One of my libertarian friends was objecting to the 9/11 memorial being conducted today. So I decided to re-post a VERY old post I wrote in February 2009 when I was just starting out blogging. In it, I explain why I became so conservative on foreign policy after 9/11. Watching the response of the secular left and libertarians to the attack (blame America and praise terrorists) turned me into a hawk.
Democrats have a reputation for not taking defense and counter-terrorism seriously. According to this post over at the American Thinker, the 9/11 tragedy was mostly due to a failure in intelligence caused by a “wall” between different intelligence-gathering organizations.
Gorelick, an appointee of Bill Clinton, is the one who constructed the wall of separation that kept the CIA and the FBI from comparing notes and therefore invading the privacy of nice young men like, say, Muhammed Atta and Zacarius Moussaoui. While countless problems were uncovered in our intelligence operations in the wake of 9-11, no single factor comes close to in importance to Jamie Gorelick’s wall.
In fact, it was Gorelick’s wall, perhaps more than any other single factor, that induces some people to blame Clinton himself for 9-11 since he appointed her and she acted consistent with his philosophy of “crime fighting.” She put the wall into place as Deputy Attorney General in 1995.
Now let’s see how a Republican president responded to a terrorist attack.
George W. Bush
George W. Bush’s bold action abroad gave us 7 years free from terrorist attacks on American assets. If there is one thing that deters future attacks, it is military invasions of countries that support and/or harbor terrorists. They understand military force. For Bush, one terrorist attack was enough to get us to respond with force.
As a result of the Bush doctrine of invading states suspected of developing and/or proliferating WMDs, Libya discontinued its weapons program and invited inspectors to come in and cart away all of its research equipment. That was the Bush doctrine – which Libya believed only because they saw that we were willing to back up our demands with force. We can have peace if our enemies believe that we have the will to go to war, and that our enemies fear that they will lose that contest.
Contrast George W. Bush’s immediate response to terrorism with Democrat Bill Clinton. According to Byron York, we had four terrorist attacks during Clinton’s presidency.
So Clinton talked tough. But he did not act tough. Indeed, a review of his years in office shows that each time the president was confronted with a major terrorist attack — the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers attack, the August 7, 1998, bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole — Clinton was preoccupied with his own political fortunes to an extent that precluded his giving serious and sustained attention to fighting terrorism.
How did Clinton respond to these four attacks? According to this interview with Richard Miniter, President Clinton was much less aggressive than Bush was, during his two terms. Bush’s administration did not fear public opinion, but Clinton’s administration did. Miniter lists sixteen of the Clinton administration’s failures to treat terrorism as a serious threat. Below, I cite my favorites. Read the whole list!
Lopez: In sum, how many times did Bill Clinton lose bin Laden?
Miniter: Here’s a rundown. The Clinton administration:
[…]4. Did not militarily react to the al Qaeda bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
[…]7. Objected to Northern Alliance efforts to assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.
8. Decided against using special forces to take down bin Laden in Afghanistan.
[…]11. Clumsily tipped off Pakistani officials sympathetic to bin Laden before a planned missile strike against bin Laden on August 20, 1998. Bin Laden left the camp with only minutes to spare.
12-14. Three times, Clinton hesitated or deferred in ordering missile strikes against bin Laden in 1999 and 2000.
15. When they finally launched and armed the Predator spy drone plane, which captured amazing live video images of bin Laden, the Clinton administration no longer had military assets in place to strike the archterrorist.
16. Did not order a retaliatory strike on bin Laden for the murderous attack on the USS Cole.
When you look at the facts, we begin to understand why Democrats perform so poorly on national security issues.
Peace Through Strength
Republicans, on the other hand, believe in peace through strength.
In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength.” During his two terms he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.
I’ve been reading a lot about the run up to World War 2 lately. And what I discovered was that leading figures in the governments of both the Germany and Japan (in their correspondence) believed that no one in the West would stop them for being aggressive. So, in the 1930s, both Germany and Japan took aggressive actions against their neighbors. For example, Germany and Japan both seized territory from their peaceful neighbors. We got into a world war because we didn’t deter these early aggressive actions. That’s why we had to fight against a much stronger enemy in a world war – we gave them time to build up while we did nothing to prepare.
The differences between the two political parties could not be more clear. Weakness provokes war. Wars start when our enemies believe that they can strike us with impunity. Military strength, and the will to use it, deter aggression.