Pissing Down Your Leg

Thoughts on Economics and Economic Policy

A Speech for the Tenth Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

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Ten years ago today we were attacked by a group of 19 men. These 19 terrorists, supported by a larger terrorist network, used our own airplanes as weapons of mass destruction and killed thousands of Americans and others. In the ten years since then we have fought two wars, one directly related to the attack, one much less so. We have paid the price for these wars in over 6,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines killed, tens of thousands more injured, and at a cost of over a trillion dollars.

By some metrics these wars have been successful. We removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and we killed or captured most of those responsible for the attack including the head of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. In Iraq, we removed a dictator from power, reduced the sectarian violence that followed, and the Iraqi people now have a parliamentary democracy in place. To the men and women in our military, we owe more than we can ever repay. But one thing I wish to make perfectly clear is that we will never forget the fallen nor shall we ever abandon our veterans. They have done all that we have asked of them and more. Any mistakes in the wars have been ours, not theirs.

After ten years, it is time to bring these wars to a close. We are not a nation of war, but a nation of peace. It took us only four years to win the second world war in both Europe and the Pacific. At this point we risk becoming accustomed to a state of perpetual warfare, a result that I cannot and will not accept. Furthermore, there are no longer any concrete goals we can accomplish. Our military presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan is doing as much to foment violence as it is to eliminate it, leading to an uneasy equilibrium. Because of this, we will remove our remaining troops in Iraq by the end of the year as has previously been agreed upon with the Iraqi government. All of our troops will be taken out of Afghanistan by the end of 2012. Both of these countries must now learn to stand on their own.

But the events in the Middle East and Northern Africa this Spring show that this area of the world should not be abandoned. Indeed, today we have new allies in the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and others who have shown that the desire for liberty and freedom is universal and glows in the hearts of all men and women. But in most cases it will not be our role to directly intervene in these nascent democracies. Just as we would have resented France had it sent troops to Boston in 1776, so too would these new allies resent Marines or Army Rangers or Navy Seals showing up on the shores of Tripoli, Cairo, or Hamah. As we saw in both Iraq and Afghanistan, while our military was there to help these countries, its presence often generated as much hostility as goodwill, just as foreign troops in American cities would.

So instead of a policy of armed conflict, we will shower these new allies with sunshine. We will provide aid when needed and asked for, whether it be in the form of food, medical supplies, or advice and training. We will provide arms only when we think it will tip the balance and help those people who are struggling to throw off the yolk of tyranny and bask in the glow of liberty. We will no longer give these people a reason to hate us, but instead provide them every reason to love America as the beacon that shines for all people who desire to be free. I believe that this investment, which will cost us much less both in terms of lives and dollars, will nonetheless have a much larger return. And as we reduce the cost of our foreign engagements we will be able to focus on other priorities at home such as making sure that the unemployed are able to find jobs so that they can support their families.

Do not interpret this change in policy as a sign of American weakness. Events this year have shown that we can attack any place on earth either with our unequaled special forces or aerial assets. If we are attacked on our own soil or abroad, we will respond swiftly and decisively. There will be no place that is safe from our long reach. But it is my belief that this new policy will remove all support that terrorists enjoy from the population of some countries. And without that support, terrorists will find it much more difficult to attract recruits and hide from our reach.

Remember that we our Americans. And what makes America great is not the strength of our military but of our ideals. We would rather welcome people into our country as immigrants than be forced to kill them as enemies. We must make sure that our foreign policy is in line with those ideals. And when that is the case, then will we be the city on the hill that was envisioned by our founding fathers. By avoiding foreign entanglements we will be the America of which we can all be proud.


Written by Liam C Malloy

August 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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