9/11, Jews, and enlightenment

The second plane hits the South Tower. Some 9/11 conspiracy theories said that this plane was a tanker, not an airliner.
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9/11 should never have happened. 3,000 people should not have lost their lives when Muslim terrorists hijacked American airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Such is the conclusion of An End to Evil, an extraordinary book co-authored by David Frum, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, and Richard Perle, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and as chairman of Defense Policy Board in the present Bush administration.

Failures leading to 9/11

The authors show that in the summer of 2001, the CIA and the FBI had sufficient evidence of terrorist operations in the United States to have prevented that tragedy. Furthermore, America could have averted this tragedy had not the State Department had a permissive policy of allowing the Muslim terrorists, including 9/11 leader Muhammad Ata, easy entry in America.

Analysis of the failures CIA and the FBI, above all those of the State Department, convince Messrs. Frum and Perle that America cannot win the war on terror without radically overhauling these three agencies. Yes, CIA director George Tenet should go. But merely changing personnel is not sufficient; basic institutional change is necessary. Moreover, the CIA, like the FBI and State, suffers the bias of the liberal assumptions—say moral or cultural relativism—that nurtured its key leaders at American universities—which dull one’s ability to deal effectively with evil.

Practical steps

Given the horrendous danger militant Islam poses, Frum and Perle outline practical steps to take now to prevent another 9/11. “The FBI must return to the job it does best: catching criminals. It should be fired from the counterterrorism job it has bungled …” The CIA should not be engaged in clandestine services, which may better be assigned to a single a paramilitary body answerable to the secretary of defense. “The CIA should focus on its core mission: information gathering.”

As for the State Department, among the various reforms recommended by Frum and Perle, the most significant is political:

we should increase sharply the number of political appointees in the State Department and expand their role. The prejudice against political appointees in our diplomatic service is really a prejudice against democratic oversight of our foreign policy. We need ambassadors who will forcefully and unapologetically champion American policy abroad, and since our polices are set by the president they will be most vigorously articulated by appointees who understand the president’s mind and are sympathetic to his policies. …In the Middle East especially, our foreign policies have deviated from the moral principles and common sense of the American people…. People who do not support the president’s policies should not have a hand in making them.

Application to Israel

Now juxtapose Israel. Notice that Frum and Perle regard institutional change as a precondition of policy change. This is precisely what the present writer has repeatedly emphasized regarding Israel. Of course, Brum and Perle are not calling for reform of America’s political institutions. These institutions are basically sound and have contributed so much to American greatness. One cannot say this of Israel’s system of multi-party cabinet government. This system is inept and divisive. It also enables prime ministers and cabinet ministers to ignore public opinion between elections.

Another point. Brum and Perle see that the State Department is pro-Arab and therefore deviates from

the moral principles and common sense of the American people.

Now, everyone knows the American people are overwhelming pro-Israel. Bizarre as it may seem, however, anyone can see that the foreign policy of Israel’s government is more consistent with that of the State Department than with the moral principles and common sense of the people of Israel!

Israel needs political as well as institutional reform

Recall that the public, in the 1992 Knesset elections—the elections that brought the Rabin government to power—rejected the policy of territory for peace. But that government nonetheless pursued it at Oslo. Furthermore this had been State Department policy since the June War of 1967. We may say much the same of the Sharon plan to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. Had that plan—uprooting of 8,000 Jews—been an issue in the 2003 election, the Likud would never have won 38 seats in the Knesset. That number has enabled Mr. Sharon to foist this plan on the people. Again this is consistent with the wishes of the American State Department.

Withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza, according to Sharon, will increase Israel’s security, at least in the long run! People of common sense will deem this absurd. They will do so more readily if they are animated by the moral principles which Americans share with Jews.

And so the Jews of Israel have more in common with Americans than with their own political leaders!

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