Monday, September 17, 2007

One Mean and Nasty War

Mark Steyn, writing today in National Review:

"We should beware anyone who seeks to explain 9/11 by using the words “each other”: They posit a grubby equivalence between the perpetrator and the victim — that the “failure to understand” derives from the culpability of both parties. The 9/11 killers were treated very well in the United States: They were ushered into the country on the high-speed visa express program the State Department felt was appropriate for young Saudi males. They were treated cordially everywhere they went. The lapdancers at the clubs they frequented in the weeks before the Big Day gave them a good time — or good enough, considering what lousy tippers they were. September 11th didn’t happen because we were insufficient in our love to Mohammed Atta."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Must Prevail

Senator Joseph Lieberman, in National Review:

Washington’s Civilizational Choice
The freedom to survive.

By Joseph Lieberman

Today we remember those who lost their lives on that horrible day six years ago. We also honor the sacrifices of Americans in uniform who have bravely fought in the war that began on September 11, 2001.

The fact is that all freedom-loving people throughout the world are engaged in a struggle against the barbarism of Islamist extremism. This is not a battle between civilizations, but rather a battle for civilization.

The cause which we are fighting for is not a Republican cause or a Democratic cause. Our cause is the cause of defending liberty and freedom against a totalitarian movement that is the evil heir to the twin totalitarian threats of the 20th century. Islamist extremism, like fascism and communism, seeks to eliminate all of the ideals that free peoples cherish.

Just as during the World War II and the Cold War, our challenge today, is not to relent in this fight for liberty. And the central front in this war today is Iraq. You cannot be serious and strong in defeating those who attacked us on 9/11 if you counsel retreat in Iraq.

To pull the plug on progress in Iraq would hand our two most dangerous enemies in the world — al Qaeda and Iran — an extraordinary military and strategic victory. These are fateful days and critical decisions we are making about Iraq. We must make them with our eye on the safety of America's next generation. It is to the credit of President Bush that he has done that in the war against Islamist extremism. He has shown the courage and steadfastness to stand against the political passions of the moment.

As Ronald Reagan once said, now is the time for choosing. If we stand united through the months ahead, if we stand firm against the terrorists who want to drive us to retreat, the war in Iraq can be won and the lives of millions of people can be saved. But if we surrender to the barbarism of suicide bombers and abandon the heart of the Middle East to fanatics and killers, to al Qaeda and Iran, then all that our men and women in uniform have fought, and died for, will be lost, and we will be left a much less secure and free nation.

That is the choice we in Washington will make this fall. It is a choice not just about our foreign policy and our national security and our interests in the Middle East. It is about what our political leaders in both parties are prepared to stand for. It is about our soul as a nation. It is about who we are, and who we want to be.

Will this be the moment in history when America gives up — when al Qaeda breaks our will, when our enemies surge forward, when we turn our backs on our friends and begin a long retreat from our principles and promise as a nation? Or will this be the moment when America steps forward, when we pull together, when we hold fast to the courage of our convictions, when we begin to turn the tide toward victory in this long and difficult war?

History tells us that appeasement of evil leads to disaster. Our cause is freedom’s cause. Together, we must prevail.

— Joseph Lieberman is a United States senator (I.) from Connecticut.

Six Years After

It was six years ago today when the perfect blue skies of a September morning were shattered by the gravest terror attack this country has ever known, and the greatest attack on U.S. soil in our history.

Living here in Utah, the immediate effects were far removed, but the entire nation went to bed that night dreading what they would wake to on September 12th.

For me, time has tempered the fears, but I find the anger I had is still there, dormant but still potent, and easily reawakened. I'm not happy with everything that has happened, but I am more frustrated with us. That we are so easily distracted, and so quick to forget. In some cases, that is virtue, but not here. And I am annoyed that some want so fervently to forget, to wish it away; because 9/11 was a stark reminder that there is evil in this world, and it cannot be ignored. You can pretend it doesn't exist, but eventually it will come to you, and completely upset the carefully constructed order of needs and wants you have built for yourself.

Some remembrances:

National Review
Jonah Goldberg
Norman Podhoretz
Victor Davis Hanson

The guys at Argghhh! share their remembrances:
The Armorer

SteelJaw Scribe describes being in the Pentagon that morning:
Part 1
Part 2

Monday, September 10, 2007

What War?

Mark Steyn, writing today in National Review:

Where’s the War?
The placidity of the domestic front.

By Mark Steyn

Oh, it’s a long, long while from September to September. This year, the anniversary falls, for the first time, on a Tuesday morning, and perhaps some or other cable network will re-present the events in real time — the first vague breaking news in an otherwise routine morning show, the follow-up item on the second plane, and the realization that something bigger was underway. If you make it vivid enough, the JFK/Princess Di factor will kick in: You’ll remember “where you were” when you “heard the news.” But it’s harder to recreate the peculiar mood at the end of the day, when the citizens of the superpower went to bed not knowing what they’d wake up to the following morning.

