Principled Ideas from the Centennial Institute Volume 3, Number 12 • December 2011

Publisher, William L. Armstrong Editor, John Andrews

By Brian T. Kennedy
At sunset on Sept. 12, 2011, friends from the campus and community gathered on CCU’s central quad to reflect on lessons of the decade since jihadists struck the U.S. homeland. This was the keynote address: The September 11 commemorations came and went this year with remarkably little controversy. As in the days after the initial attack, there was more effort spent mourning the dead than sorting out what should be done for the living.

activities, instead of pursuing those policies that would make Americans safer and better off. What was September 11 about? Did the members of al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Ayman al-Zawahiri simply hate us? Or was September 11 the first stage in a long war meant to test us, to demoralize us, and to see how we would respond? As we might have guessed, it was not the end of their planning, but the beginning. It was a probe. If you are going to make war or attack an enemy, such a 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 good sense on display from so many everyday Americans, but how long it took for our country to respond to the attack.

What the Attackers Learned If September 11, 2001, marked the start of a long war yet Even if it was quick by standards of the modern to be won, it would be useful ten years hence to understand administration of our military, look how long it took us to what will achieve victory. For it appears that the attack on go into Afghanistan. Or look at the handthat day has been misunderstood by America’s We tried to wringing before going into Iraq, the case that elites, who have yet to make sense of it. had to be made, and our tentative military At one level this is understandable. Human believe that we action once we got there. beings have a tremendous capacity for had no enemies. We were not prepared—either militarily giving others the benefit of the doubt—we or intellectually—to strike back immediately in days, not Americans especially so. months. We wanted to bring to justice only those directly After September 11 we tried desperately to either believe responsible for these atrocities, as if they were criminal that we had no enemies, or that if we did, those enemies transgressions and not acts of war. posed no existential threat to our way of life. It was It is practically inconceivable that our mostly Saudi-born incumbent then upon President Bush, as it is now upon attackers could have pulled off their brazen assault without President Obama, to dissuade us of this folly, and to put us state sponsorship from the Saudi intelligence services. in a position of strategic superiority against our very real And yet we would not hold Saudi Arabia responsible. If and very determined enemies, with clarity of purpose. September 11 was a probe to see how we would respond, Did Our Strategy Leave Us Safer? those responsible learned that we would not go after them. The essence of strategy is to be better off after engaging Brian T. Kennedy is president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of in whatever policies and actions are undertaken. After Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and publisher of its influential quarterly, September 11 it was incumbent on the U.S. government to the Claremont Review of Books. An authority on national security affairs and engage in a strategy that would leave us safer than we were ballistic missile defense, he is a native Californian and a graduate of Claremont McKenna College. before the attack. Instead, we did our best to accept and absorb the attack and to find ways to understand our enemies. We engaged in often meaningless military, security, or diplomatic
Centennial Institute sponsors research, events, and publications to enhance public understanding of the most important issues facing our state and nation. By proclaiming Truth, we aim to foster faith, family, and freedom, teach citizenship, and renew the spirit of 1776.

Nabeel Qureshi, a Pakistani-American doctor who converted from Islam to Christianity, warned the Sept. 12 gathering about sharia law as a threat to our liberties. His wife, a U.S. Coast Guard officer, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

and Marines to the brink, and had to use the National Guard to do the work that regular armies should do. We spent money on military deployments and armaments to fight small, annoying wars so that people in the Middle East—however loathsome to one another—could not harm us here at home. But we haven’t stopped Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons that could destroy us or our ally Israel. Nor have we built missile defenses to stop ballistic missiles that could be launched at us from ships off the coast of the United States.

What should they think of us when we announced so quickly that Islam is a religion of peace, or when the president told the country not to sacrifice but to go shopping?

