Shut Down Tyranny in the 21st Century

by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley


A new chapter in American history was launched in 2001 when a ring of murderous terrorists hijacked commercial jets and plowed them into New York City skyscrapers and the Pentagon just outside the nation’s capital.


By striking a blow at the heart of America’s financial and government institutions, the ring-leader of the al Qaeda network – Osama bin Laden – ignited a campaign of terror that seeks to score casualties, breed fear in ordinary Americans and inflict large-scale economic harm to the Free World.


Following the horrible massacre of innocent civilians and first-responders on September 11, 2001, an immediate outpouring of national unity and generosity flowed from all across America. A shared sense of outrage and horror was matched with an equally intense American spirit. Hope springs eternal in the land of opportunity.


Despite the horrific loss of life and psychological impact borne by an enemy attack on the homeland, America confronted the threat against human civilization and our way of life without hesitation.


Congress worked swiftly to compensate victims and survivors; beef up border screenings and transportation security; restructure federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering systems to improve communications and analysis; choke funding streams used to finance terrorist networks and fund counter-terrorism and state-level preparedness strategies.


Lawmakers embraced bipartisanship and worked for the greater public good, enacting 71 laws in response to the global war on terror and strengthening the U.S. military to dismantle terrorist regimes and insurgent groups sprouting up around the world.


Thanks to America’s aggressive efforts to thwart terrorism and forge strategic alliances with freedom-loving nations around the world, the U.S. has liberated millions of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, removed Saddam Hussein from power, eliminated al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq and prevented at least 15 major terrorist plots from unfolding against America.


Regrettably, as we observe the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, solidarity in

Washington is fraying.


Critics of the war on terror are choosing to turn a blind eye to what history teaches us. They forget the heroes of America’s “Greatest Generation” who put their lives on the line during World War II to defeat Nazism and advance freedom and democracy in Western Europe. Earlier that century, a Communist revolution cloaked tens of millions of innocent people behind the Iron Curtain and fueled the Cold War for the last half of the 20th century.


It seems the critics of the war on terror are dismissing the imminent dangers of totalitarian regimes that threaten human civilization. Those who call for the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East are undercutting freedom’s march in unstable areas of the world that could otherwise succumb to totalitarian regimes and serve as havens to freedom-hating terrorists.


I would love to bring U.S. troops out of harm’s way. But it would leave a security vacuum in an unstable region of the world.  Those who call for immediate withdrawal are retreating from the principles that make America the beacon of light and liberty and the best place on Earth to call home.


Throwing in the towel before the seeds of democracy and independence have taken root would cast darkness over a region struggling to ignite liberty’s lamp and put future generations of Americans at risk.


It would tarnish a legacy of liberty burnished by America’s war veterans and the men and women currently in uniform who are sacrificing life and limb to advance self-rule and a free society.


As America observes the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, let’s remember the resilient American spirit that unites all Americans from all walks of life.


On this fifth anniversary, we will grieve for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the masterminds driven by hate-driven ideology to recruit and train followers with no regard for civilization.


That is why America must continue to forge ahead alongside the world’s free nations to close yet another dark chapter of human civilization. The first great struggle of the 21st century parallels the forces of darkness and tyranny in the last one. Surrender is just not an option. Politics needs to take a back seat in the war on terror. Otherwise, terrorism could haunt Americans for generations to come.