AMERICA AT WAR: SPEECHES: THEN; AFTER THEN, NOW

() PEARL HARBORTHEN:  December 8, 1941 (520 WORDS)

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy . . . . The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation. As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. . .   Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people- we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.

[Acting like a leader FDR says] I ask that the Congress declare that . . . a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

394261 14: A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

AFTER THEN: September 21, 2001  (3,000 words)  

Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom – . . .   Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done. I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time. . . . see Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” . . . On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country.   Who attacked our country?  . . . a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. 

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, . . .It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. . . . We will direct every resource at our command . . .  to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

I’ve called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason.. . . This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight.

Americans are asking:  What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children. . . . to be calm and resolute, . . . to uphold the values of America, . . .to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions.  . . . for your patience, with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security;  . . . your continued participation and confidence in the American economy.  . . . finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and their families, for those in uniform, and for our great country.

Men in orange jumpsuits purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State (IS) kneel in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from an undated video made available on social media on February 15, 2015. Islamic State released the video on Sunday purporting to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya. In the video, militants in black marched the captives to a beach that the group said was near Tripoli. They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded. Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead. REUTERS/Social media via Reuters TV (CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY VIDEO. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES

NOW:  December 6, 2015 (words 1900)   

Our nation has been at war with terrorists. . .  Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas . . . the terrorist threat has evolved  . . .  I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists. . . .  And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking . . .   The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. 

Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. . . . we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters . . . second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian force . . .  Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations . . . Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process — and timeline — to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution . . . “

[Refusing to lead Obama says]  If Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. 

*********

Roosevelt was brief and succinct. “The very life and safety of our Nation” are at risk. We are in “grave danger.” He asked for a declaration of war against Japan. We will win. He asked for no other nation’s help. His war lasted three years and eight months.

Bush and Obama were verbose. No war declaration sought. Our enemy seemed nebulous – “enemies of freedom” – “Terrorists” – “al Qaeda” – .”ISIL” –“any other organization that seeks to harm us.” We wanted other nations to help. No real sacrifice asked or danger noted. No declaration of war requested. The war both president’s talk about is in its 14th year.

We’ve made little progress. It is because we are pretending to be at war. Our leaders are followers both in the White House and Congress. There remains no leadership but only followship in the country.

It seems to me if we are at war as Obama states he must demand a declaration of war against ISIL. The first principle of war is to define the enemy; the next is to defeat it. One enemy at a time is the way to go. When we defeat ISIL, then we can decide who will be next.

When you are at war you must be at war all the way. You don’t climb into the ring and ask others to come in with you.

 

19 thoughts on “AMERICA AT WAR: SPEECHES: THEN; AFTER THEN, NOW

  1. Merry Christmas Matt….great minds think alike and all that. I had done a similar comparison after hearing Obama on Afghanistan a few years ago…compared and contrasted him with Kennedy:

    JFK

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge — and more.

    OBAMA

    This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

    JFK

    To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do — for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

    OBAMA

    Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America’s war.

    JFK
    To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

    OBAMA

    Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort — one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

    JFK

    To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support — to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

    OBAMA

    Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

    JFK

    Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

    We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

    OBAMA

    This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance.

    JFK

    All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

    OBAMA

    After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

  2. From a March 28, 1786, letter written by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were American diplomats at the time, to U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay reporting on their conversation in London with the ambassador from Tripoli regarding piracy by the Barbary States:

    “We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.

    The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

    (Wall Street Journal)

    1. Henry:

      230 years later it seems little has changed except the ability to communicate more easily and to travel more widely and quickly. No longer will those who believe their mission is to wage war on those sinners who fail to accept their authority have to limit their exploits to sailings ships and their message to face to face communication.

    2. Wa-llahi! 1786? Hmm…wasn’t slavery legal back then? Weren’t the colonies roiled by a revolution that routinely saw fratricidal barn burning local vendettas in which people were lynched for their political sympathies (See General Sullivan’s Western New York campaigns and the exploits of Francis Marion, and, Banastre Tarleton). Away from the formal battles between ranked and uniformed troops, in the country-side, and, small towns, especially areas close to the frontier, the Revolutionary War was a savage no-holds-barred guerrilla conflict. The fact that all sides read the Bible didn’t seem to help very much. What are you trying to say about the Koran, Henry? Speak plainly, man.

      1. Sorry, Khalid. I can’t write about القرآن الكريمbecause as you know only only the Arab version is true. We ‘kuffar’ only know the translations, and they both vary and are not valid in Islam.

        So you tell me what this means in the original Arabic:
        Koran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

        No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

        And this?
        Koran 2:191-193 – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out.”

        Jefferson and Adams were not Bible-readers other than as a literary read. They were both deists if anything.

