Transcript of Remarks at the 18th Annual John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner
Ashland University – May 3, 2002
Ladies and Gentleman:
May I have your attention please. So we can get to the part that you’re all waiting for, I have a few things that I need to get done. I understand that not many of you have filled out your cards for questions. If you really want to get those questions in, you really ought to do it soon. The scholars will be around to pick them up. So if you see our scholars walking around just raise your hand and they’ll pick them up. I hope that you all enjoyed your dinner. Thank you.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize not only the staff of the center, but one person in particular who truly made this event not only happen, but to be successful. And considering that was the first event that she’s had to handle, I can’t say enough for the job Sally Blair did. And I’d appreciate a round of applause for her. Sally where are you hiding? Super job!
Over the years we’ve had a number of extraordinary speakers grace this very stage; and we know that this is because of our program’s reputation and the fact that we make them feel very welcome. To accomplish this we need and have received extraordinary support from several individuals. In particular tonight, unfortunately Sam Miller and his wife could not be with us, but I want to publicly thank them for their support for this event.
And another way that that support is forthcoming for us is to minimize traveling for our speakers. Which as you can imagine is very difficult for them. They’re very busy. They’re on the road a lot. And Ashland, while it’s a great place, is not exactly the easiest place to get to. I really can’t stress enough, in probably the right words, how much our supporters appreciate the selfless persistence that Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Ridenour give to the Center. Providing their aircraft which is extremely comfortable for not only tonight’s speaker but for others. I cannot say anything more than thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. To Belle and to Ralph our honorary chairmen of this event. Thank you very much.
I’d like to take this opportunity to make a few introductions. The first being a gentleman who has been great support and a great encouragement to the Center and all that we do; and I want to thank him publicly for that and introduce Dr. Benz the President of Ashland University and his wife Gerry. Thank you very much.
I also want to introduce a gentleman who was up here doing our invocation, our great Governor of this great state of Ohio; and we appreciate your leadership, Bob Taft. Thank you again.
I believe the Lieutenant Governor is with us. Lieutenant Governor Maureen O’Connor would you please stand.
And one other notable that I’d like to introduce to you-and we’re very pleased to have her with us-Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton. Justice.
And another good friend of ours, who is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ashland University, and also a board member of the Ashbrook Center, Dr. Sandberg and his wife Annie. Dr. Sandberg.
I’ll be introducing this gentleman in a little while but I’d also like Dr. Schramm, our Executive Director, please rise and be recognized. Dr. Schramm.
We are pleased to have with us this evening John Ashbrook’s sister, Lucy Tavener, and his niece, Ann Ashbrook-Evans, it’s a pleasure to have you ladies with us this evening. Thank you for coming.
I can’t say enough for the folks that serve on our board. There were three of them just mentioned, and there are a few others that are with us this evening. I’d like to introduce them, and I’d like them to remain standing, and give them a round of applause at the end. Dave Carto, Rex Elsass, our state Senator, Bill Harris, Bob Kessler the vice chairman of our board, Nancy Van Meter-Matia, Bill Teets who is president of the Ashbrook Alumni, and Tom Whatman. Thank them all for us. They do a great job.
You’ve heard a lot about what we are. Well, what we are are the scholars. That’s really what our program is about. And we continue to have a great group of young people. And I want to thank both Peter and Roger for the job they’ve done in recruiting because this is a super group of young people. Very personable, very bright, and we are very happy to have them aboard. Will the scholars please rise and be recognized.
I want the scholars to pay attention very closely because it really is true that you can survive Dr. Schramm. We’re fortunate to have with us this evening fifty of our alumni from our program that did survive Dr. Schramm. Would you please all rise alumni and be recognized.
One reminder of an upcoming event, on the 29th of this month, we will have our annual Tom Van Meter Scholarship event. And this takes place in Columbus. For those of you who do not know, Tom was one of the people responsible for establishing the center. There will be a luncheon featuring Michael Barone. Some of you may remember Michael from our last annual dinner, which seems like a long time ago. Probably because it was. And he is an outstanding political analyst. This will take place at noon at the Adam’s Mark Hotel on the 29th and you’re all welcome. Please come. The purpose of that event is to raise funds for our internship program which is one of the most important things we do. And we are not able to do enough of it, so if you can please join us.
