Tags: Have | the | Guts | Win?

Do We Have the Guts to Win?

Tuesday, 12 September 2006 12:00 AM

I've been thinking about my reaction to the horror of 9/11 as it played out on my TV screen on that mournful day, and the way I reacted on Monday, 9/11/2006.

As I watched the tragedy unfold on that September morning in 2001, every emotion was put into suspension; my mind simply refused to accept the reality of what I was seeing. It simply was beyond anything I had ever experienced or even imagined. It was ... well ... unthinkable.

I clearly remember how I felt on December 7, 1941, and I had no trouble then grasping the fact that we had been attacked without warning and that many Americans were dead and most of our Pacific Fleet lay at the bottom of Battleship Row. It was not, after all, totally unexpected; war had been looming for a long time before Pearl Harbor day. It was not in my mind, therefore, beyond the realm of possibility, as was 9/11.

And I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt then exactly what it meant to me and what I would do. I was only 15 years old, but in two years I would be old enough to go to war.

On 9/11, however, I was in shock, struck dumb, and most of all horrified. These things just don't happen. Beyond that – nothing.

The sight of people plunging to their deaths and the sickening thump, thump, thump we heard as their bodies rained down on the roof above the lobby of the North Tower was just more than my mind could deal with. I don't recall any thoughts of who did this, why they did it, or how it could have happened, or what it meant to me, personally.

The collapse of both towers was the final blow. My mind told me it hadn't really happened; it could not have happened. But it did happen, and so in the end I did the best thing I could do – I took out my rosary and prayed, and left the rest up to God.

On Monday, as the nation recalled the first 9/11, my reactions were crystal clear and well-defined. As I watched the superb CBS documentary on 9/11, which the network replayed, I began to seethe with anger. Now we know who did this, now we know why, and we have a pretty good idea of how it happened when it did.

The horror I had felt at hearing those dreadful thumps as the bodies rained down, reflecting the desperation that led our trapped brothers and sisters to choose death by plunging 80 or 90 stories to their deaths rather than remain in the inferno slowly consuming them, was no longer numbing. It just plain enraged me. This was a crime of an unspeakable magnitude committed by a cadre of unspeakable killers ... killers who, if allowed, will add you, me, and everybody else in this blessed nation to their growing list of victims.

I'm not looking for vengeance – that's the sole prerogative of our Creator. It does, however make me want to do whatever I can do to support our nation in this war against radical Islam's drive to subjugate every human being on the face of the earth.

I'm angry at the fiends who were behind 9/11 – bin Laden and his band of murderous thugs – and I'm enraged by those of his minions and sympathizers who have no qualms about butchering their own people if it will advance their insane cause. Their vision of Allah is that of a vengeful god – a warrior who counts the killing of infidels and Muslims alike as signs of the worthiness of his worshippers to enter his peculiar paradise, where beautiful virgins are a dime a dozen and there for the asking.

I am also especially enraged at those among my fellow Americans who exploit the war in Iraq and the deaths of American men and women for their narrow political interests. They would willingly see America forced into a humiliating defeat in Iraq if only it will help them win control of the Congress in November. That, more than our national security, our national pride, the future of liberty in the world, and the peace and security of the Middle East, is all that matters.

In his extraordinary new book, "Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party," writing of Democrats' stand on the war on terror, columnist David Limbaugh put it this way: "It was almost as if they were rooting for America's defeat and humiliating withdrawal from Iraq, just for the deliciousness of discrediting President Bush." According to Limbaugh, Democrats protest being labeled as anti-American while celebrating people who are openly hostile to America.

Their deceptive line – that the war in Iraq and the war on terror are two separate conflicts – boggles rational minds. President Bush knows better, Osama bin Laden knows better, his al-Qaida killers in Baghdad know better – and so, in their own minds, do the saner among the Democrats; yet even they are still willing to distort the truth every which way if it will benefit them politically.

They reject the "cut-and-run" label as they argue that the U.S. troops must be "redeployed," their slick way of saying "cut and run." They forget that in the days after 9/11 the nation came together and pledged to fight the war forced on them on 9/11 by radical Islam – the war that President Bush warned then would last for a long, long time and require a steely determination on the part of the American people to see this thing through to a victorious conclusion.

That was five years ago. Americans have since grown war weary. And the Democrats have seized on that weariness as a weapon to demoralize them and sap their will to stick it out for as long as it takes.

Appearing on ABC's "The World Today" on Tuesday, former CIA Director James Woolsey laid it out: " I think that war will go on for decades, like the Cold War, hopefully just a few decades instead of many decades.

"But I don't think it's just a war on terrorism; I think it's a war on Islamist fanaticism, or fascism, if you prefer, and it won't really be over until the future of the Middle East is clearly tending in one direction or another, either toward chaos and dictatorship, or in the direction that we hope Afghanistan and Iraq can move, toward decent societies, the beginnings of rule of law and some degree of democracy."

He was echoed Tuesday night by President Bush, who put it bluntly:

"We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over – and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century – and determine the destiny of millions across the world."

War is not fun and games. It makes demands on everybody involved, from the men and women in the armed forces to the president and the nation's leaders, and to every American citizen. Winning a war requires steadfastness and a determination to prevail no matter how long it takes and how much blood, sweat, toil and tears it takes, as Churchill once put it.

Faced with the loss of tens of thousands of Britain's best men, suffering from a humiliating defeat that led to the withdrawal from the beaches of Dunkirk, a Nazi-occupied Europe and a demoralized British public, Winston Churchill stood before Parliament and defiantly pledged:

"... we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. ..."

The British people heard him and went on to endure years of endless bombings, food shortages, and, for many, the deaths of loved ones on the battlefield and destruction of home and hearth on their beleaguered island. And, despite it all, they prevailed.

Do we, the American people, have that kind of steely determination and willingness to fight on no matter what, until we prevail?

The Democrats are betting we don't. To them we're a bunch of gutless cowards.

Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for NewsMax.com. He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.


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I've been thinking about my reaction to the horror of 9/11 as it played out on my TV screen on that mournful day, and the way I reacted on Monday, 9/11/2006. As I watched the tragedy unfold on that September morning in 2001, every emotion was put into suspension;...
Tuesday, 12 September 2006 12:00 AM
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