The War Didnt Begin on 9/11
Jeff Jacoby, columnist of the
Boston Globe is almost always "right on." In this
essay he makes clear that Islam's war against the West, mostly
the United States, has been going on for a long time. Except
that we didn't want to acknowledge and realize it. The last
paragraph really sums it up.
Gerardo Joffe, President
by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe, September 11, 2003
The war we are in didn't begin on Sept. 11, 2001.
It began 22 years earlier.
On Nov. 4, 1979, Islamist radicals stormed the US embassy in Tehran and, with
the support of the Ayatollah Khomeini, proceeded to hold 52 Americans hostage
for the next 15 months. The Carter administration's response an embargo
on Iranian oil, a break in diplomatic relations, and a botched rescue attempt
the following April was feeble and inept. It was also the start of a
pattern that would be repeated time and again in the years and administrations
When a string of American citizens living in Lebanon were abducted and
some of them tortured and killed by Iranian- and Syrian-backed terrorists
between 1982 and 1991, the United States reacted not with a terrible swift
sword, but with a pathetic arms-for-hostages ransom scheme. When a massive
car bomb at the US embassy in Beirut murdered 63 people in April 1983, and
another attack in October killed 241 Marines in their barracks, the Reagan
administration promised vengeance, but in the end merely withdrew US troops
And so it went when TWA Flight 847 was hijacked and Navy diver Robert Stethem
murdered in 1985. When the cruise liner Achille Lauro was seized and Leon Klinghoffer
shot dead in his wheelchair. When Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Scotland,
killing all 259 people on board. When the World Trade Center was bombed in
1993. When dozens of Americans were murdered by Arab terrorists in Israel.
When two US military compounds in Saudi Arabia were destroyed in 1996, leaving
26 dead and more than 500 wounded. When Al Qaeda blew up the American embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania. When the USS Cole was attacked, and 17 sailors killed,
Atrocity followed atrocity, but the fury of the United States was never aroused.
The terrorists and the Middle East dictatorships that sponsor them attacked
us again and again, but Washington retaliated when it bothered to retaliate with
only half-hearted gestures and empty rhetoric.
No, the terror war didn't start on the 11th of September. What happened on
9/11 is that America began fighting back. And the counterattack was launched
not from Washington but from the skies over southeastern Pennsylvania, when
the heroic passengers of United Flight 93 rose against the terrorists, and
aborted the fourth attack.
In the two years since they went down fighting, much has changed in the terror
war. The Taliban regime that harbored Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is no more, and
thousands of terrorists have been captured or killed. Osama bin Laden is on
the run, his ability to wreak terror crippled. Saddam Hussein, one of the world's
most dangerous tyrants and a key terrorist ally, has been brought down, and
the United States is rebuilding Iraq into a stable democracy.
Most important of all, American eyes have opened to the threat from Islamofascism,
the totalitarian ideology that has succeeded Nazism and Communism as the foremost
menace to the norms of civilization and the liberty of the West. President
Bush understands, as he put it earlier this week, "that terrorist attacks
are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of
weakness." And that "the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people
is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans."
But if much has been accomplished in the war on terrorism, the worst sponsors
of terror nonetheless remain untouched. We have taken the fight to the terrorists,
but we have not yet taken on the terror-states that are their mainstay and
refuge: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The governments of those three countries,
more than any other, were responsible for Sept. 11 and the 22 years of terrorism
that preceded it. Until they are toppled or transformed, the war against us
will go on.
Bush grasps a critical point: The root of international terrorism is the lack
of freedom in the Muslim Middle East. Iraq is the central theater in the war
against terrorism because the terror mafia is determined to prevent the emergence
of a stable and democratic Arab country. The president rightly said in his
speech on Sunday that as liberty puts down Iraqi roots, the terrorists will
retreat. But retreat to where? To oblivion? No back across the border
to the terror strongholds they are coming from: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
For years, the State Department has identified the theocratic dictatorship
in Iran as the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism. For almost as long, it
has charged the Ba'athist regime in Syria with providing safe haven to notorious
terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia spawned not only Osama
bin Laden and 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, but the petrodollars and Wahhabi fanaticism
that have long sustained the terror mills. Regime change in Tehran, Damascus,
and Riyadh is essential to the eradication of Middle East terrorism. It is
time the administration began saying so explicitly.
How best to effect that change is a question for the experts. It need not necessarily
involve military force. Diplomatic and financial support for Iran's pro-American
democratic resistance, for example, might well be enough to topple the hated
mullahs who rule the country.
What is critical is to recognize that we are in a fight to the death. Either
America will destroy the terror masters or the terror masters will keep destroying
Americans. Two years after 9/11, let us strive to be like the heroes of Flight
93 to have the moral clarity to see what must be one, and the strength
of will to do it.
Facts and Logic About the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
Gerardo Joffe, President
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