facebook pixel
New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton Paved the Road to 9/11 (Part 2)

In the decades before 9/11, our political leaders failed to recognize that war had been launched against us and that the enemy is Islamic totalitarianism. They managed only to appease and encourage the enemy’s aggression.

Share this article:

The attacks of September 11, 2001, shocked the world. The road to 9/11, however, stretched back decades, and it is still widely misunderstood nearly a generation later. Why did our political leaders and their advisers fail to comprehend the growing threats against us? It was fundamentally an intellectual-philosophic failure, implicating both Democratic and Republican administrations. That’s what I argue in this opening chapter from Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009), which retraces key milestones on the road to 9/11. We’re pleased to reprint this essay, with permission, in New Ideal. Part 1 appeared on September 7.

The theme of Winning the Unwinnable War — that irrational philosophic ideas undermined America’s response to Islamic totalitarianism — is further developed in the 2021 book Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: What Went Wrong After 9/11, which is available in PDF for free and on Kindle.

Start with Part 1 here

The Road to 9/11 (Part 2)

By Elan Journo

Episode two unfolded during Ronald Reagan’s watch. The hostages in Iran were released on the day of his inauguration in January 1981. Many hoped that Reagan would restore America’s reputation by standing up to aggressors. He was contemptuous of Carter’s appeasement of Iran, arguing that we should not make deals with “barbarians” who take our people hostage.1

Once in office, Reagan conveyed that he held a black-and-white view of morality, and that this should inform U.S. policy. In a famous speech about the Soviet threat, the president admonished his audience not to give in to the “temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”2 (Many people sharply criticized Reagan for this mild intimation of moral absolutism, betraying their degraded conception of what a tough foreign policy looks like.)

Was this professed commitment to U.S. security, seemingly on moral principle, the real thing? On April 18, 1983, one month and ten days after that controversial “evil empire” speech, the Reagan administration was put to the test. The scene: Beirut, Lebanon.

The roar sounded like thunder, but there were no storm clouds in the sky; it sounded like the dynamite used by fishermen working the waters off the nearby coast, but far louder and closer. When the explosive-laden truck rammed the building and blew up, the blast tore away much of the building’s facade. A fine dust of glass and debris clouded the air. Broken pipes spewed out jets of water. Employees inside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut felt the entire building sway; they were the lucky ones. The guards at the front entrance were obliterated by the force of the explosion. Sixty-three people died, seventeen of them Americans.3

For the driver of the truck, a jihadist, this was a suicide mission. The attack had been orchestrated on the ground in Lebanon by Hezbollah, an Islamic totalitarian outfit that Iran had helped organize, train, direct, and finance. Hezbollah’s mandate was to establish an Iran-style regime in Lebanon. It was Tehran’s proxy force, part of the jihadist vanguard, working to expand the Islamic revolution. But Washington did nothing to retaliate against or deter Iran. So this attack became merely a prelude.

Six months later, on October 23, what seemed to be a water-delivery truck making a routine visit approached the barracks in Beirut where U.S. Marines were sleeping. At a little after 6 a.m., the truck sped past the perimeter barrier and into the compound. Ismalal Ascari, an Iranian, was at the wheel. The resulting explosion, according to experts who testified in court,

was the largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on the face of the Earth. The force of its impact ripped locked doors from their doorjambs at the nearest building, which was 256 feet away. Trees located 370 feet away were shredded and completely exfoliated. At the traffic control tower of the Beirut International Airport, over half a mile away, all of the windows shattered. The support columns of the Marine barracks, which were made of reinforced concrete, were stretched, as an expert witness described, “like rubber bands.” The explosion created a crater in the earth over eight feet deep. The four-story Marine barracks was reduced to fifteen feet of rubble.4

The carnage was unspeakable. Murdered were 241 servicemen. Many who lost their lives suffered in protracted agony before they succumbed. Hundreds were injured and maimed. (Almost simultaneously another suicide bomber struck the barracks of French armed forces in Beirut.)

