The podcast of new Townhall.com Weekend Journal, “The Day That Changed America” is available here. It features a number of clips from my broadcast that morning five years ago, as well as of the broadcasts of Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager and Michael Medved. Each of us instantly understood we were at war that morning, as did most Americans. Unlike some, we have not forgotten that fact.
The enemy that killed 3,000 Americans that day is still in the field, and its extraordinary reach is more and more obvious. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid writes in this morning’s Washington Post that the Islamists are in fact winning the war. The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright, (whose brilliant The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Path to 9/11 is this morning the number one seller at Amazon.com –a good sign, I think, of seriousness in the country) seems to dissent and writes in this week’s issue that al Qaeda’s “apocolpytic agenda is not shared by all Islamists,” and recounts the ruptures and divisions within the radicals’ camps. Wright is not an optimist opposed to Rashid’s pessimism, but a good reporter who lays out the vast defeats al Qaeda has suffered in the years since 9/11, as well as its various plans on how to regroup and strike again.
The Islamic radicals we are fighting know they are far less wealthy and far less advanced in technology and weaponry than the United States and our allies. But they believe they will prevail in this war by wearing us down and breaking our will. They believe America and the West are soft, irresolute, and decadent. “[Americans are] the most cowardly of God’s creatures,” al-Zarqawi once said.
This is a mistake other enemies of liberty have made in the past. They believed America and the West could not prevail against the ruthlessness and iron discipline of totalitarian enemies. But what our enemies, and sometimes even our own people, forget are the inherent strengths of free societies. Liberty is the design of human nature – and therefore freedom leads to human flourishing and human excellence. It produces men and women who deeply love their country and will rise in defense of it.
“We”–and our allies–simply have to become more ruthless and more experienced. An unspoken advantage of the current awful strife in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it is training tens of thousands of our young officers and soldiers to fight on the worst imaginable terrain, and gradually to learn how to confront, infiltrate, “turn,” isolate and kill the worst imaginable enemy. These are faculties that we shall be needing in the future. It is a shame that we have to expend our talent in this way, but it was far worse five years and one day ago, when the enemy knew that there was a war in progress, and was giggling at how easy the attacks would be, and “we” did not even know that hostilities had commenced.
Much work remains to be done