On Sept. 11, 2001, at least 19 men — 15 of them Saudi citizens — boarded several commercial flights and executed the largest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. That event set off two major wars in the Middle East, both still ongoing at some level, and it signaled a new age in American foreign policy in which the U.S. is increasingly focused on deterring state sponsors of global Islamic terrorism.
The United States military clearly remains the most powerful fighting force the world has ever known. The men and women of our armed forces are deserving of great respect; they overcome substantial challenges each and every day in the course of defending our nation and our people. Those challenges are evolving, and our leaders and the public must take a hard look at how to win the wars of the future.
Historically, our troops and their leadership have enjoyed significant advantages. They have the best training. They have the best weapons. They have the best equipment. They fight for the most just causes and conduct themselves according to an incredibly high moral and ethical code.
All of this continues to be true, and the fighting forces of our allies deserve similar praise. While the West fights to ensure freedom and protect the safety of innocents, our enemies seek out civilian deaths intentionally. They see gruesome images as beneficial to their cause. They place no value on human life, and they use our honor and our morality against us.
They then turn around and use the communications tools developed in the West, including social media and the news media, to conduct craven propaganda campaigns that attempt to turn our political leaders as well as public opinion against our men and women in uniform.