Rice made this point with a brief history lesson. She noted this country's failure to properly assess German intentions until two years after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. The United States did not enter the war until 1917. Apparently we learned nothing from history, so it was repeated when the Nazi regime regularly violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. Further provocations throughout the 1930s, she noted, did not provoke a response from the Western democracies, further emboldening Hitler. Only after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 did the West begin to act. It was the same with Japan, she said. Despite numerous signals of a growing threat, the United States failed to respond until Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.
More important than who saw what memos and when, or what intelligence was seen by whom and why it was not acted upon, is the war in which we are currently engaged. There is enough bipartisan blame to pass around. The question is, does blaming anyone prevent or reduce the likelihood of another attack? The answer is that it does not.
The terror cells are among us. They await opportunity and instruction. They must be located and destroyed.
"We are at war, and our security as a nation depends on winning that war," Rice told the commission. She ought to be believed, and if we do believe her, we had better make sure that those who mean us harm - whether in America or abroad - are eliminated before they strike again. That's what war is. Anything less is surrender. Rice made her case with great authority. Our future demands that we heed her.
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