exists.
It is my view that our European alliesâ€™ inability to distinguish between those who are the aggressors (who care nothing for human life) and those who are the defenders (for whom the preservation of human life is paramount) constitutes the greatest moral failure of our time.
The treatment of Israel today represents a classic example of this failure.
The Europeans cannot understand that Israel is fighting for its life; that Israel is fighting with great restraint; and that Israel’s pursuit of terrorists is every bit as legitimate as our own.
Europe fails to recognize that those who target innocent civilians are â€œmurderersâ€; they are not â€œfreedom fightersâ€ and they not â€œmilitantsâ€ (as they would have us believe).
Palestinian terrorists are allowed to target Israeli civilians with impunity, while every accidental civilian death inflicted by Israel suddenly becomes a â€œcrime against humanity?â€
CNN, NPR, the UN, the BBC and the European media were eager to find a massacre that never took place in Jenin, while millions of innocents have been butchered by European and African governments over the past decade alone – and the world was silent.
Israelâ€™s so-called â€œoccupationâ€ is deemed to be responsible for Palestinian terrorism, despite the fact that Israelâ€™s withdrawal from Lebanon only encouraged Hezbollah terrorism in Northern Israel.
Why would anyone in their right mind believe that withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza today would be any different from Lebanon?
Suicide bombings, we are told, are acts of a “desperate, hopeless people”. Yet, the 9/11 terrorists came from well-educated, middle-class Saudi families, and they were anything but desperate.
Even the late leader of the military arm of Hamas, one week before his death, declared that suicide bombings were a strategic weapon designed to terrorize Israel and had nothing at all to do with desperation.
We are also told that Israel is wrong for seeking out terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza, yet never do we hear that Israel is doing what the Palestinians promised to do at Oslo, but never did.
We are told that Israel must be compelled to make “concessions for peace”. Yet, we know that, in the Arab world, concessions are seen as a sign of weakness, and in the Middle East, weakness is tantamount to a death sentence.
We are told that Israeli incursions into the West Bank and Gaza will only lead to more terrorism. Yet, the only respite from terrorism that Israel has had in two years of human carnage has come as a direct result of those incursions.
We are told that the Palestinians really are in favor of a two-state solution. Yet, the Europeans deny Palestinian polls and comments made by Palestinian leadership that â€œOslo was nothing more than a Trojan Horse – a preliminary step toward the liberation of all historic Palestine.â€
When two recent polls show that 67% of Palestinians agree that suicide bombings will pay enormous political dividends, and that the ultimate goal of the violence remains the total destruction of the State of Israel, the Palestinians are telling the world that there is something fundamentally wrong with their society.
When Palestinian mothers praise the gruesome suicides of their children, and accept blood money from Riyadh and Baghdad, few of Israelâ€™s critics complain.
And finally, the Europeans tell us that the Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel.
Really? Letâ€™s think about that one.
Did anyone ever suggest that the descendants of the 250,000 Jews expelled from their homes in Arab lands in 1948 were entitled to return to their homes of origin throughout the Arab world? Never.
Did anyone ever suggest that the Vietnamese â€œboat peopleâ€ had a right of return to their former homes in Vietnam? I donâ€™t think so.
Did anyone ever suggest that Muslims, who lost their homes in the struggle for Indiaâ€™s independence, ever had the right of return to their former homes in India? Not that I recall.
And yet Europe expects Israel to grant the Palestinians a right of return to their former homes in Israel a half century later.
I think not.
Palestinian maps tell us their intentions. Their educational system tells us of their intentions. Their religious and political leaders openly declare their intentions.
Yet the UN and the European Union refuse to accept the obvious that Americaâ€™s War and Israelâ€™s War are one and the same.
There cannot be democracy in Palestine unless and until the Islamic fundamentalist mindset of the Palestinians has been vanquished, just as the dreams of world conquest by the fascists in World War II could only be expunged by their total and absolute defeat.
The Palestinians who continue to be followers of Islamic fundamentalism must be convinced that their dreams of ever conquering Israel are futile, and that they will pay dearly should they persist in murdering innocent people.
When Israel says “never again” – it means “never again.”
And so Israel must accept the fact that no matter what it does, or fails to do, no matter how much success it achieves, no matter how few civilian casualties it causes, it will always be hated, ridiculed and censured by those who cheer on the enemies of mankind from the safety of Paris, Rome, and London.
Should that disturb us? Absolutely, but I would rather read ten thousand bad editorials, than one excellent eulogy.
What Europe fails to recognize is that Israelâ€™s war is also Western civilizationâ€™s war and that it is only a matter of time before their sense of security is shattered. That is because the issue of human security is indivisible.
Appeasement did not stop Adolf Hitler; it did not bring down Soviet communism, and it will not stop Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or the spread of Islamic fundamentalism to our shores or to theirs.
