“We were with you at the first. We will stay with you to the last.” Those were the words of Tony Blair in response to the attacks of 9-11. They are a stark reminder to us today. And now we Americans are going to be tested in our response.
It has been easy, as the months since September 11th, 2001 have stretched into years, to go back to business as usual. We have sometimes forgotten we are in the midst of a War on Terror.
Some on the far left have claimed that there is no such war – that’s it just a conservative catchphrase. That rings fairly hollow today.
At the same time, the Bush Administration has not been truly serious about fighting that War on Terror. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose – his freedom mocking our vow to fight. We have made no progress in making America energy independent. We have not been forceful and committed enough in fostering democracy around the world. And the lack of foresight in the war in Iraq took troops and translators and time away from tracking down and breaking the terrorist networks.
More time has passed since 9-11 than the time between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day. Sixty years ago, it took America three years and eight months to form a global alliance to invade North Africa and Normandy and free whole continents from despotism. This Administration put tax cuts ahead of defeating terror.
This is the moment that progressives should stand up and lead the way for America in showing how to fight and – eventually win – the War on Terror. Mobilizing millions of Americans, in a myriad of different ways, to serve and protect the country. Making us free from the grip of dependence on Mideast oil. Leading a true, lasting, and muscular push for democracy and freedom around the world. Not just using the London tube bombings as a way of looking backward and securing our public transportation (as we did with airlines after 9-11), but looking forward and securing our borders and bridges, seaports and airports, nuclear and chemical plants. Tracking down and destroying the world’s loose nuclear material. Winning the battle of ideas against the cruel ideology of Muslim extremism and winning the hearts and minds of people around the world with a battle against poverty, disease, and despair.
America needs our leadership, not just our criticism of the errors of others.
Speaking of those who fell on September 11th, Prime Minister Blair said: “I believe their memorial can and should be greater than simply the punishment of the guilty. It is that out of the shadow of this evil, should emerge lasting good: destruction of the machinery of terrorism wherever it is found; hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between faiths; and above all justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed, so that people everywhere can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not the violence and savagery of the fanatic.”
New names were added to that memorial in London this morning. Our commitment to building it should grow even stronger.