... those who lost their
lives on 9-11 of 2001 were the heroes who created in the rest of
us in our generation, the anger, the determination, the actions
necessary, and the patience to change the world into a globe of
few nights ago I came home late and turned on television and there
was a movie, a comedy filmed in New York made maybe about a decade
ago. The skyline was behind the lead actor and actress who were
talking to each other, and there in the far distance in lower Manhattan
were the two towers of the World Trade Center standing high above
the rest of the city. It was chilling to suddenly see those towers
standing alive. Nothing was made of it in the film. Naturally nothing
was made of it. It was made before 9-11. But seen in this later
time, the film that was meant to be a comedy was like a sudden fist
in the stomach. It was impossible to continue to watch it, seeing
again the towers as they were and as they should be. Some 2,792
people who were walking in and out of those towers arent doing
that anymore: people who should still be living and doing all the
things were still able to do. And all of that was so compounded
by the tragedy at the Pentagon and in Somerset County of Pennsylvania
in the most devastating combined attack ever on the United States,
two years ago today.
put it in context of the current, it took place two years ago, two
towers ago, and two dictatorships ago: Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan
is no longer under the rule of the Taliban, some of them dead, some
captured, some hiding in caves. Iraq is no longer under the rule
of the Baath Party, some dead, some captured, some hiding in the
desert. The principals of the former governments who are alive,
no longer live in the luxury of marble and ivory. Their new living-quarters
are made of rocks in one country and sand in the other. Theyre
distant from the opulence they built by the torture of others, and
they have to hide from those that hunt them, and be suspicious of
anyone who claims to be a friend. Theyll die, but if theyre
still alive, Usama bin Laden, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Saddam Hussein
are, I believe, living through the coming-attractions of hell. The
full-length feature coming soon.
who lived under their jurisdiction now have the offer of liberty.
The difficulty is that so many dont know the meaning of the
word "liberty," and are too used to the meaning of the
parents always said to never be afraid of anything that fear
is the greatest and most potent weapon in the world, and it is.
I dont want to stray from that, but I have to admit that I
am fearful of recent developments here at home within the past few
months, fear of an increasing complacency and impatience:
is reflected in recent polls that tabulate that the chief concern
of Americans now is the economy. And then health care. And further
down the list is terrorism. Obviously, to those Americans two years
is a long time ago, its history, and so a growing amount are
not seriously concerned about the repetition of a 9-11 despite all
the valid warnings.
some others, there is impatience impatience to just be done with
it. They believe we should have won yesterday, at the latest today
that this is going on too long.
because Americans are a uniquely impatient people. We, characteristically,
find yesterday to be a long time ago. Were a people who rush
to the future receiving Christmas catalogues in this months
mail, we buy October magazines in September, next years models
of cars are out this year, and were the nation of people who
buy Sunday newspapers on Saturday. Our inherent American impatience
for tomorrow is a great asset in peace-time but a terrible liability
in war. We need to be especially patient now because the terrorists
are. Theyll wait. John Dryden, the British writer back in
the 17th Century wrote, "Beware the fury of the
patient man." Is that ever true.
month, August the Seventh, the Congress, in impatience to exhibit
theyve come to conclusions, released an 838 page report called
the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before
and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001." Dont
bother reading it.
9-11 came to be does not require a lengthy report or reams of research.
It calls for nothing more than a normal memory. And I believe the
authors didnt remember or some didnt want to remember
why our intelligence failed. It failed because of an incident some
28 years ago, on February the 27th of 1975.
was when Senator Frank Church was heading the Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence and that day Senator Church announced that the contract
agreement, the secrecy oath signed by all CIA employees would now
be waived, and CIA agents should testify to his committee about
those things that they had sworn to hold secret.
directive in Senator Churchs committee in 1975 was the end
of what had been a magnificent intelligence agency. The best. Some
of the finest agents then resigned or took early retirement, while
some agents testified as demanded. Revelations followed revelations
that followed revelations. It was a pouring, a torrent of information
spread around the world.
one country after another, those revelations were printed in magazines
quickly designed for the purpose of printing CIA disclosures. "Covert
Action Information Bulletin" exposed over 1000 names of CIA
agents. There was "Liberacion" Magazine and "Counterspy"
Magazine and a publication called "Anti" in Athens with
the names of 64 Americans they said worked for the CIA in Greece.