They learned that political correctness was more important Nor did we engage Iran when they built munitions to us than understanding the true nature of our enemy. and sponsored attacks against our troops in Iraq and That looking like good multiculturalists meant more to us Afghanistan. We knew—that is, George Bush and now than admitting that maybe—just maybe—there Barack Obama knew—they were killing is something about the tenets of Islam that Are we better Americans with IEDs and mortars. We knew. makes it fundamentally irreconcilable with the off now than They knew we knew. Every nation in the Middle Judeo-Christian West. East plus Russia and China knew. And they all before 9/11? watched us do nothing. And how else could the election of liberal anti-war candidate Barack Obama appear— Or not quite nothing. We did engage in a massive campaign whatever John McCain’s shortcomings—than as a sign of to democratize Iraq and bring order to Afghanistan, as if our demoralization and exhaustion only a few years into the very promise of democracy would be enough to deal the war? with Iran and Saudi Arabia. As for going shopping, the real economic lesson after A Strategic Distraction September 11 was that the day’s dire consequences, which Without going into all the flaws, let me say that we are should have signaled we were at war, didn’t lead to more trying to bring democracy to people who do not believe sensible policies for taxing our corporations so they would in religious liberty—the cornerstone of any decent be competitive in the world, or policies for sound money democratic order—and who have little experience with so that no real estate bubble would have been created such institutions. And in Afghanistan, we are trying to and then burst, or environmental and labor policies that bring order to a tribal people who have rebelled from such wouldn’t create a bias against manufacturing and sap the order since Alexander the Great. middle class’s ability to create wealth. Nor have we punished the people who made possible the Test after Test attacks—the Saudis. We have failed to engage in energy On purely economic grounds, if this were a test to see policies that would make us less dependent on them and how we would react, one could be forgiven for thinking make them less rich. We have failed to punish them in this was another test we failed. Thinking we weren’t at war, such a way that they will not support the spread of Islam America’s elites pursued policies that led ultimately to the in the U.S. economic collapse of 2007-08, the results of which we are Instead of punishing our enemies so they would not attack struggling with today. us again any time soon, we showed the world that we were We have also failed the test of September 11 by allowing willing to make September 11 a strategic distraction, rather depletion of the strength we need to fight wars here and than the occasion for a strategic improvement of our abroad. Despite being engaged in military conflict, we position in the world. scaled back our Air Force and Navy, stretched our Army
CENTENNIAL REVIEW is published monthly by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. The authors’ views are not necessarily those of CCU. Designer, Danielle Hull. Illustrator, Benjamin Hummel. Subscriptions free upon request. Write to: Centennial Institute, 8787 W. Alameda Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226. Call 800.44.FAITH. Or visit us online at Please join the Centennial Institute today. As a Centennial donor, you can help us restore America’s moral core and prepare tomorrow’s leaders. Your gift is tax-deductible. Please use the envelope provided. Thank you for your support. - John Andrews, Director
Scan this code with your smartphone to read this and previous issues online. Centennial Review, December 2011 ▪ 2

Vo ices of CCU

No Mere Tragedy Disturbingly, however, what Americans seemed to understand as a long and deadly-serious war 10 Septembers ago is now too often misunderstood as nothing more than one horrific day of terror, trauma, and tragedy. This must not be. The consequences of 9/11 were tragic in terms of the lives lost, the economic cost, the emotional cost, the compromising of civil liberties. But the event we commemorate a decade later was no mere tragedy. A tragedy is something that just happens—the result of fate or bad luck or bad judgment. The 9/11 attack did not just happen. It was a heinous atrocity brought to our shores by a determined enemy. It was a deliberate and unprovoked act of war by forces with a definite address and an agenda of total conquest, total world domination. Does America remember that and realize that, today in 2011?

