The United States at war

Posted: Sep 19, 2001 12:00 AM
Make no mistake: America is at war. We have been attacked by a fanatical and radically perverted version of Islam that seeks to destroy our nation and western civilization. We must resist it by every means at our disposal militarily, diplomatically and politically. That will require building a worldwide coalition of forces - including the vast majority of Arabs and Islam believers who reject this perversion of the third great religion of Abraham - to drive this scourge from the face of the Earth, starting by destroying the cells in place everywhere, including our own nation, today. When Adolf Hitler said in "Mein Kampf" that he intended to exterminate the Jews, the world did not listen. We had better listen to Osama bin Laden and take his words seriously, or his jihad will destroy us and all we hold dear. On Feb. 23, 1998, the World Islamic Front for Jihad - a nongovernmental umbrella organization of fanatical Islamic groups, led by bin Laden - declared war on the United States, saying "to kill the Americans and their allies, civilian and military, is an individual duty ... and we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can." The first step is for Congress to pass a formal declaration of war against the totality of the global Islamic terror network and foreign nations sponsoring, harboring or supporting individuals and entities at war with the United States. This action is necessary to mobilize our resources and galvanize the long-term commitment of the American people to this grave undertaking. There is no effective defense against enemies anxious to die in the name of Allah; there is only offense to destroy the cells of terror before they destroy us. The "grievances" the Islamic world may have against us, whether imagined, manufactured or real - such as our mindless daily bombing campaign of Iraq - do not explain the fanatical jihad against western civilization we are seeing unfold. It is not what we have done but who we are and what we stand for that prompts it. A significant share of Islam's youth in the radical fundamentalist countries and communities are being indoctrinated into the "supreme and divine" value of suicide jihad missions to destroy "the Great Satan." These soldiers of militant Islam cannot be deterred, appeased, assuaged or recompensed. They can only be stopped in their tracks and their terrorist sway eradicated. In some Islamic countries, this fundamentalist tumor remains small and benign and can be removed. In other cases, it may have metastasized throughout the body politic. A central component of our diplomatic and military strategy to combat the fundamentalist Islamic jihad must be to help those Islamic states willing to do so to rid themselves of the cancer with minimal U.S. presence. However, we must also stand prepared, if necessary, to do the job ourselves in those countries already consumed beyond hope. No less than Nazism, fundamentalist militant Islam is incompatible with civilized and democratic societies. That's why an integrated diplomatic campaign backed up with political and economic assistance is so essential to accompany the military campaign, lest the Taliban of Afganistan replicate itself throughout the Islamic world. We are not at war with Arabs or the millions of peaceful believers in Islam. Indeed, they must be our allies in combating this odious and evil perversion of their religion. We must start to win the peace even as we wage the war so we can bring our troops home and not leave them as a festering thorn in the body and spirit of Islam. That can only be done by helping our Arab allies bring democracy and freedom to the Islamic ... indeed the whole ... world, to give people hope so they are not driven through hate and despair into the arms of the radical militants. Before it was possible to end segregation in the United States, American "whites" had to renounce racism, enact civil rights laws and stand shoulder to shoulder with African-Americans to bring about integration and equality under the law. So, too, must the peace-loving Muslims of the world, especially American Muslims, affirmatively renounce militant fundamentalist Islam. We do not know at this time what it will take to defeat this wave of fanaticism, but we must gird ourselves for a long and costly struggle, both on our own soil and wherever these forces of evil hide and prepare abroad to wage war against us. In his first words as prime minister, Winston Churchill offered Britain "blood, toil, tears and sweat." We can demand no less of ourselves in the days and years ahead. And when we are tempted to yield to despair, we should recall Churchill's admonition during Britain's darkest hour: "Never give in - never, never, never, never. ... Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." It is as relevant today as it was then, for the times require no less.