The name of Richard Welch, our Station Chief in Athens was revealed,
and The Athens News re-printed his name, address, and phone
number. It was effective. On December the 23rd of 1975,
when Richard Welch was walking home from a Christmas party, he was
that, it became near-impossible to keep or find local people in
host-countries, citizens of foreign countries to help the CIA. They
quit in droves. If they stayed, the jeopardy under which they served
was too great, not only to themselves but to their families. They
faced a risk of disclosures from the very nation to whom they had
given so much. Ours.
this day, 1975 is remembered by those foreigners who pass the word
to a younger generation, and so there is still much unwillingness
to serve. Because it still goes on we have to have a coalition of
intelligence from other nations who do not have a reputation of
public exposure. Too bad but we have to rely on others.
next date that guaranteed disaster-to-come was February the First
of 1979 after President Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran, ushering
in the Ayatollah Khoumeini, establishing the first Islamic Fundamentalist
Revolutionary government in the world. The White House and State
Department of the time were in virtual glee to be done with the
Shah, as though Khoumemi was a savior of human rights. Our U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations stated "Khoumeini will be
somewhat of a saint when we get over the panic." Our U.N. Ambassador
was, of course, a poor prophet. Khouemini will be remembered as
the one that started and spread the contagious disease of fundamentalist
rule with its advocacy of terrorism a disease that infected other
two ingredients were mixed: a dead intelligence agency and a live
Islamic Fundamentalist Revolutionary terrorist government. That
mixture was stirred and stirred. Theres an old and wise Arab
expression: "It is written." And it was written
that it was only a matter of time before the steaming cauldron of
those two combined ingredients would result in peril for the United
States and other people around the world.
now the world has changed.
of you may remember Margaret Whitings recording of a song
called "Far Away Places." The opening lyric was "Far
away places with strange sounding names, far away over the sea.
Those far away places with the strange sounding names are calling,
calling me." It was written right after World War II was won,
and in that comfort, the more distant the locale and the more exotic
the sound of a foreign name, the more enticing was the destination.
I was moved by it. I believed her.
more. Now it is not enticing to hear the names of Kandahar or Bali
or Nairobi or Dar es Salaam or Casablanca or Islamabad or Baghdad
or Jericho or Haifa or Jerusalem or Djakarta or Mindanao or Amman
or Bombay and too many other great cities and locations that have
known the suddenness of attacks that intentionally targeted non-combatants.
Thats the definition of terrorism the intentional targeting
terrorists entered this century with massive attacks on the United
States, our nation and much of the world has been at war, a truly
world war, sending our troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar,
the Philippines, Liberia.
why, some ask, are we sending troops even to places that had no
role in 9-11?
answer is Vision. Its what we always request in leaders but,
when granted, theyre attacked for having the very trait we
say we want. Vision requires that we need to do pre-emptive things
today because tomorrow will be devastating if those things are left
undone. Maybe our generation could withstand one or another foreign
advocate of terrorism. Maybe. But the next generation of Americans
would then be endangered by our inaction and we better see to
it that they are not endangered.
all have to know that this is the largest and most difficult war
ever fought and we have no time to take detours from our goal of
victory. At one time a simple hand-signal meant victory. As kids
in my generation, we copied it from Churchill and gave it as a greeting
to each other on the playground. "V for Victory." But
some two decades later, the 1960s, that Churchillian symbol was
reversed by new kids to mean not victory, but peace as though
nothing and no one was worth fighting for. Certainly not Vietnamese
or Laotians or Cambodians. Dont fight. "Make Love, Not
War," their placards read. Some of them still believe in peace-above-all
rather than liberty-above-all. They seemed to have forgotten that
our Founders could have had peace easily. So easily; just dont
be Founders. No war of independence. No U.S.A. and there would have
Lincoln could have chosen peace if he wanted to settle for two nations,
one free, one slave, and he could have saved over a half million
lives by doing that. They would have lived. We would have had peace.