By John Andrews
Presiding at the Sept. 12 ceremony, Centennial Institute director John Andrews gave this introduction: On the second Tuesday in September ten years ago, Islamist fighters from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, trained in Afghanistan by the al-Qaeda revolutionary organization under Osama Bin Laden, took over four U.S. airliners and turned them into missiles of war for an attack on New York City and Washington, D.C.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center, symbolizing American free enterprise, were of America unfortunately do not. But We have not PartsChristian university and this assembly destroyed. The Pentagon, symbolizing this American military might, was gravely damaged. forgotten. of wide-awake citizens do remember. We A direct hit on the United States Capitol or the have not forgotten and will never forget White House, which would have decapitated American why 9/11 happened, what 9/11 cost, what 9/11 still self-government, was narrowly averted by the heroism of demands of us. passengers on board Flight 93. The most fitting way to honor the dead and keep What Did It Mean? their memory alive is by living worthily of them. This means, above all, focusing our minds and devoting our The strike was brilliantly planned and barbarically energies and uniting our purpose in such a way as to executed. It hit us like a lightning bolt from a clear sky. keep America alive. ■ Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven lives were lost that day. Many of them were massacred unawares, but many others died in sacrificial efforts of resistance or rescue, with acts of magnificent courage. Thousands of families mourned the loss of loved ones. The nation’s anger was roused, but our confidence was also shaken. Voices of self-doubt and self-reproach were heard among our own elites. Voices of condemnation from Muslim leaders were hesitant and few. Street mobs celebrated in the home countries of the 9/11 attackers. What did it all mean? Some Americans said it meant we had cultural fences to mend and yet another criminal justice job to do. But most Americans understood it meant we were at war. Arguably, that war had been going on in one-sided fashion against us from the Islamists since at least 1979, when the U.S. embassy in Iran was seized. The war continues today—punctuated by progress in Iraq, progress in Afghanistan, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and more than 60 intended or actual jihadist attacks upon the U.S. homeland over the past 3,600 days.

Centennial Review, December 2011 ▪ 3

Centennial Review
December 2011

Centennial Institute
Colorado Christian University 8787 W. Alameda Ave. Lakewood, CO 80226
Return Service Requested

Are We Winning in the Long War of Our Time? By Brian T. Kennedy A decade after 9/11, our enemies may well think America is failing the test set for us when the towers fell. Iraq and Afghanistan were distractions. The greater threat is from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, China, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Only with moral and strategic clarity can the United States achieve victory.

Are we better off now than we were before September 11? There is now an Islamic cancer spreading across the United States. Islam—the operational ideology of those who attacked us—is an enemy that we still do not understand. Nor have we defeated it, or put it in its place. However much we wish it were so, Islam is not a religion of peace. While Americans fight abroad to democratize Iraq and Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States seeks to destroy us from within. Jihad Within They are waging cultural and political jihad within our own country because they believe Islam is the rightful religion to be imposed someday on the United States. We, on the other hand, choose to pretend that Islam is fundamentally peaceful, and turn the other way.

Israel, and all that the West represents. Even if our leaders understood this threat, they lack the courage to say anything. Moral and Strategic Clarity There are times in our partisan politics when we do not say the things that should be said for fear of alienating our political allies. But that does a great disservice to the American people and the moral clarity they must have if we are to send their children off to fight and die in our wars.

Our law enforcement community and homeland It security have frustrated many attacks. But our enemies also know that a direct assault will unite us, so they slowly grow their population, This will mean recognizing that, as a superpower victor. develop greater political influence, and trust that dedicated to human freedom, we will always our political correctness will become ever more enervating. have enemies that seek our destruction. We must recognize The last thing we Americans want is a real enemy. that war is part of man’s fallen nature and that in war it is not merely desirable, but essential, to be the victor. Yet, we have enemies and always will. We are a superpower. The world alliance of Russia and communist China will continue to seek to marginalize our influence. They may not today seek our total destruction. But the Russians, who are energy rich, prosper in an era of Islamic terrorism—for it makes uncertain the price of oil which enriches them. September 11 was good for them. China, which needs America for now to buy its goods, does not want us for this reason to be completely destroyed, but it relishes our preoccupation with our Islamic problem. For this reason it fosters relations with Iran and help with its nuclear program, as does Russia. Russia and China foster the hatred of the United States,
Centennial Review, December 2011 ▪ 4

For the American people to have moral clarity, their leaders must have strategic clarity. Today, we must recover an American Strategy that puts the interests of the American people first, that makes the United States the preeminent military power in the world, that puts fears in the hearts of our enemies, and that demoralizes these is essential enemies so they will think it hopeless to attack to be the us or our allies.

In our time this means defeating the cause of Islam as a world power, denying to the Russians and the Chinese this proxy, and caring little for the well being of anyone but the United States and our true allies.

This is a big task, but not one beyond the abilities of a free people, and certainly not one beyond the genius of the American people. ■

Centennial Institute
Colorado Christian University

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful