Editor, John AndrewsPrincipled Ideas from the Centennial InstituteVolume 3, Number 12 • December 2011Publisher, William L. Armstrong
Brian T. Kennedy
is president of the Claremont Institute for the Study ofStatesmanship and Political Philosophy and publisher of its inuential quarterly,the
Claremont Review of Books
. An authority on national security affairs andballistic missile defense, he is a native Californian and a graduate of ClaremontMcKenna College.
sponsors research, events, and publications to enhancepublic understanding of the most important issues facing our state and nation.By proclaiming Truth, we aim to foster faith, family, and freedom, teach citizen-ship, and renew the spirit of 1776.
activities, instead of pursuing those policies that wouldmake Americans safer and better off. What was September 11 about? Did the membersof al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden, Khalid SheikhMohammed, and Ayman al-Zawahiri simply hate us? Or was September 11 the rst stage in a long war meant to testus, to demoralize us, and to see how we would respond? As we might have guessed, it was not the end of theirplanning, but the beginning. It was a probe.If you are going to make war or attack an enemy, sucha probe is a common tool of warfare. You want to see where your enemy is weakest and where he is strongest.Our enemies meant to test us. And for them the telling after-effect of their attack was not the patriotism and goodsense on display from so many everyday Americans, buthow long it took for our country to respond to the attack.
What the Attackers Learned
Even if it was quick by standards of the modernadministration of our military, look how long it took us togo into Afghanistan. Or look at the hand- wringing before going into Iraq, the case thathad to be made, and our tentative military action once we got there. We were not prepared—either militarily or intellectually—to strike back immediately in days, notmonths. We wanted to bring to justice only those directly responsible for these atrocities, as if they were criminaltransgressions and not acts of war.It is practically inconceivable that our mostly Saudi-bornattackers could have pulled off their brazen assault withoutstate sponsorship from the Saudi intelligence services. And yet we would not hold Saudi Arabia responsible. If September 11 was a probe to see how we would respond,those responsible learned that we would not go after them.
ARE WE WINNINGIN THE LONG WAR OF OUR TIME?
By Brian T. Kennedy
At sunset on Sept. 12, 2011, friends from the campus and community gathered on CCU’s central quad to reect on lessons of the decade since jihadists struckthe U.S. homeland. This was the keynote address:
The September 11 commemorations came and went thisyear with remarkably little controversy. As in the days afterthe initial attack, there was more effort spent mourning thedead than sorting out what should be done for the living.If September 11, 2001, marked the start of a long war yetto be won, it would be useful ten years hence to understand what will achieve victory. For it appears that the attack onthat day has been misunderstood by America’selites, who have yet to make sense of it. At one level this is understandable. Humanbeings have a tremendous capacity forgiving others the benet of the doubt—we Americans especially so. After September 11 we tried desperately to either believethat we had no enemies, or that if we did, those enemiesposed no existential threat to our way of life. It wasincumbent then upon President Bush, as it is now uponPresident Obama, to dissuade us of this folly, and to put usin a position of strategic superiority against our very realand very determined enemies, with clarity of purpose.
Did Our Strategy Leave Us Safer?
The essence of strategy is to be better off after engaging in whatever policies and actions are undertaken. AfterSeptember 11 it was incumbent on the U.S. government toengage in a strategy that would leave us safer than we werebefore the attack.Instead, we did our best to accept and absorb the attack and to nd ways to understand our enemies. We engagedin often meaningless military, security, or diplomatic
We tried tobelieve that wehad no enemies.