9/11/2001 is day that, like Pearl Harbor, will live in infamy, both because of the Muslim terrorists murdered of nearly 3000 people and western civilization’s reaction to their callous, craven act of violence.
Events of the days that followed demonstrated the best of America, times of great drama and heroics followed by a stirring sense of unity that can only come from – and be maintained in – a time of great national stress.
The attacks on the terrorist-run state of Afghanistan were a necessary response to the evil that stalks that region of the world. Not an axis of evil as former President Bush once described, but an evil nonetheless. It was in Afghanistan that the referendum on western civilization began.
The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan was a complete success, a rare war that was entirely justified because of the facts and one that we should have won and would have won, I believe, if not for the ill-advised opening of a second front in Iraq.
Military force is not a civilized referendum, you say? Of course it is. One need only consider the failure of most of the western world to come to the aid of the United States when it became clear that the American military was too bogged down in Iraq to handle what many would consider to be the real was in Afghanistan. This collective failure on the part of France, Germany, et al, to act in Afghanistan represents a kind of world-wide vote by the hearts, minds, and souls of westerners everywhere. Only Great Britain demonstrated the sort of resolve that indicates her civilization has the at least some of the fortitude to withstand the coming decades unscathed. More on that later.
The issue of Iraq is not, as many pacifist Europeans claim it is, an issue of national sovereignty. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who sponsored international terrorism and murdered his own people by the thousands. On his merits he deserved to be deposed and he was, almost bloodlessly, in fact.
The murderous bloodbath that occurred in Iraq, it should be remembered, was not carried by American troops. Rather, Islamic terrorists and power-hungry, would-be warlords fomented this carnage with a single goal: to ensure that democracy in Iraq would never take hold.
The lack of resolve on the part of leftists in Europe and America to do what was both right and necessary in Iraq in the face of these animals’ bloody rampage through the streets of that county is another such indication of the lack of vitality of western civilization.
Wars are neither desirable or, in the words of one former soldier, ever just. The American invasion of Iraq was not a good idea, but it was executed swiftly and successfully. In its aftermath, keeping the peace there would have required a major effort by the nations of the west and we collectively failed to act with the appropriate resolve.
Why did this happen? Some would say that it was an international rejection of George W. Bush’s policy of unilateralism. But the truth is that the shameful failure of the west to do what was necessary in Iraq and Afghanistan has much deeper roots that mere differences in style. It goes directly to the question of whether Europe and the United States have the will and the fortitude to lead the world economically, culturally, and, when necessary, militarily. The answer, I have begun to realize, is “no”.
For me, 9/11 was, among other things, the flaring of a match that provided a view into the heart of western courage. It exists in great quantity, as demonstrated by the fire brigades in New York City that fateful day, and we can count on it being present in the American military, day in and day out, in some of the worst situations imaginable.
Despite these bright spots, the conviction that our way of life is good and proper and worth preserving seems to be fading in what seems to be a growing number of westerners’ hearts.
As a collection of nations we are not willing to stand up to terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are not willing to safeguard and enforce our own borders against illegal immigration. We are not willing to uphold our own cultural mores within those borders, instead choosing to weaken them by embracing a weak-kneed multiculturalism. We are not willing to discipline ourselves in terms of dependency on oil output from terrorist states. We are not willing or seemingly capably of managing our finances and our financial system like grown men. We are not even willing to embrace the Judeo-Christian ethics and morals held so dear by the men and women that founded American and European democracy. We are not willing to work for anything, it seems, in the aftermath of 9/11, that would require a substantial sustained effort.
Is this the legacy that westerners of the 21st century truly want to leave to their children?