  3. How do you declare a “state of war” on something that is not a nation by our Western concept of war?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war

    However, the Islamic concept of “jihad” has local elements (individuals and nation-states) in a state of war against those individuals and nation-states who are “non-believers” – basically all those who do not follow the teachings of Mohammed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad#Warfare_.28Jihad_bil_Saif.29

    So, we forget that is a mistake to bring a baseball to a football game, or a knife to a gunfight. This also applies to our concept of “declaration of war”. We do not declare a “state of war” on individuals, but some individuals have declared a “state of war” on us. We become confused because not all who identify themselves as followers of Mohammed agree that they are in a “state of jihad”. We advocate tolerance, but this concept may no be the best policy with those who may be lethally intolerant. To deny this reality can have lethal consequences for us as individuals and as a nation.

  4. The Koran, like any other sacred scrip, is subject to different interpretations, as is the Christian Bible, which has been used by the Dutch Reformed Church of the South Africa to excuse the imposition of chattel slavery on native Africans. Passages from the Good Book were also used to approve the excesses of the Genevan Republic, John Calvin’s “heaven on earth?” It’s radical extremist Protestant government rivaled ISIS in its’ religious cruelties. Misguided interpretations of sacred writ are not peculiar to Islam.
    Historically, Catholic conservatives, from Tomas de Torquemada to Father Coughlin, have concealed vicious anti-Semitic streaks under their religious conservatism. Some Muslim people are the same way. Many hadith are highly critical of Jews. If a person wants to insult the Jews, they have plenty of ammo in the hadith collections. People suffer when haters find a home in religion, any religion.

    1. Hadith were collected long after the Prophet had died. They were mainly oral tales purporting to be his words and were codified in the reign of ‘Aaron the Just’ in English), known to us today from the 1001 Nights.

      Individual hadith are classified by Muslim clerics and jurists as sahih (“authentic”), hasan (“good”) or da’if (“weak”).

      However, there is no overall agreement: different groups and different individual scholars may classify a hadith differently.

      Different branches of Islam (Sunni, Shia, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya) refer to different collections of hadith, and the small heterodox Quranists reject the authority of the hadith collections.

    2. Khalid, let’s not try to justify current wars by writing that everyone has done it in the past other than to note that in the entire history of Christianity there are no examples I know of where a ‘believer’ did ‘God’s Will’ by killing himself and as many innocent people as possible and thereby becoming a ‘martyr’ in his religion. Contrary to what the Prophet did say about suicide.

      The fact seems to be that today there are no Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish groups demanding conversion to their beliefs or death.

      You might want to read Sayyid Qutb.

  5. Henry:

    I’m familiar with Seyed Qutb. His work was/is very important to the growth of political Islamism. Qutb continued a line of thought first developed by Mohammad Abduh, Jemal al-Afghani, and, Rashid Rida, the early Salafists.
    Qutb called for a revolution against the capitalist, and, socialist, compradore puppet regimes that ruled the Muslim world on behalf of the American, Soviet, and Western European neo-colonial projects. Like his predecessors in the Salafi tradition, Qutb felt that political Islam could function as a modern, non-socialist, alternative to European neo-colonialism in both its’ western, and, eastern, forms. He imbibed many of his notions while attending college in the US.

    Qutb understood the power of tribalism in the Mid-East. He knew that the only social structure that could supersede tribe loyalties was religion. He discerned this from his study of Muslim history. To Qutb, foreign ideas, like the secular state, and, democracy, were fine for Europe, but, had no value in a theo-centric Muslim culture, where these ideas made no sense.

    Qutb searched the roots (usul) of Islam to find a way to resist the European cultural, military, and, economic, invasion of Muslim society. He came up with a uniquely Islamic philosophy of resistance. His ideas so excited the Islamic masses of Egypt that the military regime of Gamal Nasser suppressed his works, and, hanged their author.

    This is an interesting discussion. Let me know what you object to about the political Islamism of Seyyed Qutb, and/or, any particular work of his that you want to criticize.

  6. Henry:

    The Hadith collections came about because of the development of literacy. They were initially part of Islamic “orature.” When the Koran says “Read!” it really means recite. In the time of the Prophet (PBH), hadith were transmitted orally. As the Sahaba, the Tabi, and the Tabiyyin, the first three generations of Muslims, began to pass on, early scholars, wanting to preserve hadith from mortality, would put followers’ reports about the Prophet, and, his words, into writing. As you noted, over time, a method of judging hadith was developed. Every hadith has an isnad, its’ chain of transmission. The relaters of a hadith were judged for their honesty. If any of the people passing down the hadith report had a reported moral blemish, credence in the report would diminish. The most trusted of the Sunni hadith collections are those of al-Bukhari, and, Abu Muslim. Shia collections are very similar to the Sunni, except when they deal with the succession of the early Caliphas. That’s where all the problems between the Sunni and Shia begin.