One other reminder. I invite you to look at our website, those of you that are computer users. There’s an awful lot of information on that site, including an audio archive of all of our speakers, including tonight’s. So you can listen to all of these wonderful speeches that we have had over the years, and they are all archived there. You can also subscribe to our email update, which I think is one of the best on the web, it’s really very well done. Thanks to Peter and Roger.
You know it is pretty incredible to have another in a long list of principled and candid speakers. All befitting the legacy of John Ashbrook. And what timing. How we do it sometimes I’m not sure. But in this case this good timing is due to unfortunate conditions in the Middle East and throughout the world. There has certainly been significant events occur since our last get together here. And all of that has caused a lot of changes in our lives. And it is likely to make some more in the future. However, I believe that there will be one constant if we have anything to say about it. And that is the AshbrookCenter.
The Center will continue to be dedicated to preparing scholars and providing forums based on the principles and practices of the American Constitutional government and politics to help meet the challenges facing our country. I’ve said this before that we are a very unique, very unique, educational institution. And we’re the only one that exists on an undergraduate level doing what we do. We’re very proud of that. We provide a meaningful liberal arts education that has only gotten better with time. Thanks to Peter, the University, and all the support we get. We are pleased to be here at the University here at Ashland. And thankful for the model to emulate that John Ashbrook established for us. Being one of principle and integrity. We’re very grateful for your support which enables us to continue our efforts to provide not only the scholars formal education, but also the public forums such as our luncheons, our publications which provide a means to enhance our scholars experience as well by having private discussions with our speakers. We’re very proud of what we have accomplished here; and we’re looking forward to a much brighter future ahead.
To introduce our distinguished speaker it is my pleasure to bring to the podium a man that really needs no introduction to many of you. Suffice it to say that he is the best. We are fortunate to have him as director of the Center because of his intellectual capability, his ability to express himself. Although people think he is a little laid back. His love of teaching, as well as his love of country. I am proud to be associated with him and call him a friend. Our Center’s director, Peter Schramm.
Dr. Peter Schramm
Thank you very much Marv.
Ladies and Gentleman, I also thank you for coming this evening. It is especially good to see so many of you here tonight since it is only a matter of months since the phenomenon of terrorism forced itself upon the American mind. The American people are just beginning to fathom the deep reservoirs of courage, and prudence, and resolution that will have to be drawn upon in what will certainly be the long war against this evil thing. As we summon our resolve, we can learn much from the example and the wisdom of a man like Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is no exaggeration to say that Benjamin Netanyahu has been fighting against terrorism his whole adult life. As a decorated soldier, as a diplomat, as Prime Minister of Israel, as a statesman, and as author of several important books on the subject. He has fought terror in all the ways it must be fought. With force, with heart, soul, with policy, with ideas. And in doing so he has displayed the great virtues of character and mind that will be needed in our own war which is just beginning.
Before I introduce our honored speaker in memory of all victims of terror and in memory of all the freedom fighters who have given their lives in the war against it, high among them Mr. Netanyahu’s heroic brother Jonathan, please observe with me a moment of silence.
Thank you. Now please join the AshbrookCenter in welcoming a great friend of freedom and of America, and that formidable foe of terrorism in every form, the honorable Benjamin Netanyahu.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. You’re very kind. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. On the way out here flying in the plane with Dr. Schramm and President Benz and with Ralph and Belle Ridenour-and by the way I was delighted to be introduced to the average means of transport of the average American-and as we were riding, and as we were flying I asked what is going to be the main course. Now you may not know that I have deep historic reasons to inquire. And so I owe you an explanation.
You see in the darkest days of the Roman Empire there was a particularly cruel emperor who used to entertain his guests by starving lions for many weeks and then thrusting some unfortunate victim, a Christian or a Jew, into the arena and seeing the response of the lion. On this particular occasion he had starved the lion a full month. This was the biggest lion in the Roman Empire. He had not eaten for a month. And the emperor was sitting in his box, he orders the gates to be opened, he thrusts into the arena, in this case it was some Jew. The lion comes out, sees the Jew, salivates, begins to paw the sand, and just as he is about to pounce the Jew rushes to lion, whispers something in his ear, and the lion slinks back with his tail behind his legs like a kitten. And the crowd is going crazy, I mean wild, and they are all pointing to the emperor with their thumbs up. And the emperor looks at the crowd, he looks at the Jew and he calls to the Jew and he says, “I will give you your freedom, but you must tell me, what is it that you told the lion." And he said "oh its very simple I told him that you have to give a speech after dinner.”
