America and Freedom After September 11
The attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, did not happen because of what America did, but because of what America is: a liberal democracy defending freedom.
America has made many foreign policy mistakes over the years, and its democracy is far from flawless. However, the US did not cause the birth of Islamism, just as she did not cause the birth of Nazism or Communism. Just like Nazism and Communism, Islamism deplores democracy and freedom, and sees America as a threat, because it is the leader of the free world.
The rise of Nazism in the 1930s and the transformation of Germany into a militant state with hegemonic ambitions was to a large degree a result of the indecisiveness of the US and her Western allies prior to the Second World War. Japan’s aggressive designs in the Pacific Ocean prior to and after Pearl Harbor were also a result of a perceived American weakness.
The Middle East would have been a violent mess even if the US had never entered the region. In fact, the endemic violence and oppression in that dysfunctional part of the world has only escalated after the US dramatically downscaled its presence. The US exit from the Middle East created a power vacuum, which, among other things, produced the ongoing Syrian civil war.
America under President George W. Bush was not loved, but it was respected in the Middle East. President Obama’s declared ambition to mend ties with the Muslim world not only failed, but actually emboldened the radicals in the Middle East. Many have questioned the merits of the US invasion of Iraq. Yet the US-led toppling of Saddam Hussein caused panic in Iran, and forced the Iranian regime to temporarily lower its profile in the region (and temporarily suspend its nuclear program). Obama’s deal with Iran emboldened the mullahs, who no longer even conceal their aggressive hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East and beyond.
It is fashionable today to slander America as an “imperialist aggressor.” In reality, the US has often been reluctant to use its military power. It required an attack on Pearl Harbor to bring the US into the Second World War. It required a Hezbollah massacre of 240 US soldiers in Lebanon in the 1980s to provoke a US response to Islamist terrorism. America only launched a military operation against the former Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein after he ignored several calls by the international community to end his aggression against Kuwait. The list goes on and on.
Obama’s Iran deal, which was supposed to make the world safer, has emboldened the Iranian regime to harass the US Navy in the Persian Gulf and increase its hegemonic aggression and support of terrorism. Obama’s one-sided pressure on America’s leading ally, Israel, has radicalized the Palestinian Authority and pushed a potential peaceful two-state solution even further into the future.
Nothing emboldens the enemies of freedom more than when the West blames itself for Islamist terrorism, and when a US president appeases the leading terror regime in the world. The Iranian regime sees Israel as the “small Satan” and the US as the “great Satan,” irrespective of US policies. History shows repeatedly that an America seen as weak and indecisive makes the world more dangerous.
Only a confident and assertive America can prevent future Pearl Harbors and 9/11s. Freedom is a precious commodity, which can never be taken for granted and must be defended in order to be passed on to future generations. The victims of 9/11 expect nothing less, and neither should anyone else who believes in democracy and freedom.
Daniel Krygier is a writer, political analyst, and satirist living in Israel.