On Terror: Quotations

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Oct 05, 2006 12:00 AM
On Terror: Quotations

Quotations past and present regarding terror in the here-and-now....

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, in a 1984 speech: "We must reach a consensus in this country that our responses [to terrorism] should go beyond passive defense to consider means of active prevention, pre-emption, and retaliation. The question posed by terrorism involves our intelligence capability, the doctrine under which we would employ force, and most important of all our public's attitude toward this challenge."

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Columnist and former leftist Christopher Hitchens: "Anyone who lost their 'innocence' on September 11 was too naïve by far, or too stupid to begin with. On that day, we learned that clerical fanaticism means to fight a war which can only have one victor.... The first duty, therefore, is one of solidarity with bin-Ladenism's other victims and targets, from India to Kurdistan....'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 [before 9/11/2001], 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. Come to think of it, perhaps we were a bit 'innocent' after all."

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Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11: "This heinous attack upon America was an attack upon us all. With America, Britain stands in the front line against Islamist fanatics who hate our beliefs, our liberties, and our citizens. We must not falter. We must not fail....We need to renew our resolve that, however bitter or lengthy the struggle, this evil shall not prevail."

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British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We used to feel we could shut our front door on the problems and conflicts of the wider world. Not anymore. Not when suicide bombers born and bred in Britain bring carnage to the streets of London in the name of religion....

"If we retreat now, hand Iraq over to al-Qaida and sectarian death squads, and Afghanistan back to al-Qaida and the Taliban, we won't be safer. We will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril."

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President Bush: "To suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September 11. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside [Afghanistan]. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

"My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives....They've got all kinds of excuses.

"This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland. We're not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. The best way to protect America is to defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war."

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Lee Kuan Yew, minister mentor of Singapore: "To stop the increase in terrorist recruits, the U.S. and Europe must discredit extremist ideology, which takes Koranic passages out of context, preaches hatred against non-Muslims, and seeks to spread Islam through violence. Muslims who want to be a part of the modern world of science and technology must confront and stop these Islamists from preaching violence and hatred. They must get the ulamas (Muslim scholars) and ustaz (religious teachers) to preach that Islam is a religion of peace, not terror, and that it is tolerant of other peoples and their faiths, as Muslim scholars have proudly asserted."

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Vice President Dick Cheney: "Part of my job is to think about the unthinkable, to focus upon what, in fact, the terrorists may have in store for us. [And the threat that drives this administration's thinking is] the possibility of a cell of al-Qaida in the midst of one of our own cities with a nuclear weapon, or a biological agent....If, on 9/11, they'd had a nuke instead of an airplane, you'd have been looking at a casualty toll that would rival all the deaths in all the wars fought by Americans in 230 years."

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Somali-born former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose adamant opposition to Islamism drove her from Holland into exile in the U.S.: "Many Europeans feel that a confrontation with Islamism will give the Islamists more opportunities to recruit - that confronting evil is counterproductive. They think that by appeasing them - allowing them their own ghettoes, their own Muslim schools - they will win their friendship. Many social democrats have this stereotype that the corporate world, the U.S., and Israel are the real evil. And [because] Islamists are also against Israel and America, [social democrats] sense an alliance with them....

"[But the fundamentally] lethal mistake is the confusion of Islam, which is a body of ideas, with ethnicity. [Yet Muslims] are responsible for their ideas. If it is written in the Koran that you must kill apostates, kill the unbelievers, kill gays - then it is legitimate and urgent to say, 'If that is what your God tells you, you have to modify it."

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Prime Minister Blair: "This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas - the poison that warps the minds of its adherents - are confronted head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd, their concept of governance pre-feudal, their positions on women and other faiths reactionary and regressive; and then, since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more - namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit of the Koran."

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Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute: "If you really want to understand the depth of Iranian hatred for those who challenge them, and the patience they show in carrying out their revenge, consider the amazing information that was published by the London Sunday Times in early April: 'Iraqi pilots who flew in Saddam Hussein's air force are being targeted by armed [Iranian] militias in an apparent witch-hunt against veterans who fought in the war against Iran two decades ago.' The Times said that 182 former [Iraqi] pilots and 416 senior [Iraqi] military officers had been killed by the beginning of 2006, and more than 800 such people had fled Iraq. Such a regime as Iran's does not undergo profound change. It just continues to kill all who challenge them."

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Rear Admiral David Nash (Ret.), former director of both the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office and the Project and Contracting Office: "It is important to point out that...a tremendous amount of work has been accomplished there. Men and women, civilians and military, are laboring honorably to serve the people of Iraq as well as our own country. To date, 3,000 projects - such as schools and water treatment facilities - have begun; 2,100 of those have been completed and are providing a better life for the Iraqis. This is a battle won through daily heroism and incremental improvements, both of which have a tendency to fly under the media radar."

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Fouad Ajami, author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq": "[When recently in Baghdad, President Bush took] the right message: a reaffirmation of the American commitment, mixed with a reminder that Iraq's salvation lies in the hands of its new government. The Arabs nearby will say, as they have, that the American leader traveled into an occupied country, that he did not venture beyond the Green Zone, that the place he visited was more his domain than [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nuri al-Maliki's. But President Bush called on an elected government, a rare plant in Arab soil. This new government should be strengthened by the promise of American resolve. But it should also take to heart that it is reckoning-time for Iraq's leaders; that it is their country, and their history, that lies in the balance.