Now there is nothing worse than, there is only one thing worse than hearing a speech after dinner, it’s giving it. And I’m forced to do this, but I won’t inflict too much on you. We flew down here, and I must say that yes it is a convenient way to get here, but I’m glad I’m here. And I’m glad to see all of you, and we had the opportunity to meet very briefly. I was force fed through the line and did not have the opportunity to expand but enough to see the kind of people who are here, and their values and their faith, and I was impressed by the opportunity to sit next to Governor Taft and so many of you. And so I’m going to do something that is absolutely out of character with people in public life. I’m actually going to talk about the subject that I was invited to talk about. And that is the sources of stability and instability in the 21st Century, our century.
Now when we say sources of stability and instability, what we really mean is how do we get peace? I want to talk to you about that. But in order to talk about how do we get peace in the 21st Century, and that is clearly something that is sorely lacking right now in our world, I have to fall back a couple of centuries earlier. When I was 14, I read a 50 page book, this is for the students, now pay attention. It’s only 50 pages. A 50 page tract written at a close of the 18th Century, by one of the greatest minds in the history of mankind. Can I say mankind here or do I, is that politically incorrect? Mankind, ok.
One of the greatest thinkers of all time, who wrote one of the most succinct essays that govern international relations in the modern period, his name was Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher. And he wrote an essay asking the question that we are asking tonight. He wrote an essay called Perpetual Peace, that is how do we get not a fading ephemeral peace? How do we get a peace that will last? And Kant answered this by first saying something quite startling. He said, you have to recognize that there are two kinds of peace in the world, not one. He said, there is peace with democracies and there is peace with dictatorships. And they are fundamentally different from one another.
He said peace with democracies is automatic it’s self-sustaining, you need do nothing to achieve it or to keep it; because democracies reflect the will of the majority and most people don’t want to go to war, and they don’t want their children to die on battlefields. So democracies through the electorate have an automatic check on aggression, on the aggression of their governments. And democracies, he said, automatically tend toward peace.
And then he asked, what is going to keep the peace, opposite a dictatorship. I mean there is no electorate, there is no bar, no constraint on aggression. I mean, Saddam Hussein does not take a poll in downtown Baghdad before he decides to invade Kuwait, right? So what’s going to stop aggression from a dictator? A dictator gets to be a dictator by practicing aggression against his own people; and what’s going to prevent him from practicing aggression against his neighbors? And Kant said, nothing. Absolutely nothing inside the dictatorship will prevent aggression and war. He said that the only thing that will prevent war, from a dictatorship is an outside constraint. An external constraint. Which he said would be the power of deterrence provided by what he called the league of free nations. By the way he didn’t say United Nations. He wasn’t, I told you that he was a brilliant man, he wouldn’t think something that stupid that the amalgamation of dictatorships and democracies would somehow stop aggression from dictatorships. Of course he understood that. But he meant that there would be the combined power of the democracies that would deter aggression or roll it back if deterrence failed.
This is the model that Kant had put forward over 200 years ago. Well before the rise of Napoleon and the rise of Stalin and Hitler and all these other lesser dictators that seek to imitate them. Now was anyone reading, listening, implementing Kant in the first half of the twentieth century? The answer is practically known. And faced with a horrific dictatorship of Nazi Germany, the democracies practiced the wrong kind of peace. Instead of strengthening themselves and building their deterrent power, they did the very opposite, they weakened themselves and weakened themselves and still weakened themselves. And of course, what they got was no peace. What they got was the most catastrophic war in history and of course the greatest catastrophe in the history of my own people, the Jewish people.
But equally I can say that in the second half of the twentieth century the democracies practiced the right kind of peace. Because faced with a still more powerful dictatorship, how can one compare the ballistic missiles and atomic warheads of the Soviet Union to the power of Nazi Germany. Yet faced with this much more powerful dictatorship, the democracies did exactly what Immanuel Kant said we should do two centuries before a century and a half before that. They built the league of free nations. You know it as NATO. And provided the deterrent power to maintain half a century of a cold peace. Of course we don’t call it a cold peace, we call it a cold war. But there was no war. There was no war because there was the deterrent power of the democracies that kept the peace opposite dictatorships. Now that is something that we can see in retrospect, and understand it and also celebrate it.
