September 22, 2011
What can I say that hasn’t been said?
Ten years ago this month, some Muslims hijacked planes and crashed them into both towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. Passengers in a fourth hijacked plane learned what was going on from friends, by cell phone, and fought back, losing their lives but saving untold others when the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
I remember reading an account in Time of a recording from one of the flights, in which the hijackers were heard to say “God is great” before they did what they did. Even in that awful context, and even as irreligious as I was at the time, I was able to recognize the germ of something good in their habitual invocation. (The following year, by God’s grace, I converted to a very different religion from theirs, and learned not only to praise Him as great but also to serve Him, and my fellow man, in love.)
I recommend Mark Steyn’s observations in America Alone (pages 183-186) about September 11th, big government, and free citizens.
Other than that, here are some readings I recommend if you have time:
Mark Steyn reflects on how a self-hating Western culture reflects on such attacks, and on civilizational decline: “A great power can survive a lot of things, but not ‘a mediocrity of spirit’.” (The latter link will expire, but is an excerpt from his latest book; you’ll have it with you always if you buy After America.)
As Robert Costa reports, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remembers working in the Pentagon when the plane struck, and offers some thoughts on what has happened since. “‘What we are really engaged in here is a battle that is not going to be won with bullets, but with ideas over time,’ he says. ‘We have to do a much better job of competing in the marketplace of ideas . . . .’” Army Captain Pete Hegseth, who was in college when the attack struck, eloquently discusses what has happened and where we go from here:
We mustn’t be afraid to champion the American experiment in our schools, churches, businesses, and communities.
. . .
History isn’t over, and despite efforts to overcome the human condition . . . America’s military still carries the burden of liberty amidst a fallen world — we remain the last, best hope. If not me today, and my son tomorrow, then who?
Accomplished prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains how political correctness makes it more difficult to gather intelligence on Islamists and prevent terrorism. He calls our attention to a study suggesting that an astonishing 80% of mosques in America promote violent jihad. (More than half of the mosques studied disseminate “severe” pro-violence literature, while “30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence”. Oh, OK.)
Charles Krauthammer repudiates the “conventional wisdom” that “We overreacted to 9/11”. Among other things, he reminds us that our invasion of Afghanistan was universally supported at the time, even by Democrats, and observes,
The total costs of “the two wars” is $1.3 trillion. That’s less than one eleventh of the national debt, less than one year of Obama deficit spending. During the golden Eisenhower 1950s of robust economic growth averaging 5 percent annually, defense spending was 11 percent of GDP and 60 percent of the federal budget. Today, defense spending is 5 percent of GDP and 20 percent of the budget. So much for imperial overstretch.
Yes, we are approaching bankruptcy. But this has as much to do with the War on Terror as do sunspots. Looming insolvency comes not from our shrinking defense budget but from the explosion of entitlements. They devour nearly half the federal budget.