Who was behind this atrocity? The sophistication of the attack outstripped what Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian Islamist groups could have pulled off by themselves: without material and technical help from Iran, the operation would have been a non-starter. Loaded in the truck-bomb was an explosive material (pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN) in a form that was not commercially available in Lebanon but was in production in Iran. The culpability of the Islamist regime in Tehran was confirmed by an intercepted kill-order sent by Iran to its ambassador in Syria. U.S. Naval intelligence intercepted a message instructing the ambassador to instigate Iran’s proxies in Lebanon to strike against Western forces in Beirut, and to “take a spectacular action against the United States Marines” in particular.5 (Iran has left little doubt about its role: at a cemetery in Tehran there stands a shrine honoring the “martyrs” responsible for the 1983 barracks attack.6)

Washington had sent the Marines into Lebanon to “provide a presence” as peacekeepers in that country’s civil war. Their mission was to help the Lebanese lift themselves out of anarchy and (as Reagan put it) determine their own destiny. That so-called humanitarian mission was reflected in the rules of engagement governing the Marines: They were forbidden from carrying weapons with live rounds in their chambers and were not allowed to load the chambers unless ordered to do so by a commissioned officer (with the exception of being under immediate deadly attack). It has been observed that they were more restricted in their use of force than an ordinary U.S. citizen walking down a street of practically any American city.7

Seeing the U.S. Marines it had put in harm’s way, savaged by an Islamist act of war, how did Washington respond? This time around the tough-sounding Reagan, not Carter, was in the White House. Reagan’s administration had previously committed itself to “swift and effective retribution” against terrorists. Whoever harbored such hopes about the administration was soon disappointed.

Conspicuously missing from Washington’s response to the attacks was an explicit recognition of Iran’s central role in the massacre — and that it was the motor of the Islamist proxies on the ground. Our leaders diligently avoided even the merest hint of using military force to punish Iran for massacring Americans. That option was off the table.

Instead, U.S. forces fired some inconsequential shells against Syrian forces that were besieging Lebanon. As Reagan explained at a press conference, however, “the most recent shelling was not because of attacks on the Marines at the airport [barracks]; it was because of shelling of our Embassy.” Despite return fire, Reagan explained that “we have not responded, because we think this is a time for restraint and for hoping to cool things down.”8 Seeming resolute, Reagan had vowed that the attacks would not deter America from its mission. The Marines would stay in Lebanon, dauntless. But not long afterward, he ordered the “redeployment” of the Marines to the USS New Jersey off the coast of Lebanon. Reagan spun this as something other than “cutting and running,” since they were just offshore, not back in America. But it was a transparent retreat.

Islamists wanted America out of Lebanon. We let their aggression go unopposed. And then we fulfilled their wish. New crisis, same appeasing outcome. To Khomeini this was an affirmation of the lesson drawn after the hostage crisis.

The American retreat only encouraged Iran and its Islamist brothers-in-arms across the world. Watching all this play out was Osama bin Laden. “We have seen in the last decade,” he said in 1998, “the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions.”9 Like Khomeini, bin Laden was half-right: it is not our brave soldiers who are weak, but our political leaders who send them into the line of fire, disarm them, and then refuse to retaliate after Americans are pulverized in their beds.

The grotesque spectacle of American military superiority but moral weakness spurred the jihadists to venture farther afield and to feel that they could operate with practical impunity.

In Lebanon, Iranian-backed Islamist militants went on a spree of abductions and murders of Westerners. The victims included Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University in Beirut (murdered in a drive-by shooting); William Buckley, the CIA’s station chief in Beirut (abducted in 1984, murdered in captivity, his mutilated remains dumped by a roadside); Terry Anderson, a correspondent for the Associated Press (taken hostage in 1985 and held until 1991). In Europe, a jihadist group hijacked U.S. airliners. In West Berlin, a discotheque popular with off-duty American soldiers was devastated by a bomb. In Naples, the USO club was attacked with a car bomb. All sorts of opportunistic, anti-American militants also felt emboldened to pile on. Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Italian cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea; the terrorists murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American passenger, by rolling him overboard. It was open season on Americans.

