Eight years ago, nearly 3,000 American individuals were murdered. A massive retaliatory use of force became an immediate moral imperative for the United States Government.
I will leave it to more poetic voices to describe the tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001. But I will attempt to put those events into a context that I do not believe is used enough in discussions of foreign policy. The context is the only context that any government should operate within: self-interest. The “self” being each individual comprising a government’s constituency. This modus operandi for government, naturally, extends into the realm of foreign policy. In every interaction with the outside world, our government should act in our interests. This means that no war is ever fought for the sake of the people of another nation (i.e. our government has no right to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers for any purpose other than preserving the individual rights of American citizens). This is not to say that an American life is, intrinsically, worth any more than the life of a foreigner. However, a foreigner’s life should only be a secondary consideration for our government.
This philosophy comes with a plethora of ramifications that affect a wide array of government programs and actions. However, for the sake of this day and post, I will focus on self-defense. The attack of 9/11/01 was an attack on America as a nation, American ideals, American lives. But most importantly, it was an attack on individuals – American individuals, to be precise. As such, a massive retaliation on anyone and everyone responsible was a moral imperative for the U.S. Government. No quarter was given to us by our enemies, and none should have been given in return. I believe Dr. Yaron Brook said it most succinctly:
Eschewing self-interest in the name of compassion is immoral. The result is self-destruction.
Our response to radical Islamic terrorism has clearly lacked any sense of self-esteem or a proper understanding of the role of government. Americans – because they are human beings – have an inalienable right to their lives. 9/11/01 was more than an attack on a nation’s pride, it was an attack on human pride, an attack on human dignity. Those who do not respect life do not deserve it. If you look back on 9/11/01 and feel anger or rage, do not be ashamed. The root of that righteous indignation is pride – specifically, pride in the fact of your existence as a human being.
America was built upon the idea that men should deal with one another by reason, and by mutual consent and to mutual advantage. Sadly, there are those in this world that choose to deal with their fellow men by force – let them be dealt with appropriately. To the extent that inaction by our government results in the loss of American lives, our government can be held morally responsible.