On the Monday morning after December the 7th, President
Roosevelt could have asked the congress for a declaration of accommodation
with what was the Japanese Empire, rather than a declaration of
war. President Reagan could have ignored Grenadas Government,
and Nicaraguas Sandinistas and El Salvadors Marxists
and he could have gone to Berlin and followed the advice of his
State Department and National Security Council by not saying
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" And the first President
Bush could have said, "Let Saddam Hussein take Kuwait."
And our second President Bush could today choose peace above all.
He could. Settling for peace while ignoring the threat of losing
liberty is easy. But peace without liberty is surrender.
people ask "What is our exit strategy? The President has to
tell us his exit strategy," there should be only one answer:
nights ago, Sunday night, President Bush said that "Members
of the United Nations now have an opportunity and a responsibility
to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and
democratic nation." Let me inject a personal belief: they wont
do it. The U.N. may well take a broader role, but not what the President
requested. He requested the U.N. take a broader role in assuring
that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation. There has been no
evidence over the past decades that the U.N. has any interest in
encouraging freedom and democracy. Why not? Because some 72 of its
member-states are not free and are not democratic. Those governments
want no more free states as it risks their own future if their own
people were given the right to vote. And even some governments that
are free and democratic in the U.N. like the governments of France,
Germany, and Belgium, cater to non-democracies as they strive for
an expansion of influence, not an expansion of liberty.
is a great word thats used about the future of the United
States that I never hear about other nations. Never. Only about
the United States. The word is "destiny" used from the
time Daniel Webster said "One Country, One Constitution, One
Destiny," all the way to this past July the 17th
when Prime Minister Blair spoke about the future of the United States
to a Joint Meeting of our Congress. In the time between Daniel Webster
and Prime Minister Blair, FDR said that we have "a rendezvous
with destiny" and President Reagan said, "We will achieve
our destiny." That destiny as a nation is rarely defined, but
weve always known what it meant and what it means. Our destiny
is bringing the promise of liberty to the peoples of the world.
Liberty is hated by terrorists, despised by them. Liberty kills
their objectives. They are, in a quirk of irony, making us achieve
our destiny sooner than we ever would have without their uncivilized
Minister Blair, in his speech, said this: "Why America?
destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time,
and the task is yours to do." And he added, "Youre
not going to be alone. Well be with you in this fight for
liberty." What a man! That from a Prime Minister of Great Britain
and, no less, from Great Britains Labour Party. If he knows
our destiny and praises it, every American should know it and welcome
it. Some generations havent known why they were here. We do.
Thats the privilege of our time.
is so often felt that those Americans who were killed on 9-11 died
in vain. Ive heard that. No, they didnt die in vain.
The terrorists acts of 9-11 have forced this nations
hand. Prior to 9-11 we made small gestures but we werent fighting
a war against terrorism. Now we are, and it is written that the
United States will win the war with victories unmatched, in places
unexpected, probably in far away places with strange sounding names.
sure, time is going to pass, it always does, and generations will
pass, they always do, and there is great comfort in knowing that
the night is going to come when some guy will come home late, turn
on the television and see a movie with long-ago photographed images
with those two towers in the background higher than anything else
in the city. And he will know, just like all people of his generation
will know that those who lost their lives on 9-11 of 2001 were the
heroes who created in the rest of us in our generation, the
anger, the determination, the actions necessary, and the patience
to change the world into a globe of liberty and that we accomplished
the quest thats been known ever since Daniel Webster said,
"One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny."
Herschensohn teaches public policy at Pepperdine University and
is a member of the Center for Individual Freedom's Board of Directors.
He delivered this address on September 11, 2003.
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