Occasionally, Washington lurched from its passive mode of appeasement to fits of punch-drunk crisis management. The order of the day: to “do something,” anything, in response to such outrages. In 1984 the Reagan administration put the Islamic Republic of Iran on the blacklist of terrorist-sponsoring states. That had all the retributive force of fining a mass murder for an overdue library book. Predictably, with time the problem worsened. The Reagan administration tasked the CIA for a study on what could be done about the wave of terrorism. Robert Gates, a CIA veteran and the Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, recounts the process of deliberation:

We focused especially on Iran, the worst offender. The downsides of an attack on Iran, to everyone’s regret, outweighed how much Iran deserved punishment. We pointed out that failure to hit Iran would ensure that Iranian-sponsored terrorism would continue and even grow, but terrorist-connected targets were near cities and attacks against them would, by themselves, have little impact.10

Despite regarding it as “the worst offender,” analysts counseled against confronting Iran, and instead for selecting an alternate target. By a process of elimination, the CIA settled on Libya. Why? “[B]ecause it was in the poorest position to sustain itself against U.S. actions — military or economic — it became the target for U.S. retaliation against all state-sponsored terrorism.”11 So in April 1986, American bombers fired on some military targets in Libya, and on one of Qaddafi’s homes. The damage inflicted, Gates recalls, was less than hoped for, but made Qaddafi more cautious “and probably inhibited others as well — at least for a while.”12

Yet unsurprisingly attacks against Western targets continued and so did abductions in Lebanon; within two years, Libya instigated the mid-air bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland (killing 270). America’s meaningless retribution was in itself encouraging to Iran and other Islamists. By taking on the weakest menace, Washington presumably hoped to send Iran and others a cautionary message. The actual effect of that token strike on Libya was to certify America’s lack of self-confidence and its fear of confronting the chief enemy. More still: it certified Khomeini’s belief that America was fundamentally impotent.

It is worth remembering that, as was uncovered later, the Reagan administration was then actively arming the regime in Tehran. Spectacularly myopic, this clandestine scheme was supposed to help extricate a number of American hostages held in Lebanon by Iranian-backed groups. In exchange for its “help” in freeing hostages, Iran received powerful U.S. missiles. This was exposed to the light of day in the so-called arms-to-Iran scandal. Here, then, we find America, a powerful and innocent victim, on its knees, appeasing and laboring to strengthen its own destroyer.

So much for standing up to the “barbarians.”

Episode three. In his inaugural speech in 1989, President George H.W. Bush made an overture toward Tehran. Alluding to the remaining American hostages held in Lebanon, he suggested that “Assistance can be shown here, and will be long remembered. Good will begets good will.”13 Translation: if Iran would be so kind as to give the order to release the hostages, Washington would reward it. Like Carter and Reagan before him, Bush conformed to the pattern of appeasement. And by the late 1980s, Islamists understandably came to feel licensed to make outrageous demands of us — and to expect us to comply.

They felt licensed do this in the open, flagrantly. That was evident in the international scandal over Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. The novel portrayed the prophet Muhammad in a manner that some Muslims felt was unflattering. A minor controversy over the book simmered for a while after its publication; it boiled over into a major crisis on Valentine’s Day, 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a decree, or fatwa:

I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses — which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an — and those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.

I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. God willing, whoever is killed on this path is a martyr.14

This was not some shadowy plot to blow up Marine barracks; this was not some hidden contract-hit; this was a public, self-righteous call to murder.

Furthermore, this was a demand that America, and other nations, suspend a crucial principle of secular society: the freedom of speech. This right protects an individual’s freedom to express his ideas — in whatever medium and regardless of what others feel or think of his ideas — without fear of physical retribution. Khomeini’s edict commanded that the West totally nullify this freedom.

This fit with the broader goal of the Islamist movement: to establish the supremacy of its ideology upon all mankind. Khomeini had imposed Islamic law, sharia, within the frontiers of Iran. “The struggle will continue,” he had stated, “until the calls ‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ are echoed all over the world.”15 By commanding us to bow in deference to the medieval notion of slaughtering whomever he accuses of offending Islam, Khomeini presumptuously asserted global jurisdiction for his moral-political ideal.