Six years on, most Americans are now pretty certain what they’ll wake up to in the morning: There’ll be a thwarted terrorist plot somewhere or other — last week, it was Germany. Occasionally, one will succeed somewhere or other, on the far horizon — in Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London. But not many folks expect to switch on the TV this Tuesday morning, as they did that Tuesday morning, and see smoke billowing from Atlanta or Phoenix or Seattle. During the IRA’s 30-year campaign, the British grew accustomed (perhaps too easily accustomed) to waking up to the news either of some prominent person’s assassination or that a couple of gran’mas and some schoolkids had been blown apart in a shopping centre. It was a terrorist war in which terrorism was almost routine. But, in the six years since President Bush declared that America was in a “war on terror,” there has been in America no terrorism.

In theory, the administration ought to derive a political benefit from this: The president has “kept America safe.” But, in practice, the placidity of the domestic front diminishes the chosen rationale of the conflict: If a “war on terror” has no terror, who says there’s a war at all? That’s the argument of the Left — that it’s all a racket cooked up by the Bushitlerburton fascists to impose on America a permanent national-security state in which, for dark sinister reasons of his own, Dick Cheney is free to monitor your out-of-state phone calls all day long. Judging from the blithe expressions of commuters doing the shoeless shuffle through the security line at LAX and O’Hare, most Americans seem relatively content with a permanent national-security state. It’s a curious paradox: airports on permanent Orange Alert, and a citizenry on permanent …well, I’m not sure there’s a homeland-security color code for “Gaily Insouciant,” but, if there is, it’s probably a bland limpid pastel of some kind. Of course, if tomorrow there’s a big smoking hole where the Empire State Building used to be, we’ll be back to: “The president should have known! This proves the failure of his policies over the last six years! We need another all-star Commission filled with retired grandees!”

And that would be the relatively sane reaction. Have you seen that bumper sticker “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB”? If you haven’t, go to a college town and cruise Main Street for a couple of minutes. It seems odd that a fascist regime which thinks nothing of killing thousands of people in a big landmark building in the center of the city hasn’t quietly offed some of these dissident professors — or at least the guy with the sticker-printing contract. Fearlessly, Robert Fisk of Britain’s Independent, the alleged dean of Middle East correspondents, has now crossed over to the truther side and written a piece headlined, “Even I Question The ‘Truth’ About 9/11.” According to a poll in May, 35-percent of Democrats believe that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. Did Rumsfeld also know? Almost certainly. That’s why he went to his office as normal that today, because he knew in advance that the plane would slice through the Pentagon but come to a halt on the far side of the photocopier. That’s how well-planned it was, unlike Iraq.

Apparently, 39-percent of Democrats still believe Bush didn’t know in advance — or, at any rate, so they said in May. But I’m confident half of them will have joined Rosie O’Donnell on the melted steely knoll before the Iowa caucuses. If Iraq is another Vietnam, 9/11 is another Kennedy assassination. Were Bali, Madrid, and London also inside jobs by the Bush Gang? If so, it’s no wonder federal spending’s out of control.

And what of those for whom the events of six years ago were more than just conspiracy fodder? Last week the New York Times carried a story about the current state of the 9/11 lawsuits. Relatives of 42 of the dead are suing various parties for compensation, on the grounds that what happened that Tuesday morning should have been anticipated. The law firm Motley Rice, diversifying from its traditional lucrative class-action hunting grounds of tobacco, asbestos, and lead paint, is promising to put on the witness stand everybody who “allowed the events of 9/11 to happen. And they mean everybody — American Airlines, United, Boeing, the airport authorities, the security firms — everybody, that is, except the guys who did it.

According to the Times, many of the bereaved are angry and determined that their loved one’s death should have meaning. Yet the meaning they’re after surely strikes our enemies not just as extremely odd but as one more reason why they’ll win. You launch an act of war, and the victims respond with a lawsuit against their own countrymen. But that’s the American way: Almost every news story boils down to somebody standing in front of a microphone and announcing that he’s retained counsel. Last week, it was Larry Craig. Next week, it’ll be the survivors of Ahmadinejad’s nuclear test in Westchester County. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out, a legalistic culture invariably misses the forest for the trees. Senator Craig should know that what matters is not whether an artful lawyer can get him off on a technicality but whether the public thinks he trawls for anonymous sex in public bathrooms. Likewise, those 9/11 families should know that, if you want your child’s death that morning to have meaning, what matters is not whether you hound Boeing into admitting liability but whether you insist that the movement that murdered your daughter is hunted down and the sustaining ideological virus that led thousands of others to dance up and down in the streets cheering her death is expunged from the earth.

In his pugnacious new book, Norman Podhoretz calls for redesignating this conflict as World War IV. Certainly, it would have been easier politically to frame the Iraq campaign as being a front in a fourth world war than as a necessary measure in an anti-terrorist campaign. Yet who knows? Perhaps we would still have mired ourselves in legalisms and conspiracies and the dismal curdled relativism of the Flight 93 memorial’s “crescent of embrace.” In the end, as Podhoretz says, if the war is to be fought at all, it will “have to be fought by the kind of people Americans now are.” On this sixth anniversary, as 9/11 retreats into history, many Americans see no war at all.

— Mark Steyn is the author of America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.