I was really quite honored when David asked me a few months ago to be with you this weekend. But, to tell you the truth, in the 34 years I've been in Washington until I went straight this last summer and joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a vice president, I spent the bulk of that time, 22 years, as: (A) a lawyer; (B) in Washington D.C.; and, then, (C) I spent some time out at the CIA in (D), the Clinton Administration.
So I'm actually pretty well honored to be invited into any polite company for any purposes whatsoever.
I have adopted the distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies Eliot Cohen's formulation - that we are in World War IV. World War III having been the Cold War.
I think Eliot's Formulation fits the circumstances really better than describing our current conflict as a war on terrorism.
The Enemies of World War IV
Let me say a few words about who our enemy is in this World War IV, why they're at war with us and (now) we with them, and how we have to think about fighting it both at home and abroad.
First of all, who are they? Well, there are at least three. I would say they're principally three movements that all come out of the Middle East. And the interesting thing is that they've actually been at war with us for years.
The Islamist Shia, the ruling circles, the ruling Clerics, the Mullahs of Iran, minority -- definite minority of the Iranian Shiite Clerics, but those who constitute the ruling force in Iran and sponsor and back Hezbollah, have been at war with us for nearly a quarter of a century. They seized our hostages in 1979 in Tehran. They blew up our embassy and our Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. They've conducted a wide range of terrorist acts against the United States for something now close to a quarter of a century.
The second group is the fascists - and I don't use that as an expletive. The Baathist parties of Iraq - and really Syria as well, are essentially fascist parties or modeled after the fascist parties of the '30s. They're totalitarian, they're anti-Semitic, and they're fascist.
The Baathists in Iraq have been at war with us for over a decade. For Saddam, the Gulf War has never stopped. He says it never stopped. He behaves as if it never stopped. He tried to assassinate former President Bush in 1993 in Kuwait. He has various ties, not amounting to direction and control, but various associations with different terrorist groups over the years, including al-Qaeda. He shoots at our aircraft. He did this again just yesterday over the no-fly zones. He's still at war. He signed a cease-fire, which he's not observing. So it's very clear that he is still at war. And he has been for at least 11 years.
The third group, and the one that caused us finally to notice we are at war, is the Islamist Sunni. I think this one in some ways is the most virulent and long-term of the three groupings that are at war with us. I think this is the one that will be at war with us for a long time.
The Wahhabi religious movement in Saudi Arabia, which dates back to the 18th century and has roots even well before that, was joined in the '50s and '60s by Islamist - mostly from Egypt - who immigrated to Saudi Arabia. They are a more modern stripe of essentially the same ideology. These fundamentalists - Islamist I think is the better term for them - more or less focused on what they call the near enemy. They believe "the near enemy" is the barbaric regime in Egypt, and to some extent, the Saudi royal family. In the attack of 1979 on the great mosques in Mecca, they were focusing on what they called the "near enemy". They continued with attacks against the Saudi rulers until around the mid-1990's.
Then, around 1994, they decided to turn and focus their concentration and effort on what they call the Crusaders and Jews. By this they mean the USA and Israel. They have been at war with us since at least 1994. Since that time there have been a number of well-noted terrorists incidents, including the USS Cole, the East African Embassy bombings and, of course, September 11th.
What is different after September 11th is not that these three groups came to be at war with us. They've been at war with us for some time. It's that we finally, finally, may have noticed and decided, at least in part, that we are at war with them. I think these three groupings are more or less analogous to three mafia families.
They do hate each other and they do kill each other from time to time. But they hate us a great deal more. And because of this, they're perfectly willing and perfectly capable of assisting one another in one way or another - this includes helping Iraq and al-Qaeda.
If that's whom we're at war with, why? Why did they decide to come after us? I think there are two basic reasons. The first, and the underlying one was best expressed to me last January by a D.C. cab driver. Now, I resolutely refuse - since I'm not ever in elective politics, I can afford to do this - I refuse to read any articles about public opinion polls. And with the time I save, I talk to D.C. cab drivers. It is both more enjoyable and I think in many ways a much better finger on the pulse of the nation.
I got into a cab last January, the day after former President Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University, in which he implied - he didn't exactly say, but pretty well implied - that the reason we were attacked on September 11th, was because America's conduct of slavery and the treatment of the American Indian historically. And as I got into the cab, I saw that the cab driver was one of my favorite varieties of D.C. cab drivers, an older, black American long-term resident of D.C., a guy about my age. And the Washington Times article was open in the front seat to that story of the President's speech. So as I got in, I said to the cab driver, "I see your paper in the front there. Did you read that piece about President Clinton's speech yesterday?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "What did you think about it?" He said, "These people don't hate us for what we've done wrong. They hate us for what we do right."
You can't do better than that. We're hated because of freedom of speech, because of freedom of religion, because of our economic freedom, because of our equal - or at least almost equal - treatment of women, because of all the good things that we do. This is like the war against Nazism. We are hated because of what of what we are. But even if hated, why attacked?
Well, would suggest that we have for much of the last quarter of the century - not all, but much - have been essentially hanging a "Kick Me" sign on our back in the Middle East. We have given some evidence of being what bin Laden has actually called a paper tiger.
My friend, Tom Moorer, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and maybe known to some of you here, was a young officer at the end of World War II and participated in the interrogations of Prince Konoe and several of the Japanese leaders of the handful who were eventually hanged. And the team he was with asked all of them, "Why did you do it. Why did you attack us at Pearl Harbor?" He said, they all said pretty much the same thing. They said, "We looked at what you were doing in the '20s and '30s. You were disarming. You wouldn't fortify Wake Island. You wouldn't fortify Guam. Your army had to drill with wooden rifles. We had no idea that this rich spoiled, feckless country would do what you did after December 7 of 1941. You stunned us."
Flash forward three quarters of a century. I think we gave a lot of evidence to Saddam, to the Islamist Shia in Tehran, to the Hezbollah and to the Islamist Sunni that we were for a long time a rich, spoiled feckless country that wouldn't fight.