From Issue #01-37
The United States of America is at war. A small group of Islamic terrorist hijacked four civilian aircraft within an hour Tuesday and exacted horrendous death and destruction as they flew two of the aircraft into the twin 110-story towers of New York's World Trade Center, a third airplane into one side of the Pentagon, and the fourth into the ground near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
There are between 7 and 15 thousand civilian casualties and as many as 500 military casualties.
The coordinated hijackings, from three different airports, were of planes full of fuel for cross country trips — suitable for use as guided bombs. And the targets were chosen for the maximum visual impact — the nation's most significant international symbols of economic and military power.
This momentous event, the worst terrorist attack in world history, caps the tragedy of years of appeasement of rogue nations and terrorists, appeasement that reached a zenith during the eight years of Bill Clinton's administration. As our friend George Will put it, "...[T]he nation's decade-long holiday from history came to a shattering end."
We can no longer attempt to define Muslim offenders by "international borders." These attacks on U.S. soil are the natural culmination of foreign policy negligence (as The Federalist often reminded Clinton often: "It's the foreign policy, stupid!"), declining military and intelligence capabilities, appeasement of Islamic terrorists, and a long span of tragically misguided blunders in Middle East diplomacy.
The real legacy of Bill Clinton was sketched in graphic images yesterday, across the skyline of Manhattan, before the eyes of the entire world. Clinton's DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said, "There are no partisans today, only patriots." But, to be sure, the partisans of yesterday have patriot blood on their hands today.
We reported two weeks ago, in Digest #01-35, on credible threats emanating from terrorists around the world, including this one from Illich Ramirez Sanchez, AKA "Carlos the Jackal," the infamous international terrorist from Venezuela now sidelined in a French jail: "The Yankee should beware, we know. The deceitful 'peace process' has come to a pitiful demise. People's resistance in Palestine, armed operations worldwide, are the alternative to surrender." Sanchez urged a "protracted people's war without boundaries," especially targeting U.S. interests.
Three weeks ago, Islamic cell leader Osama bin Laden was quoted by Arab news sources as saying that he was prepared to execute an "unprecedented" attack on U.S. soil. Tuesday's attack qualifies as "unprecedented." And most intelligence analysts, including those associated with The Federalist Editorial Board, have declared bin Laden the likeliest culprit.
Indeed, we provided bin Laden an easy target. Our military and intelligence structures have languished in the last decade to the extent that we failed to detect something as well organized and executed as this attack. Knowledgeable observers focused their criticism on the decay in our foreign policy, military and intelligence capabilities.
As the ancient military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu observed in his classic treatise The Art of War,
Bin Laden clearly understands this doctrine. For eight long years, our nation has ignored it. The price for such ignorance is now apparent.
Speaking to the nation early Tuesday, President George W. Bush said: "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended. I want to reassure the American people that the full resources of the federal government are working to assist the local authorities to save lives and to help the victims of these attacks. ...Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts...."
Indeed, the military LERTICON (alert condition) sequence moved to DefCon1 Delta at about 0930ET Tuesday — and remains at that highest state of war readiness at this writing.
Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush told the nation: "[We have] been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
"America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil.... These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.''
Wednesday morning, President Bush again reiterated that these attacks were "an act of war."
Attempting to understand yesterday's carnage, many have waged comparisons with "Pearl Harbor." Indeed, both attacks were against a sleeping giant, but he comparisons stop there. Pearl Harbor required the entire military resources of Japan. On December 7, 1941, the original "Day of Infamy," 353 Japanese planes attacked a military target killing 2,390 unprepared combatants.
The events we witnessed Tuesday required a hand full of airline tickets for Islamic zealots with some basic flight training and some sharp instruments. (You may recall that three of bin Laden's operatives on trial in New York earlier this year for their role in the East African embassy bombings, had pilot licenses.)
In the fresh blood of this predictable tragedy, we recall the words of President Ronald Reagan from 1983, reprinted in The Federalist last week, concerning how military budgets should be determined. His words are poignant at this moment:
The foreign policy foundation of the Clinton administration allowed our military to decline, depending instead on the errant parameters of antiquated international laws and United Nations doctrine. Unlike the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush(41), Clinton pulled our punches and appeased terrorists. His regime, in effect, filed the flight plans for Tuesday's attacks. (And because the Senate is holding Mr. Bush's nominees hostage, the cognizant federal agencies with responsibility for our national security are still, largely, in the hands of that regime.)
We can't expect rogue nations and terrorist cells to abide by such laws and doctrines. We can't negotiate with the Muslim equivalent of Kamikaze pilots, whose only loyalty is to an erroneous notion that their bloody martyrdom will lead to eternal life. We can only kill them.
So where do we go from here? Sun Tzu also noted: "He will win who has military capacity."
Until 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, Leftists on Capital Hill were attacking President Bush for his plans to rebuild our military capacity. But as security policy analyst Frank Gaffney notes: "This should put an end to discussion of funding our defense budget at levels inadequate to deal with two major contingencies simultaneously. We now have one at home; how long will it be before we have one elsewhere?"
Mr. Bush will be pressured by the Left to take the position that Tuesday's assault on our nation was a "crime" rather than an act of war — limited to the actions of a few. We take strong exception to this position. Tuesday's events were, indeed, and act of WAR. While Congress fumbles around with resolutions of condemnation, President Bush must call for a declaration of war against bin Laden — and any nation providing him safe harbor. Our nation's third president declared war against the Barbary pirates — bandits without borders — so there is already historic precedent.
In response to the slaughter of our fellow citizens — thousands of innocent non-combatants — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich concluded, "I don't want to bring them to justice. I want to defeat them." It is The Federalist's position that we should give nation's which harbor terrorists the same advance warning we gave Hiroshima — and let fly. We must to turn the sands of Afghanistan into molten glass — NOW — and let bin Laden's other host nations know that our actions against Afghanistan were only the first volley of fire. (Interestingly, after Russia's protracted war in Afghanistan, bombing that rogue regime into oblivion might get a quiet diplomatic nod.)
In retrospect, as our nation processes the shock and visual images of Tuesday's attacks, we offer a grim set of bearings — nothing has changed here, beyond the fact that the terrorists have now drawn more blood ... much more blood. We have been at this state of war with Islamic terrorists for 25 years now. We have been an especially blessed nation, in that we have staved off such planned attacks in the past. But the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center should have been a wakeup call — but it was not. Tuesday, terrorist murderers succeeded where others have failed, because they got through our greatly diminished military and intelligence capability.
In regard to what we can do as citizens — support President Bush's effort to rebuild our military and intelligence capabilities. Support his efforts to establish a viable missile defense system to protect our nation from the high frontier of terror that will soon be available for rogue states and their surrogate actors.
Additionally, although we have weathered the most dangerous 24 hours after the initial assault, our nation could still suffer second tier attacks against civilian power grids and water systems in coming days — an effort to further demoralize our people and undermine our resolve. As we advised, in our three part series in advance of the Y2K, the preparations we were undertaking as a nation then were more important to surviving the "ripple effect" of terrorist events, than to the clock turn. Supply lines, economic transactions, electric and electronic grids are all so centralized that we are all at some risk — what hits New York can be felt in Los Angeles and all points between, so we call once again for all Americans to maintain a level of civil preparedness for such tragic events. Tuesday's attacks were the opening rounds — not the closing rounds of this war.
And last, we were touched by the sight of Members of Congress assembled on the Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon singing "God Bless America." Let us all join in that chorus!
— PUBLIUS —
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
13 sep 2001