    Your Koranic quote refers to the punishment awaiting the Quraishi idolaters. You are taking it out of its’ correct historical context. When the Koran speaks of enemies it is usually specific to the pagan Arab enemies of the early Muslims. IS and AQ are also prone to taking things out of context.

    Henry, you must not have read my prior posts about the Catholic Christero revolt in early twentieth century Mexico. A Christero terrorist assassinated President Obregon of Mexico. Christero guerrillas immolated an entire train full of people during their bloody insurgency. They really enjoyed killing the the primary school teachers the Mexican government would train, and, send out to educate its’ people. Basic knowledge was dangerous threat to the Catholic hierarchy. The more recent behavior of Croatian Roman Catholic militias in Bosnia during the break-up of Yugoslavia is another fine example of militant Christianity. As for Judaism, the nation of Israel indulges in state terrorism at will, and, completely unrestrained by any moral dilemma.
    Like I said, when haters find a home in religion, people suffer.

  7. People who’d like to learn a little, or, a lot, about Islam should read:

    “An Introduction to Islam” by Frederick Matheson Denny. The book is put out by MacMillan Publishing Company:New York, 1994.

    If you want to go deeper, pick up “The Venture of Islam” in three volumes by Marshall G.S. Hodgson, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1974.

    Anyone planning to pursue an academic and/or government career in things Middle Eastern should memorize these books, and, understand their arguments.

  8. Henry:

    You raised a good question about the Koran.

    Allah, subhana-ta-Allah, sent the Koran in Arabic, because, it was the finest of human languages for transmitting the emotive rhythms of the divine message. The Koran is not written in ordinary Arabic (MSA). It’s complex poetic koine, not present in MSA, immediately calls the listener to the divine. No one ever really spoke the Arabic you see written in the Koran, except in reference to the Koran, and, in the course of religious activity. Koranic Arabic uses a complex of meters, of which there are 16, according to al-Khaleel’s “wheel” scheme for recognizing the meters of the poetic koine.

    When you see children rocking to and fro in the madrasas, they are not hypnotized zombies, the kids are moving to/counting the meter of the passage they are reading. It’s way the Koran is memorized.

    The Koran is lengthy and written in the poetic koine, a meta-Arabic, that only religious men, and, adabs, can fathom, after much exegesis. Scholars struggle to understand the complexities of metaphor in the Koran, yet, young children can perfectly memorize all it’s words. Muslims believe that Islam has seen only one miracle, and, that is the inimitable Koran, itself.

    Henry is correct. You must understand Arabic, and, classical Arabic, at that, to delve very deeply into the mysteries of al-Koran.

    Taha Hussein, the Egyptian literary scholar, wrote extensively on the poetic koine of Arabic. His investigations took him back to jahiliyya times before the Koran was sent, I say sent, not written, because, saying “written” implies that the Koran was created (The Koran has always existed beyond time and space co-equal and uncreated with Allah, subhanna-ta-Allah). Hussein discovered a form of Arabic that was only used for poetry, never ordinary speech . The speech of poets was thought to be magical, something to respect and fear. Before Islam came, the pagan Arabs, particularly, the bedouin, were very existentialist in their attitude toward life and death. A man only lived beyond death through his reputation in the minds of the living. Poetry was the only known preservative of heroic reputation. When poetry mocked a man it also destroyed his reputation, killed him in the after-life, so, to speak. The poets of pre-Islamic Arabia were dangerous fellows in much the same manner as Irish poets in Brehon times. The sting of their words was greatly feared.

    Taha Hussein, who was blind, and, had an acute ear for poetry, observed that the pre-Islamic poetic koine was very similar to Koranic language. It was a real breakthrough in understanding the Koran in a linguistic sense. Of course, some ignorant religious shaykhs condemned him, as they always do, and, he went in fear of his life, for a time. The shaykhs thought Taha Hussein was claiming that poets had created the uncreated Koran. That would be blasphemy. Actually, Hussein was only commenting that the Koran was rendered in the poetic koine by Allah.

  9. Khalid,

    Orthodox Jews also rock back and forth while praying, as do Irish seanachies when telling a tale. And Homer wrote about the practice….The Odyssey was recited from memory.

    In the old days of the 20th century we all learned to memorize and recite long poems. I’m sure Matt can today recite ‘Evangeline.’

    It’s an ancient mnemonic.

    “When you see children rocking to and fro in the madrasas, they are not hypnotized zombies, the kids are moving to/counting the meter of the passage they are reading. It’s way the Koran is memorized.”

    1. Henry:

      You are being kind as to what I can recite. I am able to recite one of Ogden Nash’s poem which he called the shortest poem in the world. He named it FLEAS. And if my memory serves me right without rocking it goes: “Adam Had’em.” Late raising my spirited and somewhat rebellious daughter I was able to top Nash. I came up with a poem I called THE NAUGHTY GIRL. It’s verses were: “Go! No!”

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