Did Washington declare that an individual’s freedom of speech is sacrosanct, regardless of who finds it objectionable? Did Washington vow to hunt down and bring to justice anyone who dares to act on Khomeini’s death decree? No, any suggestion that we might use military force to uphold our ideals and protect American lives — that would just irritate the Iranians even more.

Washington instead extended to Iran a token of our “good will.” When President Bush finally commented publicly on the death-decree, he said: “However offensive that book may be, inciting murder and offering rewards for its perpetration are deeply offensive to the norms of civilized behavior.” With that shameful statement, Bush implied that Khomeini and Rushdie were equally objectionable. He added the pro forma warning that America would hold Iran “accountable” should any action be taken against U.S. interests, a warning no one in Tehran had reason to tremble over.16 Rather than take a stand, our leaders opted to keep their heads down, to show that they had no intention of flouting Khomeini’s will, in the vain hope that Iran would back off and the issue would go away, somehow. By such appeasing passivity, however, Washington bowed in deference to a blood-lusting cleric and sacrificed the freedom of Americans.

Zealous Muslims had heard the fatwa. With bounties of $2.5 million on his head, Rushdie was driven into hiding under twenty-four-hour police protection; his American publishers were inundated with threats. His Italian translator was assaulted so badly he almost died; his Japanese translator was murdered. Two bookstores in Berkeley, California, were firebombed. In March 1989 alone, the FBI received word of more than seventy threats to bookstores; Waldenbooks received forty anonymous threats. The climate of fear led some stores to withdraw the book from display. A store at Dulles International Airport posted a sign, by way of an insurance against threats: “We Don’t Stock the Satanic Verses.” One American publisher canceled the contract for a book deemed too incendiary;17 the number of other projects that publishers avoided out of fear of retribution is incalculable.

Unprotected by their government, many Americans were left with little choice but to submit and crouch in fear of Khomeini’s fatwa. By the default of our leaders, that death decree against a supposedly blaspheming author was a wholesale attack on the freedom of speech in America and across the world. Our leaders demonstrated that they did not believe we had a moral right to assert ourselves against those who seek to murder Americans and subjugate us under dictates of sharia. Yet again, Washington handed Islamic totalitarianism a triumph — one that Islamists went on to exploit seventeen years later in the furor over Danish cartoons of Muhammad. (We explore aspects of that crisis in chapter 2 and chapter 6.)

For Islamists, having abducted, intimidated, and murdered Americans, the next step in the escalation was to bring the terror-war to our shores.

Episode four opened with the first attack, in 1993, on the World Trade Center, an attack obviously meant to inflict catastrophic harm. The truck-bomb was supposed to topple one of the towers onto its twin. Though unsuccessful, the blast did manage to kill six and injure more than 1,000. Think of this as a rough draft of 9/11. Clues indicating that this was another salvo in the broader jihad against America went unexplored. The newly inaugurated Clinton administration dealt with the bombing as a criminal matter.

Then came a sequence of major attacks — in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Yemen — each inflicting serious casualties and probing to see how much aggression America would tolerate. The probing elicited from the United States the familiar pattern. Clinton’s time in office reflected all the salient aspects of that pattern: blatant appeasement — sporadic, toothless reprisals — evasive passivity.

Consider the bombing in 1996 of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The building housed U.S. forces involved in protecting that country from Iraq. The blast wave emitted by the truck bomb pummeled the eight-story building and killed nineteen Americans. Investigations revealed that the bombers had been trained by Iran in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley; they had been given passports at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria; they had received $250,000 in cash to pay for the operation from an Iranian general; and afterward, some were living in Iran. According to Louis Freeh, who headed the FBI at the time, the Clinton administration purposely dragged its feet to slow down the investigation, lest it be revealed that Iran was behind the Khobar attack. Eventually, when that was established with certainty, Freeh reports that the administration’s interest in the case “translated into nothing more than Washington ‘damage control’ meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers.”18

