Exhausted from working all night, one morning seven years ago, I crawled into bed. Just as I was slipping into sleep, the telephone rang. I groaned.
"Turn on the TV," my friend said. "America is under attack."
Like most Americans, I didn't get much sleep that day.
I fell into a deep funk, perhaps even a depression, in the weeks following September 11, 2001. To me we were in a war we did not have the will to win.
My reasoning went like this: In World War II we faced a totalitarian ideology that wanted to destroy the west. We went toe to toe with fascism and destroyed it instead. In the Cold War we faced another totalitarian ideology that wanted to destroy the west: communism. Although we were undermined by pragmatism on the right and anti-Americanism on the left, we managed to win in the long run because of the weakness of communism.
Now we face yet another totalitarian ideology that wants to destroy the west, Islam -- or Islamofascism, militant Islam, Islamicism, whatever (the fact that we still have not settled on a name for the enemy is symbolic of the mess we are in). Unlike fascism and communism, which are based on the idiotic economic fantasies of Karl Marx, Islam is more dangerous because it is based on religious fantasies that cannot be easily disproved in this world -- at least, not to those who place faith above reason. Our enemies are willing to blow themselves up to get to heaven.
The rise of the New Left, specifically of multiculturalism, has weakened, if not destroyed, our ability to fight and win. We cannot fight the Islamic threat because our intellectuals no longer believe America deserves to win. These were my thoughts in 2001, and seven years later I still think so.
We should have wiped all terrorist states off the face of the Earth within days of September 11, 2001. Every dictator in the Middle East should have been urinating in his bed at night, wondering if the next bomb would fall on him.
We didn't do that. If we had, we would have been asserting America's national self-interest. Altruism will not let us do that. Altruism demands that America sacrifice its self-interest for the rest of the world. Instead we bent over backward to form a coalition and to get the UN to support us in our fight against totalitarians who want to destroy us. We most timidly ensured the world that we will not strike out on our own in our self-defense. Absurdly, the left to this day criticizes Bush for going it alone, not using diplomacy and losing the world's respect. No amount of sacrifice and appeasement will satisfy the anti-American left.
Take the Iraq War, setting aside the fact that Iraq was the wrong country to attack and we should have gone after Iran. For years the Bush administration has undergone constant criticism because their reason for attacking Iraq was weapons of mass destruction -- stockpiles of which were never found.
But why did the Bush administration make weapons of mass destruction their cassus belli? Because they wanted the UN to support the invasion and that was the only possible pretext they could use to get UN backing. Bush could not say what he should have said, "We have the right to destroy any dictatorship that threatens us," because the UN is filled with dictatorships. Such an assertion of America's national self-interest is impossible in a world ruled by altruism.
Since then, the left has been using the failure to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to weaken America's will to wage further war. At this point, any widening of the war is probably impossible -- until we suffer another atrocity like September 11.
Because we have not fought the war seriously, as we did in WWII, our enemy still believes they can win. All they have to do is last long enough while our anti-American left destroys from within our will to wage war. It worked in Vietnam and Somalia; why shouldn't it work now?
According to Long War Journal,
Al Qaeda has reformed the notorious 055 Brigade, the Arab legion of al Qaeda fighters that was destroyed during the initial US assault in Afghanistan in late 2001.
The enemy is right: if they stick it out long enough, they will win. America no longer has the will to fight.
Tragically, we are waging a half-battle, and though our troops are doing a superb job, they are undermined by their leaders in Washington, D.C. When our warriors have to check with lawyers on the battlefield to get permission to escalate the level of force, that is not a serious war. When troops must stop at the Pakistan border and watch the enemy get away, that is not serious war. (Can you imagine Patton stopping at the border of, say, Yugoslavia because some State Department hand-wringers don't want to upset the rest of the world?)
The pragmatists, appeasers and anti-American leftists in Washington, D.C. would rather sacrifice American troops on the battlefield than anger the French.
Since 2001, the west's appeasement of Islam has made me more certain I am right in my pessimism. Bush refused to name the enemy. He called Islam a "religion of peace," a term that has become a joke on the internet. The cartoon controversy and the restrictions on free speech in Europe and Canada only show too well that the New Leftist west will commit suicide before it fights back seriously against Islam.
In the long-long run, I am more optimistic. A culture-wide change in philosophy -- a renaissance of reason -- will roll back the anti-industrial revolution on the left and the mysticism on the right. Once we regain the will to fight, the war will be easily won.
But until then, things will get worse before they get better.
(This post was written by request of Nick Provenzo, who wants this week's Objectivist Carnival to center around the theme of September 11.)