This is not a matter of diplomatic and political maneuvering. We are engaged in a war against human monsters dedicated to the elimination of our way of life. Itâ€™s just that simple.
That is the real meaning of Americaâ€™s war on terrorism.
And that is why, in June, President Bush applied the Bush Doctrine to the Palestinians. He recognized that, in all history, no two mature democracies have ever made war upon one another, and he insisted that democratic reforms and financial transparency be instituted as a precondition to American support for a Palestinian state.
Because in a democracy, leaders can be corrupt, they can be prejudiced, they can even be aggressive, but they will not survive long in office if they impoverish their people, and sacrifice their sons in futile wars – and that is why war is always the last option for a democracy. Because, in the end, democratic governments can always be voted out of office.
Dictatorships and theocracies cannot, especially those who harbor and fund movements dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.
So let us understand the true nature of the enemy whom we now confront.
Their grievance is rooted in jealousy and psychology, not politics; their goal is to destroy America, not reform it; and they can only be defeated, not negotiated with.
Islamic fundamentalists believe that America and Israel are immoral because their governments are not controlled by the Koran.
What we see as progress, they see as heresy.
“The will of the people” is irrelevant; democracy, tolerance, pluralism and freedom (the centerpieces of Western civilization) are meaningless; the will of Allah is everything.
That is because democracy, tolerance, pluralism and freedom are concepts that are alien to Islamic history.
And that is why there does not exist one democratic Arab state in the world todayâ€¦â€¦..at least, not yet.
So why do they hate us so much?
Because 500 years ago, Western civilization underwent a Reformation that separated church from state, and laid the foundation for a free thinking, educated, secular, middle class unfettered by religion.
This was followed by an explosion of intellectual genius in the fields of art, literature, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, scientific research and philosophy â€“ a period that we know today as the Renaissance.
It was this Renaissance that led to the technological and scientific supremacy of Western civilization. Our civilization.
But the Islamic world never went through a Renaissance; it never experienced an Enlightenment; it never separated church and state, so it never permitted the creation of a secular, free-thinking, educated, middle class.
In other words, the Arab world never entered the modern era.
And when the Arab regimes of the Middle East finally realized that Islamic society had been eclipsed both culturally and militarily by the West at the turn of the 20th century, they chose to portray themselves as â€œvictims,â€ searching for scapegoats and excuses, rather than confronting their own inadequacies.
The result is that, Spain, today, has a higher Gross Domestic Product than all 22 Arab states combined!
Put into the simplest of terms – when was the last time that any of you saw anything, anywhere that was “Made in Saudi Arabia or Qatar or Bahrain” other than oil.
Thatâ€™s why it was inevitable that our two civilizations – one democratic, and the other, its antithesis, would come into conflict with one another.
And that is why Palestinian parents sacrifice their children – because by destroying Western influence, they believe they are following the will of Allah, and guaranteeing their ascension to a better world in Paradise.
And that is why they danced in the streets and celebrated by throwing candies into the air as 3,000 Americans perished.
The World Trade Center, more than any other structure, symbolized the humiliation, the stagnation, and the failure of modern Arab society.
What all this means is that either the West (and democracy) will prevail; or Islamic fundamentalism (and theocracy) will prevail.
There is no middle ground, and that is why the best diplomatic efforts of our State Department, the UN and the European Union to bridge the gap between these two ideologies are doomed to failure, and both the President and the Defense Department recognize this.
From the Ayatollahs in Iran to Mohamed Atta, the common thread is that all Western influence must be purged as a precondition to the rise of fundamental Islam. Until that happens, Islam, they believe, will never restore its past glory, and overcome the shame of being eclipsed by the West.
But the sad truth is, that the only promise that Islamic fundamentalism can deliver is a world full of Afghanistans and, of course, death.
So, whether we choose to engage in this war or not, the battle is joined.
We did not start this war; but we shall end it.
The nature of our adversary is best reduced to the events surrounding the death of Wall Street journalist, Daniel Pearl.
When Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court in July for the brutal murder and decapitation of Pearl, it occurred to me how very strange it is that this man who loathed the West, was being allowed to appeal his sentence (how very Western!), whereas an innocent man like Daniel Pearl was never afforded that same opportunity.
The Pearl video targets potential Islamic recruits who find the decapitation of a Jew and an American ghoulishly thrilling — a real turn-on for the kind of people who would otherwise be gang raping village women and speciously claiming it to be the will of Allah.
More horrid than a thousand words could possibly describe, the pornography of Daniel Pearl’s death indelibly demonstrates the savagery, the irrationality, and the mercilessness, of this Islamic-fascist enemy whom we now confront.
