The tragedies of 9/11 are just two years old and already we are beginning to forget what happened and why. 9/11 should have been a wake-up call to the Western world that there were dangerous stirrings developing in the Middle East that, if left unattended, would come knocking on our door.
In its aftermath, the American Administration came to realize that, in the post-Cold War era, the rules of engagement with our enemies required serious review and a more aggressive response. But the American public seems more resistant to change. Either it does not understand the big picture of democratizing the Middle East (as the surest road to stability and prosperity in the region), or it does not buy the goal or believe that it is achievable in the Arab-Muslim world. And then there are those who maintain that America should not be in the nation-building process at all.
Americans are beginning to ask questions such as why are we fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq when we have so many other pressing problems here? Do you know how much this war is costing? Whats so important about Iraq anyway? Why do we need The Patriot Act? What about defending our civil liberties? Is it really worth sacrificing American lives in foreign wars? Didnt our Founding Fathers warn us against foreign adventures such as these?
These are important questions, but they must be answered in the proper historical context.
The Western World is now engaged in what many of our leading scholars agree is World War III. The issue reduces itself to this we are fighting a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy. It is a war to preserve our way of life from those who seek to destroy it. As we enter the 21st century, the democracies of the free world are confronted by a stateless, transnational, ideologically motivated enemy whose culture differs widely from our own and is one that we barely comprehend; whose concept of life revolves around the afterlife, martyrdom and paradise; whose goal is to destroy Western civilization and to replace it with a vast Islamic Empire; and whose value system is based upon obedience and submission to a single divine authority in whose name war and the enslavement of mankind can be justified.
The Islamic faith that taught its followers that all men are brothers under God and that humility is the noblest of human endeavors is now being supplanted by a new, malignant interpretation that advocates the wrath of a vengeful, intolerant G-d against non-believers and infidels. In effect, Muslim extremists have hijacked Islam, and unless the moderate Muslim mainstream retakes the cockpit, these radicals will destroy their religion, their people and their future and wreak havoc on the world.
And they will do it in the name of Allah.
From the Western perspective, we are engaged in what Professor Samuel Huntington has termed a clash of civilizations. The West is confronted with a cultural gap that cannot be bridged by negotiation, discussion or compromise; a philosophical divide that cannot be reconciled with acceptance, pluralism or understanding; an attitude that seeks to transplant a fantasy caliphate (a kindom ruled by moselm clerics) from the ancient past into the post-modern world; and a pseudo-religious Islamic movement that cannot sustain itself unless and until all vestiges of progress, technology and human achievement are destroyed.
And these fanatics are funded by nations and persons whom we have always considered to be our friends and allies but whose true intentions are now known to be otherwise. Through charitable front organizations, the Islamic banking system, the ancient hawala monetary transfer system and charitable Muslim zakat (religious tax) donations that have been diverted for nefarious purposes, these persons and organizations are funding the world Islamic revolution not only in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, but through American mosques, Muslim educational centers, the American military and its Muslim chaplaincy, the Black Muslim community, the American penal system and academia. This is not conjecture. The evidence is overwhelming for those who choose to see it.
To combat such a malignancy requires global resolve at the domestic, foreign and financial policy levels.
It requires a global foreign policy consensus that recognizes that compromise with evil is appeasement by another name; that since democracies rarely make war upon one another, it is no shame to prefer a democratic form of government where tyranny is the alternative; that accepts the right of pre-emptive action and targeted assassinations against those who seek the destruction of our Western way of life; that defines states who harbor, shelter and sustain terrorism as terrorist states; that recognizes that the unjustifiable cannot and will no longer be justified; and that sees acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity without any religious or moral justification. Such a policy must recognize that vanquishing our enemy and convincing it of the futility of its cause are the only acceptable outcomes for the civilized world. Viewed in that light, Iraq should be seen as a battleground on which these dark Islamic forces intend to challenge the might and determination of the worlds only truly democratic superpower. That is because there is no greater threat to the nihilists of the Middle East than a secular, prosperous and free Iraq.
It requires a domestic security policy that adopts as its premise that the improbable scenario is probable; that new levels of risk assessment are necessary to achieve security against an enemy that acts without regret and morally justifies the murder of innocents in G-ds name. Such a policy will require enormous financial resources to ensure that our sea and air transportation systems are safe; and that our food, water, mail and energy distribution systems are monitored and protected from those who think nothing of murdering millions. It will require laws that balance the security needs of America with the privacy rights of Americans based upon the realities of the 21st century and the nature of the enemy whom we now confront; and it will require a national commitment to spend blood and treasure to protect our country, our society, our way of life and our posterity from a return to the Dark Ages.
To reach these objectives will require a synchronized, global financial effort by the major financial powers of the world to shut down the funding sources of terrorism - the charitable front organizations that shelter it, the vast global network of criminal and money-laundering activities that fund it; the businessmen who finance it, the banking systems that facilitate it; and the legitimate charitable donations that are diverted to sustain it.
As citizens of America, we must recognize that there is an ideological war, a political war, a financial war and a legal war all being waged against terrorism at different levels simultaneously. They are all aspects of the same war. Islamic fundamentalism, which leads to terrorism is a cancerous malignancy, a parasitic growth on the free world and it must be removed lest it consume its host. And because Islamic fundamentalism represents a global threat, the strategy required to deal with it will require global cooperation and coordination.
9/11 was a wake-up call for America. Europe still sleeps.
Just as the world was confronted with the challenge presented by German Nazism and Japanese militarism in World War II and was required to vanquish that enemy in order to remake those countries and set the stage for democracy, so we are now called to arms to ensure the survival and success of our way of life.
Let us remember that those who died on 9/11 and those who will die in future acts of terrorism have left us no choice but to distinguish clearly and resolutely between the forces of good and the forces of evil; between the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment; and to recognize that there is no option open to a free society other than victory.
This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is a matter of survival. The West must recognize that this is a war and not simply a passing skirmish. And it must also recognize that if this war is not taken to this enemy, this enemy will bring the war to our cities, to our streets and to our homes because it perceives compromise, tolerance and the search for common ground as signs of weakness, vulnerability and Western decadence.
So the next time someone asks you if its all worth it, or do you know how much this war is costing America, or why are we placing American lives in harms way, you can respond with certainty - There is no other choice.
October 3, 2003
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