In fact in the early 90′s I read such a celebration of the victory of democracy over dictatorship in a brilliant article in one of the monthly intellectual magazines, neo-conservative magazine. This was a brilliantly written article. It said democratic Capitalism had won, Soviet Communism had been defeated and we’re well on the road to a period of harmony and development. And I called up the editor and I said “Norman,” well now you know who it is. I said “Norman, how did you publish such a brilliant piece of garbage?” “How did you publish this?” He said, “what do you mean?” He said “look you know I’m not a communist” that’s an understatement “and no one is as happy as I am about the demise of the Soviet Union.” But understand this. The Soviet Union was the last or perhaps the biggest stopgap against the rise of militant Islam. And militant Islam is in many ways a much more perfidious and more dangerous force than Soviet Communism, a much greater threat to the west. He said “you really think so?” I said, “Yes.” I said, “you should publish a correction.” I think they have now.
And here’s why I said it. Militant Islam seeks to roll back the last millennium, the last one thousand years of history. It seeks to go back to a world in which Islam was ascended and the West was subpar. It seeks to reverse the rise, especially in the last five hundred years, of western civilization as we know it. And it seeks to achieve this not by healthy competition of technology, economics, culture. But by destroying the West and destroying the West means destroying the main engine of the West which is the United States. That’s its goal. It is possessed with this goal. It wants to dominate the world and in this it is not different than Soviet communism. It also has millions of adherents and this too is not different from Soviet communism.
But I have to say this about the Soviets. Every time that they had to choose between their ideology and their survival, they always, always chose their survival. They always backed off. Cuba, Berlin, they always backed off. They might have killed millions, even tens of millions of their own people but they never, never took risks with the survival of their regimes, the overall survival of their societies. They always backed off.
The same cannot be said of militant Islam. Because very often faced with the choice of their zealotry or their lives, their survival, it’s not clear what they will choose. And that is why militant Islam produces suicide bombers. Do you ever heard of a communist suicide bomber? Never! But militant Islam produces battalions of them. Hordes of them. You have your mothers that hold up their children, their babies and say “I hope he will be a martyr for Allah,” you have suicide kindergarten camps, and suicide museums, and suicide glorification. You have in the Iran-Iraq war, people didn’t pay attention to this. In the Iran-Iraq war the Iranian soldiers were drinking from fountains of real blood. I’m not talking about colored water I’m talking about real blood. There is a culture of death, a cult of death that characterizes certain regimes in history. It characterizes this. And this pathology, there is no other term that I can use, this pathology of militant Islam, the fact that it knows no limits and the fact that it can prefer ideology to survival is what makes it so dangerous. Because if the regimes that espouse and are governed by this zealotry acquire the weapons of mass death they will use them.
I suppose a result of this conversation I had with that editor, I decided I’d write a book about this, about terrorism, about the danger of terrorism, and I wrote it in 1995. And I said this, that “if the threat of militant Islam is not understood in the West then the next thing that you’d see is not a car bomb in the World Trade Center but a nuclear bomb.” Well I was wrong. They didn’t use a nuclear bomb. They used two fully fueled 150 ton jetliners. Does anyone doubt that if the Taliban or Bin Laden had nuclear weapons that they would have used them on Manhattan and Washington? By the way I think they’d spare Ashland. I think you’re ok. For a while, for a while. You don’t doubt it. We now understand it.
So we are faced right now with a horrific threat; and the question is what do you do about it? The concrete expression of this threat today is in the terrorist network, the international terrorist network, and for that the answer is fairly simple, it’s not very hard. The answer for that is given to us by Immanuel Kant. The first thing you want to do is first of all look at the source of aggression and then roll it back. The source of aggression in this case is basically, how do you fight terrorism? You don’t fight terrorism by fighting the terrorists I hope you understand that. I mean you also fight the terrorists but they’re not really the main target. Because terrorism by its nature is like a needle in a haystack. So you don’t go looking for the needle, you go after the haystack.