The Europeans, for their own reasons, may wish to appease regimes that shelter and fund them;
The Arabs may look for religious excuses to justify barbarism;
The State Department may be busy building imaginary bridges of understanding, compromise and reason;
But Israel and most Americans clearly understand terrorism for what it is, and they have chosen not to dance on the edge of the volcano.
On June 7, 1981, the world condemned Israel for destroying Iraqâ€™s Osirak nuclear reactor.
Had they not done so (as Vice-President Cheney recently revealed to Israeli intelligence) the Arab Emirates of the Gulf would now be the 19th, 20th and 21st provinces of Iraq, the Saudi oil fields would be under Iraqi control, and the Gulf War would never have taken place.
That is because no democratic nation will ever attack a rogue nuclear state like Iraq, headed by a homicidal maniac, who thinks nothing of murdering hundreds of thousands of his own people.
We are told by our European allies, and by many in this country, that we should not attack Iraq until after they have acquired nuclear weapons.
And when that moment arrives, we will be told that we must not attack Iraq because they have nuclear weapons.
Time is the only commodity Saddam Hussein needs to fulfill his dream of controlling the Middle East, and sending his nuclear saboteurs to American shores.
That is why every political rally warning against “this war,” every editorial recommending “patience,” every running-for-office politician who “condemns” an attack against Iraq has a death wish.
They are blind to the lessons of history.
If the world had acted against German rearmament in the 1930â€™s, if we had stopped Adolf Hitler from seizing the Rhineland and from seizing the Sudenland, the message would have been clear even to him, and 29 million lives could have been saved.
But the appeasers of the 1930â€™s wanted to believe that they we dealing with a rational, reasonable man in Adolf Hitler, and the rest is history.
This must not be allowed to happen again.
Which takes us to our future, and to the conclusion of my remarks.
The essence of our struggle against Islamic fundamentalism is poverty. But poverty comes in many forms. People who live under tyranny are poor. Women who are powerless are poor. People who are denied access to knowledge and education are poor.
The mission of the democratic world must be to end the poverty, the stagnation, the ignorance, and the decay of the Arab World – and it begins with Iraq.
Remember that democracy was, quite literally, forced upon post-fascist Germany and Japan after World War II……….and the result has been 50 years of peace and stability both within those countries, and in their relations with the outside world.
The sooner regimes like Iraq, Syria and Iran are replaced with democratic governments, the sooner the funding and sheltering of Islamic terrorism will end; and the democratic â€œdomino effectâ€ will begin its steady sweep though the Middle East, especially in Palestine.
Terrorists who slaughter innocents in the name of Allah, and those who support them, must learn that there will be no where for them to hide.
Not in their homes. Not in their churches. Not their mosques. Not in any foreign country to which they might flee.
From the ashes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, we shall not sit idly by while our enemies seek to build bridges back to the Medieval Period.
This is a war that must be fought without compromise and without apology – just as we fought World War II.
In the battle against evil, there must be no concessions. And to defeat evil, we may have to stand alone.
The odor of appeasement, for any number of reasons, has permeated European society, which has opposed us on virtually every issue that has arisen since 9/11.
They have bristled over our tactics and strategy in Afghanistan, our treatment of captured terrorists in Cuba, our support of Israel, our resistance to Iraq, and even to the name â€œAxis of Evil.â€
It may well be that matter what we do, America will be condemned publicly during the ordeal. But those who condemn us will privately thank us in the aftermath, because that is their way.
We must cease the apologetic tone we have developed with the Arab world, and make it clear that their dictators and monarchs who lecture us are not legitimate without free and fair elections; that their P.R. men are not journalists without a free press; and that their pseudo-intellectuals are not credible without liberty.
The right to admonish Americans on questions of morality is not an entitlement, but something earned only through a shared commitment to constitutional government.
That is why the world will not be safe, until it is free. We must seek to expand the very freedoms that our enemies seek to destroy.
We must use the torch of liberty that they choose to extinguish, to light a path towards freedom in a region where hundreds of millions still live under tyranny.
It is, above all, a contest of wills, and every denial, every attempt at appeasement, every apology made, represents a surrender of our way of life.
Like it or not, we are engaged in a war of civilizations, as the President has said, and despite the sacrifices that may lie ahead, we must stay the course, because the alternative, is unthinkable.
One year ago today, 3,000 innocent men, women and children perished because of a war that they neither caused nor understood.
As President Kennedy said so long ago, in another time, against a different enemy, â€œwe of the Free World, must choose to light a candle, rather than to curse the darkness.â€
That candle is freedom.
The Free World will triumph over terrorism, and that triumph will be in memory of those who perished on 9/11, as well as for the innocent victims of terrorism in Israel and around the world.
Our victory will come not because our struggle will be easy; it will come because our cause is just.
And our victory will be their legacy.