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Terrorism and Freedom

How did the terrorist attacks change the way we look at freedom and democracy?

September 9, 2002

How did the terrorist attacks change the way we look at freedom and democracy?

The present U.S. mantra — "either-with-us-or-with-the-terrorists" — has been criticized all over the world. However, terror does go against crucial U.S. philosophical concepts: democracy and freedom. In that sense, the United States is in a key position to defend democracy — and to ensure that it remains strong. Our new Read My Lips explores how people see the war against terror as a war for freedom.

Why did the attacks trigger an urge to increase democracy's defense?

“The world now knows the full evil and capability of international terrorism which menaces the whole of the democratic world.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, September 2001)

Did the United States take up a universal cause?

“An attack on U.S. territory is an attack on the values that belong to all of us.”

(Italy’s Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero, September 2001)

What is crucial about U.S. leadership?

“Earlier enemies learned that America is the arsenal of democracy. Today’s enemies will learn that America is the economic engine for freedom, opportunity — and development.

(Robert B. Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative, September 2001)

What is terrorism's motivating force?

“Contrary to popular belief, the motivating force behind terror is neither desperation nor destitution. It is hope — the hope of terrorists that their savagery will break the will of their enemies.”

(Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister, April 2002)

Is the United States ready to fight this new kind of war?

“The war against terrorism is actually a very old kind of war, the kind of war at which we have long excelled — a revolutionary war against tyrannical regimes.”

(Wall Street Journal, October 2001)

Did the United States take up a new burden of responsibility?

“History has entrusted the United States with carrying the torch of freedom. And time and time again, through both war and peace, America has carried that torch with courage and with honor — combining a might the world has never known with a sense of justice that no power in history has possessed.”

(Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister, April 2002)

Did the terrorists underestimate U.S. resilience?

“Mr. bin Laden and his allies misjudge America. They think we are fundamentally a weak, greedy, selfish, materialistic people. They think we are weakened by our lack of a national religion and imposed social order. But they are wrong.”

(Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, October 2001)

How does U.S. President George W. Bush see the future of the fight?

“We will be a stronger nation as a result of this.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, September 2001)

Did life change for immigrants to the United States after the attacks?

“Unfortunately, the war against terrorism is turning into the war against immigrants.”

(Anthony D. Romero, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, December 2001)

What do many Arabs living in the United States think about America?

“We love America — because it is safe and free.”

(Bernadette Chalet, an immigrant from Lebanon, September 2001)

Outside the United States, whose quality of life has suffered?

“If someone is suffering from Islamic terrorism, then it is the Arabs.”

(Emad Adeeb, chairman of Egypt's Al Alam Al Youm newspaper, June 2002)

And finally, what is the greater cause in the fight against terrorism?

“In this war we defend not just America or Europe — we are defending civilization itself.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, May 2002)