politics, history and the war on terror
Thursday, March 25, 2004
9/11 Revisited: The 9/11 Commission 

Ralph Peters, in Comforting the Enemy, believes the 9/11 Commission hearings are fractious, backward looking, and sends a message to terrorists that our country is divided, not united. He offers valuable truths about terrorism which are insightful. Notables:

“The best defense is a strong offense. We cannot wait at home for terrorists to strike. We must not waver from the current policy of taking the war to our enemies. The moment we falter, our enemies will bring the war back to us.”

“This is a war, not law enforcement. The struggle requires every tool in our national arsenal, from commandos to cops, from diplomacy to technology, from economic sanctions to preemptive war. At different times, in different locations, the instruments of choice will vary. There is no magic solution - or even a set of rules.”

“Our will must always be stronger than that of our enemies. Otherwise, they'll win, despite our countless advantages. If we cannot maintain the courage for the fight, the terrorists will fill the courage vacuum. The War on Terror is a zero-sum game.”

Peggy Noonan, in Sins of Omission and the 9/11 Commission, notes that the 9/11 hearings are not as partisan as would be expected. In fact, she feels the commission was a bit too cozy:

“At first I was surprised, then relieved--a partisan dogfight would only inspire America's foes. But two days in I wondered if the central dynamic of the hearings didn't come down, simply, to this: Government takes care of government. People in government who've achieved a certain position in foreign affairs tend to treat gingerly people in government who've achieved a certain position in foreign affairs.”

She offers a scathing critique of President Clinton's Administration’s handling the threat of terrorism:

“It was a failure of imagination, a failure to envision that a terrible thing could happen, that a particular terrorist group meant to do what it said it would do. There was a sunny and empty-headed assumption that America would stay lucky; after all, we'd been lucky since terrorists hit the World Trade Center in 1993, and that wasn't so bad--just a handful killed. It was a failure to take our enemies seriously. All of us each day have so much we want to do, but the terrorists each day wanted to do one thing: get America. That was an advantage. There was a pass-the-buck mentality that prevails in government, with everyone quick to go on record warning of a threat and then letting the warning itself act as a replacement for action.”

Leadership cannot be derived from town hall meetings, focus groups or polling data. An effective leader must be able to make hard choices, choices that may not be popular with the public, and must be able to present the case to the public. Whatever disagreements you may have with President Bush’s Administration, based on their actions after 9/11 the administration cannot be charged with possessing the misguided hope that we will be safe from terrorism, a lack of imagination, a failure to take the threat seriously, an unwillingness to act or a dearth of leadership.

Editors Note: Many thanks to reader Brian for the much needed prodding to write this post.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:03 PM