Or to give you another analogy if you are attacked by kamikaze pilots off an aircraft carrier, of course you shoot down the kamikaze pilot. You’re crazy not to. And the next one who comes in. But he’ll be replaced by somebody else. If you want to stop these attacks, these kamikaze attacks, you’ve got to get at the carrier. And in attacking the carrier you can do one of two things, you can either punish it and make it go away. That’s called deterrence. Or you can sink it if deterrence doesn’t work. You either deter a regime, that’s the aircraft carrier, or you destroy it. These are the two options. There is no other way to fight terrorism. There are other things to do, but if you don’t do this you cannot win.
It so happens that this terrorist international, this bearer, this large Islamic militancy with its particular offshoots is composed of six carriers. That’s it. Six militant regimes: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan Arafatistan. That’s about it. That’s about it. With about two dozen terror organizations that harbor around them. So the way to fight this is exactly what the United States has done. You deter some regimes, Somalia, Syria. And you destroy others. You have begun to destroy, you’ve destroyed already the Taliban regime and you have a mop up operation of Al Qaeda becomes secondary.
And you-as President Bush has widely said-you’ll have to target the two big regimes Iran and Iraq, and especially before they acquire nuclear weapons. And he’s got it exactly right. So it ought to be fairly simple. And we by the way have to dismantle our own terrorist regime neighbor. With Arafat, what we have to do is what you did with Mullah Omar, or with Bin Laden. You scatter them. Get rid of them. Expel them. You can’t negotiate with somebody who preaches policide and suicide. Which is what Arafat does. You can’t negotiate with someone who’s out to destroy the state, and who doesn’t want to make peace with you.
If you want a comparison, we could easily make peace with an Arab leader who teaches peace and talks peace in Arabic to his own people. Easily. We did that with Anwar Sadat, we did that with King Hussein. I’ll never forget as long as I live the day that King Hussein of Jordan came with me to visit the families of six, no seven 12-year-old Israeli girls who were gunned down by a deranged Jordanian soldier. And he knelt before the bereaved families, the parents, and there were tears streaming in his eyes, and he was crying. He said, “please, please forgive me, please forgive me.” He brought money, he gave them money. And I knelt down beside them and I was crying too. It was enormously moving.
And yet if you see what Arafat does, he names public squares after these killers. He calls for a million suicide bombers. Not because I’m telling you, you can see it actually. Even on CNN, on Fox definitely. He has in his state controlled television that’s what you see. He talks in Arabic. That’s what he says, not what his con-artists say in English, I’m talking about what he says in Arabic to his people. He signs the checks for God’s sake, for the explosives. So with somebody who preaches policide the destruction of the state through the means of suicide, suicide and mass terror, what can you do?
Many had hoped that Arafat would become a Palestinian King Hussein, he turned out to be a Palestinian Saddam Hussein. What do you do with Saddam Hussein? You don’t negotiate with him, you don’t make concessions to him, you get rid of him. And when you do, when you get rid of the Taliban, when you get rid of Saddam, you can ask well what next? And the answer is you’re not sure. You’re not sure what will happen next. You don’t know who will govern Afghanistan in five years or even in three years, or perhaps even in three months. But you’re pretty sure of one thing. You’re pretty sure that whoever governs Afghanistan will not dispatch a single terrorist attack against the United States for fear that they too or he too, equal opportunity she, but I don’t think that’s going to happen in Afghanistan very soon. That they too will be replaced or killed or exiled. So you rely essentially on deterrence. That is you control these regimes you destroy these regimes and you effect deterrence on their replacement. And so far so good.
So Kant was right. And that’s what’s going to happen. And it’s going to work. And within a shorter time than people expect the minute you dismantle these half dozen regimes, dismantle, punish, dismantle or deter, you will see that the whole scaffolding of international terrorism collapses to the dust. Now you might have a few cells, a few poison grapes on the grape vine but once you cut the roots off they wither on the vine. You still may have an attack or attacks, but you’ve destroyed the structure. So we can now go back and rest. That is not true.
The more I look at this problem, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that Immanuel Kant was wrong. He was right for the 19th Century, he was right for the 20th Century, right as no other thinker has been so right. But he’s not right for the 21st Century because even a prophet like Kant could not foresee the development of suicidal regimes. He could not see the development of suicidal regimes with nuclear weapons. It is absolutely clear that we cannot cork the technological genie back in the bottle. We cannot do it. There is no way to prevent any one of these regimes from acquiring a critical mass of plutonium and producing a very primitive bomb. A very primitive and dirty bomb. It is impossible for any of these regimes to produce quickly or even through a lengthy process the equivalent weapons that western arsenals have.
