Ross Mackenzie

In geopolitics, the raising up of an ersatz moral equivalence induces inaction that invites defeat.

We currently hear these arguments from equivalence:

- Iran may be developing nuclear weapons, but we abide other South Asian countries possessing them - e.g., India and Pakistan.

- Iran voices grievances against the West, but given the West's miserable record in the Middle East, many of those grievances are justified.

- Iran says it intends to rub Israel off the map, but Israel is the fundamental cause of Middle Eastern conflict.

So let us accept Iranian nuclearization and work through diplomacy to settle whatever grievances Iran may have.

As in few other periods before, events of the past 10 days have conspired to draw a picture of the future for an inactive, unresponsive West in a morally equivalent hour.

On April 12, jurors weighing the fate of Zacarias Moussaoui heard segments from the flight recorder of United Flight 93. On 9/11, jihadists hijacked the plane and intended to fly it into the Capitol. As passengers stormed the cockpit, the jihadists turned the plane upside down and at 560 mph augured it into the Pennsylvania countryside. The recorder discloses sounds of heroism, anguish, desperation, grisly murderers at work, lives expiring and - to the end - macabre testimonies to the greatness of Allah.

Gripping, even overwhelming, as that testimony from the dead may have been, Moussaoui himself overmatched it. He said he was supposed to hijack a plane on 9/11 and fly it into the White House.

Other choice Moussaoui courtroom utterances:

"God curse America" and - crooned to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." - "Burn in the U.S.A."

"God bless Osama bin Laden."

On accepting a suicide mission from Osama: "It was my pleasure."

On his feelings upon hearing witnesses testify about their pain and grief from losing loved ones on 9/11: "It made my day. . . . We want to inflict pain on your country."

In response to testimony from a witness who crawled to safety in the Pentagon: "It was pathetic. I was sorry that he survived."

"Burn all the Pentagon next time."

In response to a question whether he is "crazy": "Thank God I am not." And: Suicide bombing missions are "not crazy but based on Islam."

In response to whether, even if locked in a maximum-security prison, he would try to kill Americans: "Any time, anywhere."

In response to whether, if given a chance to fly a plane into a building occupied by Americans, he would do it as soon as tomorrow: "Today."


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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