Friday, September 11, 2009
"The British are Coming!" "Remember the Alamo!" "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" "9/11"
All of these phrases are now burned by history into the collective American consciousness, automatically bringing us back to times when our nation was under attack right here on our own soil. However, the first three are actually a bit misleading in that regard. Neither the British attacks in the Revolutionary War, the Mexican attack in Texas, or the Japanese attack in Hawaii happened in an official state of the Union.
In the first, the United States was not a fully formed, world recognized, independent nation, but instead was fighting for some type of independence from the British empire. It shouted a warning among the American colonists that British troops were approaching, and is usually specifically related to the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It also hearkens us back to a time when British 'red coats' were firing on Americans, burning homes and businesses, and marching across the land that we now know as the United States of America.
The battle at the Alamo mission also was not fought on what was then technically United States soil, but was fought between the Republics of Mexico and Texas in the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. It was a decade before Texas would officially become a U.S. state. The Texian forces fighting for their independence from the Mexican government where vastly outnumbered, yet fought off the Mexican troops valiantly before finally being overrun and massacred. The incident rallied Texians to eventual victory, and ultimately to statehood.
Again, the Japanese sneak attack in Hawaii did not technically take place on an official state in the Union. On December 7th, 1941, Hawaii was an annexed American territory and the site of an extremely strategic naval base located at Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese bombs and kamakazi pilots virtually wiped out the American Pacific Naval fleet that morning, it not only sparked our entry into World War II, but also showed the importance of Hawaii to our interests, resulting in full statehood by 1959.
Most people alive today know full well of the events of 9/11 as they relate to more attacks on American soil, attacks this time on an official state (New York) as well as on the seat of our government (Washington, D.C.), along with a thwarted attack that ended in the loss of American lives in Pennsylvania.
Here in Philadelphia and along much of the American east coast, today is a dark, gloomy day on which the rain pours from the skies. I will refrain from talk of it being tears for the lives of the nearly 3,000 victims lost that day. The only reason that I point out the bleak weather conditions today is to relate how stark the contrast it is with that absolutely gorgeous late summer morning, now eight years ago.
America awoke and began it's commute to work on that Tuesday morning with little thought of the radical Islamic assault that was fully planned and already operational. Despite repeated threats and actual attacks leading up to that day, most Americans had their heads in the sand regarding men such as Osama bin Laden and groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda. We were virtually untouchable and absolutely indestructible as a nation. All that went away in just a couple of hours.
Despite the magnitude and suddeness of those attacks, the loss of all of those lives, the televised attacks on and collapse of the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, a jet airplane ramming through the core of our national defense at the Pentegon, the grounding of American air traffic for almost a week, and the subsequent wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan we seem to have learned little.
The radical Islamists who attacked us that morning were not representatives of any particular nation. We were not attacked that morning and at other times by Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran, or Libya, or Egypt, or any single Middle Eastern or Arabic nation or group of nations. We were attacked by radical groups operating within those nations who are inspired by the Koran and their faith to conquer the world on behalf of Islam.
In past wars and battles, whether fought to form the United States as with Britain, to expand the United States as with Mexico, or to defend the United States as with Japan the enemy was usually an easy to define nation-state. It had borders, populations, armies, resources, and allies that were usually easily definable. To win, you had to defeat the other guys in head-to-head physical combat. There was a measure of ideology that needed to be defeated as well, but ultimately if you won the physical battles and suppressed the enemy troops and their leaders, you were the clear winner.
I put it to you that it is no different now. We still need to win that physical battle. But as with those past conflicts, this is also a war of ideologies, and we must also win on that front to ever have a long-lasting peace. This war must be fought and won on two fronts, both of which we must be willing to support and sustain if we want to win.
On one hand we must support and sustain the ideological war that is raging within Islam itself. There are moderate forces within that religion, the 2nd largest on the planet with an influence over approximately 1.5 billion people, or almost 1 in every 5 people on the planet. The radical forces calling for that religion to control the world not only religiously, but also sociologically, financially, politically is growing. We must support in every way the forces within Islam that want to maintain it as a part of the whole where the world is concerned, not as a world domination ideology.
On the other hand, we must be willing to back that financial and rhetorical support up with our armed forces. The radical Islamist groups are heavily armed, well equipped, and train regularly. And their numbers and influence are growing, as is their technology. It is just a matter of time before nuclear weapons are in the hands of radical Islamic terrorist regimes. Once that happens, these groups will use these weapons to further their agenda in Israel, Europe, and here in America. Until such elements are effectively wiped out, we are going to have physical battles to fight.
There will be a number of remembrances across the country and around the world today on the 8th anniversary of those radical Islamic attacks on September 11th, 2001. There will be a few television programs this evening that will recall the events of that day. If you have not yet seen them, I can highly recommend four different films that you need to watch.
"9/11" was perhaps the best documentary on the day of the attacks, and is available by clicking on to the title of this article through Amazon. This and "United 93" are probably the two best films ever made to this point. "World Trade Center" is also a well made dramatic depiction of the New York attacks. Finally, the documentary film "Obsession" tells the full story of the radical Islamic problem across the world today.
9/11 was not the beginning of this world-wide ideological struggle, and we will not likely see the end any time soon, if ever. There will be further dates to remember, catch-phrases to live in infamy. Today we should remember those who lost their lives that day, as well as those who fought and continue to fight for victory in the continuing ideological struggle against the forces of radical Islam. Those forces are still out there, still bent on that same world domination, and the United States of America continues to stand as the best defense against their aggression.