PINEHURST, N.C. — There are some distinct advantages to being retired and also to not be running for political office. For example, you need not worry about being "politically correct." So I won't be PC in the words that follow. I tell you that up front just in case you choose to not read on.
There is another advantage to being retired. You have more time to read, study and reflect on issues critical to the survival of our nation, our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy in America. Those freedoms are being eroded. Our way of life has been altered in the past three years. Our nation's survival may even be at stake!
September 11, 2001 changed our nation in so many ways. The human losses on that horrific day, coupled with the human losses in the Global War on Terrorism (most notably, but not exclusively, in Iraq and Afghanistan), are the losses we feel the most. If you visit a public facility, a state or national monument; if you attend a Super Bowl or a major sporting event; if you fly on a commercial air carrier, or ride Amtrak, you are subjected to inspections and delays not encountered three years ago. Our freedoms have been restricted.
We have spent, and are spending, billions of dollars to protect our most precious resources -- our people. And we are spending billions of dollars to protect our facilities such as bridges, tunnels, monuments, government buildings, nuclear power facilities, electric grids, and I could go on. Barriers to freedom of movement are virtually everywhere.
Unfortunately, many of us forget we are at war. We are becoming too accustomed to these restrictions to our freedoms and these expenditures for security. In too many cases, we are using the war on terror for political purposes and forgetting who the real enemy is. As the recently released
9/11 Commission Report
noted, there is no one political party nor administration that can be blamed for the 9/11 terror attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists. And here is where I stray from being politically correct.
Islamic Fundamentalists! That is the group we need to focus on. These fundamentalists are a tiny fraction of the Muslim believers. But they represent a fanatical group bent on destroying our way of life. Over two decades ago terrorists killed 241 Marines in Beirut in 1983? What did we do? We pulled the Marines out. Later a CIA chief was kidnapped and then a Marine Corps Colonel. Each were tortured and murdered. We did not respond.
Ten years later there was the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. Also in the decade of the 90s there was the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia killing and wounding American Airmen, the attack on the USS Cole in the waters of Yemen and bombings of our embassies in Africa. More recently there have been terrorist killings in Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines, Spain and of course, the several beheadings of hostages in Iraq the past few months.
There is one common denominator to all of these dastardly attacks -- Islamic Fundamentalists.
I believe we need to aggressively and specifically target those who deny us our freedoms, our way of life, and seek to destroy our nation. If that means "profiling" certain ethnic and religious groups, so be it. If that means severe restrictions on visa applications and passports, so be it. If that means tougher requirements to study in America, so be it. If that means harsher restrictions for work permits or citizenship applications, so be it. We may be entering a dense forest to fell one tree, but if that tree has the capacity to kill then enter the forest we must.
I also believe that 99-plus percent of Muslims are decent, honest, non-threatening and believers in a peaceful way of life. However, I am not certain that the Muslim leaders in this country and abroad are doing all they can to dissuade the Fundamentalists, as they are labeled, from pursuing their stated goals of destroying the "infidels." There are too many terror camps training a future generation of terrorists. Too many young men and women are being recruited to serve as suicide bombers. What religion could bring anyone to doing such horrendous acts?
If the true Muslims of this country and the rest of the world are subjected to the restrictions I noted above, along with many others not mentioned, they may be more motivated to exert their leadership, control charitable giving that finds its way into Islamic Fundamentalists coffers and establish positive programs for the benefit of the youth of their faith. It may also, very importantly, just diminish in some small way the loss of freedoms that we are experiencing daily.
Political or police profiling may not be politically correct. It may not be something that many Americans could support. But until we realize completely that we are in a global war against a terrorist enemy hell bent on destroying America, we will be confronted daily with further attacks on our way of life. And surrendering to their demands, ala Spain after the Madrid bombings, the Philippines after a hostage taking, or America's failure to act decisively after Beirut, Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole bombing only serves to reassure the terrorist that their actions are effective.
One could argue that with little in the way of effort, people or money, the Islamic Fundamentalists effected a desired election outcome in Spain. They have moved nations to withdraw from the battlefield in the international war on terror by kidnapping their citizens. Their current weapon of choice is the kidnapping and beheading of innocent workers, be they humanitarian workers or contract workers in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. For the last 20 years they have been emboldened by nations, including America, not taking decisive action to thwart their efforts.
Since 9/11 we have taken action on the military, diplomatic, and economic fronts. But more, much more, needs to be done. First, we must admit that it is Islamic Fundamentalists that are the principal enemy in this war on terror. Then we must admit that it is OK to do some profiling in the interest of our safety and security. And we must also insist that other Islamic nations -- Saudi Arabia included -- commit fully to ending the reign of terror perpetrated by a significantly small group of Muslims worldwide.
We are at war. We need to positively identify the enemy. We also need to use all aspects of our national power -- diplomatic, economic, and military to combat this enemy. Some temporary sacrifices of our freedoms may be required; but we should not accept them as a permanent way of life.