No action was taken against Iran, because that would endanger plans for improving relations with Tehran and pursuing a dialogue. Clinton had called for a genuine reconciliation between the U.S and Iran. Echoing that message, at the time that the Khobar investigation was being stonewalled, Secretary of State Madeline Albright offered that “As the wall of mistrust comes down, we can develop with the Islamic republic, when it is ready, a road map leading to normal relations.’’19 To that end the administration progressively lifted previously imposed economic sanctions on Iran (piddling restrictions easily breached and often suspended through waivers). More goodies, Washington suggested, might be forthcoming.

Behind this appeasing maneuver was a rationalization that many found tantalizing. Within Iran, it was claimed, there was a new crop of leaders seeking “reform.” Notable among them was Mohammad Khatami, who in 1997 became president of Iran. For a brief spell there seemed to be some kind of ferment, some modest loosening of social restrictions (e.g., men and women “felt freer to move about, to mix and mingle; university students of both sexes dared to address one another on campus”; women “did not hesitate to expose a bare wrist, ankle, painted toe, or even a bit of bare neck”; the regime licensed a few more newspapers).20 In reality these superficial changes were evanescent, and soon there followed a crackdown. Khatami himself was uninterested in anything like “a secular government on the Western model,” observe the scholars Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin. Rather, he “was dedicated to perfecting the Islamic Republic, not to replacing it.”21

Nevertheless, the Clinton administration desired a rapprochement with Iran, and to make that happen it pushed out of mind the reality of the regime’s character and its ongoing proxy war against us. Thus, after Khobar, the latest attack in that war, Washington went out of its way to refrain from retaliation and busied itself with trying to purchase Iranian good will.

While our diplomats tried to coax the Islamists in Iran to dance a waltz, other Islamists pounded U.S. interests in Africa. In August 1998, massive bombs went off outside the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. One of the explosions leveled a three-story building and incinerated dozens of passengers in a nearby bus.22 Thousands were injured. The death toll climbed into the hundreds.

But on this occasion, Washington did take military action. Clinton told the nation that “There are no expendable American targets” — but this rhetoric was belied by his actions in the Khobar case and again in the meek retaliation that was about to unfold.23 U.S. Navy ships in the Red and Arabian Seas sprinkled seventy-odd Tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan. Their targets were primitive boot camps for Islamist holy warriors in the Afghan wilderness and a purported chemical weapons factory in Sudan that turned out to be no such thing.24 Far from seriously disrupting the Al Qaeda bases in those countries (as the administration claimed) these strikes were pinpricks. Just as in 1986 America opted to confront the runt among the threats before it, striking at Libya instead of Iran; so again, Washington appeased Iran (which had helped train Al Qaeda’s bombers) and gingerly wagged an admonishing finger at Al Qaeda.

The boot camps reconstituted, the training resumed, and the holy warriors marched on — galvanized at seeing America’s timidity.

Hard on the heels of the bombings in Africa came the attempt to sink the USS Cole in Yemen. The warship had stopped at the port of Aden to refuel. Two suicide-bombers came alongside it in a small fishing boat loaded with explosives. The explosion opened up a forty-foot-by-forty-foot hole in the hull, and killed seventeen servicemen.25 Neither Clinton, nor his successor, George W. Bush, deemed it worthwhile responding to that attack. They sat by passively.

A young man interviewed after the attacks at the port of Aden eloquently stated a view that, affirmed over and over by U.S. policy, had become gospel in the Middle East. Looking at the gaping hole in the side of the mighty USS Cole, he put it simply, with satisfaction and perhaps even pleasure: “You have big boats, and look, they are nothing!”26 True enough. Lacking a conception of who the enemy is and lacking the certainty of our moral right to permanently eliminate that enemy, the United States is impotent.

