"For the Record"
1) Goodness, Evil and Relativity: There are some really
good people in this world. They volunteer to help those who need
it, and ask nothing in return. There are also some really bad people
in this world. They exploit those who need help, or who have less
wit or "charisma", and motivate them to join in committing unspeakable
acts of cruelty against people they don't even know. Then there
are the rest of us. Average people who try each day to do no harm,
to provide for their families, to do an occasional act of kindness.
The evil that was perpetrated against our land on 9/11 was the product
of Mullahs who see our prosperity and power as a threat to their
control over the uneducated Muslim masses on whose shoulders they
ride through life. And so they preach hate. They are evil.
2) Violence begets violence: It's true. Violence does beget
violence. But sometimes there is no alternative but to confront
those who would perpetrate evil acts against us. This is one of
those times. We are blessed to have courageous men and women willing
to put their lives on the line to track down and annihilate those
who have been so imbued with evil as to be beyond redemption. But
violence is not a strategy. It is a necessary and fully justified
reaction to an unimaginable threat. But it is not a strategy. If
we are to win this war, we must defeat the Mullahs. And to defeat
the Mullahs, we must find ways to separate them from their uneducated
flocks. We cannot kill all those who have been taught to hate us,
nor should we wish to. Far better to change their minds than to
change their state of being.
3) The intelligence community let us down: Well, maybe just
a little. Lots of senior and not so senior intelligence people became
just as enamored of high tech gadgets as their political masters.
The protests over our evisceration of the human intelligence component
of the agency were not very loud or forceful. Keeping spies on the
ground is a high risk and often dirty business, and it wasn't just
liberal politicians who didn't have much stomach for it.
4) Poverty is the breeding ground for terrorists: No, it
isn't; but religious extremism is. The Mullahs fear our wealth and
power because it shows that a secular society with democratic institutions
and a free market economy can do a better job of taking care of
its peoples' needs, both spiritual and physical, than the oppressive
Islamic regimes that they aspire to lead. The Mullahs are the problem,
not poverty, but poverty does make it easier for the Mullahs to
spread their evil - as do governments that tolerate and even reinforce
their hateful message.
5) Profiling: We are at war here! We are not talking about
traffic stops. If we were at war with Iceland, I would expect those
charged with our defense to pay very close attention to any Icelander
who ventured near our shores. In this war I expect them to pay very
close attention to Muslims with ties to the places that spew hatred
against us. Random checks when there are no such obvious targets
available are a good way to keep the evil ones guessing, but let's
not make small children and grandmothers take their shoes off while
we watch far more likely candidates walk aboard unchecked.
a. Never forget that what happened on September the 11th
of 2001 was an act of war.
b. Never sit silently by while someone tries to justify what
happened on that day as an understandable reaction to U.S. policies
in the Middle East or elsewhere.
c. Fly our nation's flag proudly - it represents this world's
greatest hope to move beyond the pain and suffering that inflict
so many across the globe.
Richard E. Hawley
General, USAF, Retired
Former Commander, Air Combat Command