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Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2001 / 2 Tishrei, 5762

Marc Berley

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Because We're America -- We let it happen, the infamy of September 11, 2001. It could not have happened without the willingness of the American people. America has watched Israel absorb the blows of suicidal terrorists for years and still managed to criticize Israel's will to defend itself.

Now it has happened to us. And the American people and the Congress have never been more resolved than they are now. The Senate voted 98-0 to give President Bush the authority to use the force he considers necessary to fight our new war against terrorism. The House of Representatives voted 420-1.

It appears we now have the will to fight a war against terrorism. We didn't before September 11th. Actually, we were just waiting to be hit. Because we're America, because we're devoted to liberty, because we value civil liberties, because we bring people to "justice" rather than seek proactively to ensure our safety, we could never really fight terrorism until we were actually terrorized.

Intelligence told us what we needed to know: not only could it happen, it eventually would. It's not fair to say we didn't do anything. We did plenty. We just didn't do what it would have taken to keep America safe.

Why? Because we're America. Because we are the best in the history of West, the distillation of its finest traditions, especially liberty and justice for all.

America doesn't snuff out people who are plotting legally against us. We catch those who have committed crimes or committed prosecutable blunders in their planning. And we "bring them to justice," which means subpoena, arrest, trial.

Remember the 1993 bombing of the WTC? Our criminal justice system worked overtime to put a few perpetrators in jail. As for deracinating the evil network, our laws wouldn't allow it. And our adherence to our laws wouldn't allow us to break them.

More than two weeks before the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, Newsweek reports in its September 24th issue, "the FBI began an investigation into two of the suspected hijackers after receiving information from the CIA that the men were associated with the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden." The FBI knew what kind of characters they were. But it didn't have enough evidence to lock them up.

The suicide hijackers did what they did to get to heaven. As for their still-living associates, Attorney General John Ashcroft has already announced a couple of early arrests, hundreds of interviews, and numerous subpoenas. In other words, we seek to bring terrorists to "justice."

America's justice system is founded on principles that keep its citizens free. Why did Timothy McVeigh blow up a federal office building in Oklahoma's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 innocent people on April 19, 1995? He believed the growing powers of the American government were encroaching on the constitutional freedoms of Americans.

Why did the September 11th hijackers kill some 5,000 innocent Americans as part of their holy war, or Jihad? The cultural attractiveness of American liberty threatens the global expansion of Islamic extremism.

The September 11th attack proved McVeigh wrong. America is so free it couldn't prevent coordinated teams of hijackers from flying planes into the buildings that represent and protect our freedom.

The American freedom that the Islamic extremists wish to destroy is the freedom that allows them to perform their evil deeds.

America is America because of its devotion to individual liberty. We believe in the dictum of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death." This commitment is emblazoned on the license plate of the state where we start our presidential primaries: "Live free or die." The suicidal terrorists are testing us.

America is the model of the West. And the West has long had its own suicidal mission: To die for one's principles. One of those principles is that it is better to be killed than to kill. Both Socrates and Jesus Christ taught this lesson. Both taught that it is better to die to prove one's principles than to live by contradicting them.

The plot of the anti-Western, anti-American terrorists on September 11th was ingenious. So too is their plan for putting America in the most difficult Western moral bind.

America does not want to stoop to the level of the terrorists to beat them. As we did in Desert Storm, we'll go out of our way to avoid killing civilians. This will compromise our abilities to achieve our mission and also put our military at risk.

Because we are America, we are committed to losing American lives in order to protect the lives of the civilians our enemies purposefully endanger.

The terrorists knew all this when they hit us where it counts.

War has been declared on America by the most unprincipled warriors. War, by definition, is a temporary falling off from the principles that define our civilization. To prevent the permanent loss of the principles that make our civilization what it is we must fight this war to win.

We've been given what former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls a "wake-up call from Hell." We can wake up, or we can court the end of civilization.

JWR contributor Marc Berley, president of the Foundation for Academic Standards & Tradition, is author of After the Heavenly Tune and co-editor of The Diversity Hoax. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Marc Berley