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Ghate and Journo on What Went Wrong After 9/11

An ARI book reflects on America’s response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

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We “could see in twenty, twenty-five years a second 9/11.” That’s what Onkar Ghate concludes in a recent New Ideal Live podcast – on the assumption that we don’t learn the lessons of the first 9/11.  In that podcast, Elan Journo and Onkar Ghate argue that the recent U.S. prisoner swap with the Iranian regime shows that we have not yet learned the lesson.

What is that lesson? The deal with Iran, which amounts to a ransom payment to release hostages, is an example of the same kind of unprincipled appeasement of the Islamist threat that was pervasive before 9/11. “It’s ultimately a failure of ideas” and moral cowardice, explains Journo.

Understanding the causes of and the American response to the horrific events of 9/11 requires deep philosophical reflection. It means evaluating the nature of the militant Islamic threat, the role of a proper foreign policy in defending citizens’ freedom, and the morality of a just war, among other issues. Such reflection is offered by Ghate and Journo’s Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: What Went Wrong After 9/11, which is now available in a second, updated edition.

“This book presents the Ayn Rand Institute’s distinctive analysis of what’s wrong with America’s response to the Islamist threat since 9/11,” explain Ghate and Journo.

We argue that the fundamental problem lies in irrational philosophic ideas that permeate – and subvert – American foreign policy. You can see those ideas at work in the failure properly to understand the nature and goals of the Islamists – in the self-effacing policies leading to unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – in the self-crippling battlefield rules of engagement that hamstring our military – in our continuing appeasement of the enemy and our evasion of the scale of the problem – and in the failure of Western leaders to uphold the secular principle of freedom of speech.

Originally published in 2016, Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism consists of seven parts, each with essays on topics ranging from America’s relations with the Middle East to an Objectivist approach to foreign policy. The expanded edition from 2021 offers even more essays that update their analysis through the Trump and Biden administrations. You can read the authors’ preface here, and read the entire book for free in PDF form (see below). It’s ARI’s attempt to help America learn the lesson it so desperately needs.


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Ziemowit Gowin

Ziemowit Gowin, PhD candidate in philosophy, is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and web editor of New Ideal.

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