Observe how, after the storming of an embassy in Tehran and the kidnapping of its personnel, we then faced the wholesale murder of Americans, blown up in their beds, at cafes, in night clubs, on airliners. Observe how continual appeasement served, not to diminish the enemy’s ardor, but to inflame it — not to placate the enemy, but to infuse it with audacity, the audacity to put a bounty on the head of a novelist and his publishers. Observe how America’s perpetual evasion of the enemy’s nature empowered the jihadists.

Observe how this pattern paved the way from an attack on our embassy in Tehran one November morning, to a catastrophic morning in downtown Manhattan.

The Pattern

There is a common outlook in foreign policy that generates this pattern: “realism.” Proponents of realism tell us that morality is a hindrance to achieving results in foreign policy. Getting hung up on moral distinctions (for example, between friends and foes) would mean severely constricting the range of actions open to our policymakers. Moral ideals and other broad principles, therefore, are pushed aside in the name of a hard-boiled commitment to “practicality.” But the inexorable result of this aversion to principles is intellectual myopia.

The realist mindset shuns the need to sort through the data and discern the nature of events. It spurns the process of cognitively digesting past events and abstracting out the patterns and trend lines. The many distinct dots, in other words, are left unconnected and their significance unidentified. In this regard, recall how after the Beirut bombings, the Reagan administration secretly worked to bribe Tehran with missiles, in order to release American hostages in Lebanon. Or recall how following 9/11 Washington organized an anti-terrorism coalition and (in all seriousness) invited Iran, the arch-sponsor of Islamist terror, to join. On the realist outlook, each crisis, each problem, each situation is dealt with on its own perversely narrow terms.

This myopia also means that so-called realists cannot project the future consequences of actions taken in the present. And while proponents of this outlook profess a devotion to advancing the national interest, they cannot define what is in America’s interest, since formulating that definition requires the long-range perspective that realists abandon. Take, for instance, the policy that began in Carter’s administration, and continued under Reagan, of supporting jihadists in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Why do this? We were against the Soviets, who had invaded Afghanistan, and so were the holy warriors — even though they were equally anti-American. History has shown us the results of that scheme. We have suffered grievously at the hands of some of those holy warriors — a bearded, willowy man from Saudi Arabia being prominent among them.

Disaster is the inevitable result of following realist policy in the face of an enemy driven by a moral ideal and committed to fighting a generations-long struggle to realize that ideal. The operating assumption for realist policymakers is that (like them) no one would put an abstract, far-off ideal ahead of collecting some concrete, immediate advantage (money, honor, influence). So for realists, an enemy that is dedicated to a long-term goal — and thus cannot be bought off with bribes — is an enemy that must remain incomprehensible.

So it was and remains.

In the wake of 9/11, proponents of realism moved to the sidelines. To a significant extent the policy of the Bush administration came to reflect the influence of neoconservative thinkers, particularly their idea that moral principles must inform U.S. foreign policy. In part 2 of the book, we will explore this brand of principled policy, one that proved no less destructive to our security.

Chapter 1 from Elan Journo, ed., Winning the Unwinnable War, copyright 2009 by the Ayn Rand Institute, is reproduced with permission of Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., through PLSclear.


If you value the ideas presented here, please become an ARI Member today.

Do you have a comment or question?


