9/11 & The Sleepless Evil in Our Midst

by on September 11th, 2009

As our nation reflects on the horrific, unprovoked attack eight years ago today, a common theme is the incremental attenuation of our vigilance. For all of his domestic policy foibles, and regardless of our success in degrading the threat of radical Islam, former President Bush never failed to appreciate that al-Qaeda was a sleepless and lethal malice.

With a liberal now in the White House, one who ignorantly championed a premature withdrawal from Iraq, and who firmly, and naively, subscribes to the State Department approach to dealing with belligerents, it’s clear that America’s history of periodic appeasement of tyranny has become reanimated.

Our nation’s foes have historically been state-based and our battlefields have been conventional. With the advent of radical Islam in the past three decades, America has been slow to comprehend the depth and resilience of this evil and its response to its nascent threats in the 90s was to treat it as a criminal justice matter.

Although 9/11 clarified that America specifically and the West generally has been targeted for a decades-long war, the memories of that savage morning have faded and the absence of further attacks on our soil has convinced many among us, in particular Democrats, that the threat has abated.

Below is a quote from a little known, much less read, speech by a well known American president. Those familiar with history will probably recognize it, but it demonstrates the civic and cultural disparity that has developed over the decades between those who understand that evil is timeless and those who willfully refuse to recognize the gathering storm.

“It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance…we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,–for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, every thing that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”

This was President Wilson’s war address to Congress on April 2, 1917 and although it may lack the eloquence of a Lincoln or a Washington, it nonetheless acquits the values and principles of America as a beacon for freedom and democracy, and her willingness to project those values to other nations.

Because this jihad against us comes in the form of a stateless and shadowy presence, one manifest in over sixty countries, and because many on the left are reticent to call an ideological aggressor with religious underpinnings an enemy, we’ve unwittingly abetted its capacity to strike again. Indeed, Mr. Obama has redacted the phrase “war on terrorism” from his administration’s lexicon and replaced it with a euphemism, in a wholly obtuse effort to win approval in the court of global opinion.

In the interbellum years after WWI, America and her allies were blinded to the possibility that a revanchist Germany could rekindle its military and unleash the horrors that engulfed Europe. In early 1938, in a letter to his sister, Neville Chamberlain wrote that he would contact Hitler to tell him

“The best thing you [Hitler] can do is tell us exactly what you want for your Sudeten Germans. If it is reasonable we will urge the Czechs to accept and if they do, you must give assurances that you will let them alone in the future.”

The problem, of course, is that Hitler was using the issue of the Sudetenland as a pretext for war, and Chamberlain as a predicate for peace.

For reasons that will only become clear with the passage of time, America has moved back into a cycle of appeasement, where interminable diplomacy with Iran will doubtless lead to its acquisition of a nuclear weapon, and where a deliberative hobbling of our intelligence agencies to aggressively pursue their mission will create vulnerabilities that the Islamic extremists will gladly exploit.

As we pray for the three thousand Americans who perished eight years ago today, it’s vital that we understand that permitting the slow degradation of our defenses against this enemy is the gravest disservice we can do to their memories and to the future security of our Republic.

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Philip Mella