Chuck Colson

There’s something sacred about a day on which three thousand innocent American civilians died in a barbaric terrorist attack. As I reflect again on that bright September morning just two years ago, a number of thoughts come to mind.

First, I’m reminded that evil is real. Through the nineties, we hung onto the utopian notion that history had come to an end, ushering in peace and happiness evermore. September 11 shattered that—and, thankfully, our worldview has become more realistic and more biblical since then.

Second, I remember that we’re in a war against terrorism that is, in some ways, more threatening than World War II—for, here, the enemy is disguised. But the terrorists have the same goal as our enemies at that time: the destruction of Western civilization. Read what Osama bin Laden and other Islamist activists have said. They’re not hiding their purpose. September 11, 2001, was a declaration of war against, not only the United States, but also the civilized world.

Our response was absolutely correct in the wake of September 11. We went to Afghanistanto break the back of the Taliban and deny al Qaeda its base of operations. It was clearly a just war, the only possible response to a deadly attack on American citizens. And it has turned out to be a huge setback for al Qaeda. We’ve been on the offensive ever since, and we’ve put them on the defense—the best military strategy there is.

What about Iraq? Iraq, as I have argued, is the second theater in the war on terrorism. The evidence makes it clear that Saddam has strong ties to terrorists. That includes the al Qaeda cell that operated in northern Iraq since June 2001 and is, in part, responsible for terrorism in Iraq today.

In recent days we’ve heard the chorus of the critics: “We didn’t plan well. We didn’t figure out what was going to happen after we attacked.” Well, let’s remember: Divisive criticism and any sign of turning away now can only fan the flames of Islamist fanaticism and terror.

Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s leading authorities on Islam, argues that Islamic radicals saw America’s responses to Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, and the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and our embassies in Africa as evidence that we would cut and run—even when attacked at home. Well, we didn’t, and now, in Iraq, we can’t. We’re not fighting terrorists in the streets of New York. Thank God. We’re fighting them in Iraq.

Our troops well understand the connection between their work and the September 11 attacks. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz wrote that when Christy Ferer, a September 11 widow, recently gave Gen. Tommy Franks a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center, “she saw this great soldier’s eyes well up with tears. Then, she watched as they streamed down his face on the center stage before 4,000 troops.” The general knows well why we fight that war.

We must never forget that fateful day. And we should remind our neighbors that in the face of anti-war rhetoric, we must demonstrate unity, strength, and resolve in the war on terrorism—or risk our national survival.


For further reading and information:

Read President Bush’s address on the war on terror (September 7). Read the president’s proclamation designating September 11 as Patriot Day and his call for national days of prayer and remembrance.

Robert L. Bartley, “Once Again: What We Learned,” Wall Street Journal, 8 September 2003.

‘The Central Front’,” Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2003.

Brendan Miniter, “Where Were You?Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2003.

Paul Wolfowitz, “Support Our Troops,” Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2003.

Deroy Murdock, “Endless September,” National Review Online, 9 September 2003.

Max Singer, “U.S. Can’t Afford to Lose,” National Review Online, 9 September 2003.

Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane, “Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds,” Washington Post, 6 September 2003, A01.

Stephen F. Hayes, “Saddam’s al Qaeda Connection,” Weekly Standard, 1 September 2003.

Mr. Gore’s Blurred View,” Washington Post, 10 August 2003, B06.

George Weigel, “Islam and democracy: the crucial questions,” Ethics and Public Policy Center, 24 July 2003.

The “9/11 Worldview Resource Kit” includes Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?: Understanding the Differences between Christianity and Islam by Dr. Timothy George and When Night Fell on a Different World: How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson. Also included is a “BreakPointWeekend Special” CD including two interviews with Charles Colson, who reflects on the impact and implications of the events of 9/11 on American society and the world.


Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
 
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