  1. Bowden, Guests of the Ayatollah, 563.
  2. Ronald Reagan’s remarks at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, 8 March 1983. As transcribed in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project.
  3. Dammerell v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 01-2224, (D.D.C. 29 March 2005).
  4. Judge Royce C. Lamberth, Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Civil Action No. 01-2094 (Memorandum and Order), 30 May 2004, 16.
  5. Lamberth, Peterson, 17, 12.
  6. Anthony Loyd, “Tomb of the unknown assassin reveals mission to kill Rushdie,” Times Online, 8 June 2005, www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article531110.ece (accessed 25 Aug. 2007).
  7. Lamberth, Peterson, 6.
  8. Ronald Reagan’s news conference of 22 February 1984. As transcribed in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project.
  9. Bernard Lewis, “A War of Resolve,” Wall Street Journal, 2 Feb. 2002, www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=105001985 (accessed 7 Sept. 2007). Quoting bin Laden from a 24 May 1996 ABC interview with John Miller.
  10. Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Touchstone, 1997), 351.
  11. Gates, From the Shadows, 352.
  12. Gates, From the Shadows, 354.
  13. George H. W. Bush’s Inaugural Address, 20 Jan. 1989. As transcribed in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project.
  14. Quoted in Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West, 2d ed. (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003), 27.
  15. Khomeini quoted in Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 217.
  16. Thomas L. Friedman, “Bush Finds Threat to Murder Author Deeply Offensive,” New York Times, 22 February 1989, www.nytimes.com/1989/02/22/world/bushfinds-threat-to-murder-author-deeply-offensive.html (accessed 25 Aug. 2007).
  17. Pipes, The Rushdie Affair, 167–71.
  18. Louis J. Freeh, “Khobar Towers,” Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2006, www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008563 (accessed 7 Sept. 2007).
  19. Philip Shenon and David Johnston, “U.S.-Saudi Inquiry Into 1996 Bombing Is Falling Apart,” New York Times, 21 June 1998, www.nytimes.com/1998/06/21/world/us-saudi-inquiry-into-1996-bombing-is-falling-apart.html (accessed 4 Sept. 2007).
  20. Haleh Esfandiari quoted in Clawson and Rubin, Eternal Iran, 129.
  21. Clawson and Rubin, Eternal Iran, 131.
  22. James C. McKinley, “Bombings in East Africa: The Overview; Bombs Rip Apart 2 U.S. Embassies in Africa; Scores Killed; No Firm Motive or Suspects,” New York Times, 8 Aug. 1998, www.nytimes.com/1998/08/08/world/bombings-east-africa-overview-bombs-rip-apart-2-us-embassies-africa-scores.html (accessed 4 Sept. 2007).
  23. James Bennet, “U.S. Cruise Missiles Strike Sudan and Afghan Targets Tied to Terrorist Network,” New York Times, 21 Aug. 1998, partners.nytimes.com/library/world/africa/082198attack-us.html (accessed 23 Oct. 2008).
  24. See Daniel Pearl, “New Doubts Surface Over Claims That Plant Produced Nerve Gas,” Wall Street Journal, 28 Aug. 1998, online.wsj.com/article/SB904255274222359500.html (accessed 23 Oct. 2008); Steven Lee Myers, “After The Attacks: The Overview; U.S. Offers More Details On Attack in the Sudan,” New York Times, 24 Aug. 1998, www.nytimes.com/1998/08/24/world/after-the-attacks-the-overview-us-offers-more-details-on-attack-in-the-sudan.html (accessed 23 Oct. 2008); William Claiborne, “Targets Described As Primitive,Washington Post, 22 Aug. 1998.
  25. John F. Burns, “The Warship Explosion: The Overview; Toll Rises to 17 in Ship Blast, as U.S. Hunts Suspects,” New York Times, 14 October 2000, www.nytimes.com/2000/10/14/world/warship-explosion-overview-toll-rises-17-ship-blastus-hunts-suspects.html (accessed 4 Sept. 2007).
  26. John F. Burns, “How a Mighty Power Was Humbled by a Little Skiff,” New York Times, 28 October 2000, www.nytimes.com/2000/10/28/world/how-a-mightypower-was-humbled-by-a-little-skiff.html (accessed 4 Sept. 2007).
Share this article:

Elan Journo

Elan Journo is a senior fellow and vice president of content at the Ayn Rand Institute. His books include Illuminating Ayn Rand (2022), Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: What Went Wrong After 9/11 (2021) and What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2018). Elan is a senior editor of New Ideal.

Updates from New Ideal

Book Image  

Listen to New Ideal Live!

New Ideal Live is the podcast that explores pressing cultural issues from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, which upholds the ideals of reason, individualism, and capitalism.

Subscribe here.

Ayn Rand University App

Explore unique philosophical content that challenges conventional views — in courses you can take on the go.

Available on Google Play and
the App Store.

Welcome to New Ideal!

If you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter! You’ll also receive a FREE copy of our book, Illuminating Ayn Rand.