Today we remember those who lost their lives on that horrible day six years ago. We also honor the sacrifices of Americans in uniform who have bravely fought in the war that began on September 11, 2001.
The fact is that all freedom-loving people throughout the world are engaged in a struggle against the barbarism of Islamist extremism. This is not a battle between civilizations, but rather a battle for civilization.
The cause which we are fighting for is not a Republican cause or a Democratic cause. Our cause is the cause of defending liberty and freedom against a totalitarian movement that is the evil heir to the twin totalitarian threats of the 20th century. Islamist extremism, like fascism and communism, seeks to eliminate all of the ideals that free peoples cherish.
Just as during the World War II and the Cold War, our challenge today, is not to relent in this fight for liberty. And the central front in this war today is Iraq. You cannot be serious and strong in defeating those who attacked us on 9/11 if you counsel retreat in Iraq.
To pull the plug on progress in Iraq would hand our two most dangerous enemies in the world — al Qaeda and Iran — an extraordinary military and strategic victory. These are fateful days and critical decisions we are making about Iraq. We must make them with our eye on the safety of America’s next generation. It is to the credit of President Bush that he has done that in the war against Islamist extremism. He has shown the courage and steadfastness to stand against the political passions of the moment.
As Ronald Reagan once said, now is the time for choosing. If we stand united through the months ahead, if we stand firm against the terrorists who want to drive us to retreat, the war in Iraq can be won and the lives of millions of people can be saved. But if we surrender to the barbarism of suicide bombers and abandon the heart of the Middle East to fanatics and killers, to al Qaeda and Iran, then all that our men and women in uniform have fought, and died for, will be lost, and we will be left a much less secure and free nation.
That is the choice we in Washington will make this fall. It is a choice not just about our foreign policy and our national security and our interests in the Middle East. It is about what our political leaders in both parties are prepared to stand for. It is about our soul as a nation. It is about who we are, and who we want to be.
Will this be the moment in history when America gives up — when al Qaeda breaks our will, when our enemies surge forward, when we turn our backs on our friends and begin a long retreat from our principles and promise as a nation? Or will this be the moment when America steps forward, when we pull together, when we hold fast to the courage of our convictions, when we begin to turn the tide toward victory in this long and difficult war?
History tells us that appeasement of evil leads to disaster. Our cause is freedom’s cause. Together, we must prevail.
– Joseph Lieberman is a United States senator (I.) from Connecticut.