But suppose they produce a dirty bomb that has ten percent of the yield of a conventional fusion bomb. Do you know what that means? I don’t think you want to know what it means. In Afghanistan in the caves they were trying to begin to assemble, in the caves, to assemble this material of death. It is just a question of time that they will have it in the future. And the question we have to ask is, if we destroy these regimes and leave it at that, what is going to prevent the return or the reappearance in ten years, fifteen years, twenty years of another Saddam, of another Bin Laden, or another Arafat. Arafat by the way who makes these human bomb factories, and human bombs. That’s a technique which like airline hijackings begins with us but soon very quickly spreads through the entire world. It took us twenty years to get rid of that phenomenon.
But this time you have a human bomb reappearing and in ten or fifteen years you have a human bomb appearing with a suitcase device that blows up half of Manhattan. It will happen. What is going to insure that it doesn’t re-happen? Because if you have a billion Muslims in the world and assume that only 5%, 10% are infected with the disease. That’s 100 million people. What is the protection against this kind of madness?
I think that in the end there is only one protection. And the only way we can glean a clue to what it is, is to go back to other diseased militancies, to other zealotries that knew no limit to power. Well the closest one I can think of is Nazism. Hitler knew no bounds to power, no moral constraints whatsoever on violence. And had he acquired atomic weapons its very clear he would have used them and history would have taken a different course. Now what did the democracies do with Nazism? They defeated it, and once vanquished they didn’t leave it. They defeated it; and they planted the seeds of freedom, the seeds of democracy. They built democratic institutions. They de-Nazified Germany and built democratic institutions. There is neo-Nazis in Germany, there are those, that tendency is there, but it doesn’t get anywhere because that society is ventilated by the natural process of debate, dissent, discussion and choice. That democracies give you.
The same thing happened with imperial Japan, which by the way had clear suicidal tendencies. What happened there? Imperial Japan was defeated but you didn’t leave it at that. It was defeated and in its place we planted the seeds of freedom. And you have democracy. It’s not a western democracy exactly, but its democracy.
I’m arguing that once these regimes are defeated it is important for the United States to begin to introduce into the Arab and Islamic world the idea of democracy, the idea of pluralism, the idea of a free press, the idea of individual rights, that a baby is born with individual rights with a right to life. It is important to begin to introduce these conceptions because at the end they are the only guard that we have against the repetition of the madness with greater venom and greater force the way a cancer comes back if you don’t extirpate it, it comes back sometimes with even greater toxicity. This has to be done.
Now people will say, “well the Islamic world is incapable of adopting democracy.” Really? It may not be a perfect western democracy. What about Turkey? I’d much rather, given the choice always I’d prefer Turkish style democracy to Iranian style tyranny. But I think the choice that we face today is whether we’re going to stop the exemption that the United States has given to the Arab and Islamic world. To take action today against these tyrannies. To begin not only to defeat them but also to plant democracy there. I think this is something that is requiring of the bold and courageous leadership that the United States has today, and I’m very glad that it has it.
Now everything that I said right now could be challenged. And if you’re not going to do the challenging, I’m going to do the challenging. And you can say well Mr. Netanyahu you think that the source of terrorism is these dictators. But the real root cause of terrorism; you ever hear that term? Come on you watch CNN sometimes. The real root cause of terrorism is nothing like that. The root cause of terrorism is deprivation of natural rights, and human rights, and civic rights, and it’s this frustration of these people who do not have these rights that they must act out. And that is what you should treat and if you treat that, then you won’t have terrorism. Did you ever hear that? All right.
You can always say that to people who have no, well they have a historic memory that I say reaches back to breakfast, sometimes to lunch. See and the last 200 years in the modern period we’ve had thousands of conflicts for human rights for national liberation, for independence, thousands, literally thousands. So we’d expect to see a lot of terrorism in these conflicts right? But it’s very hard to see terrorism in practically any of them. That is terrorism; the deliberate and systematic attack on civilians. It’s very hard to see. In the 19th Century you don’t find it in the Poles fighting the Russians, you don’t see it in the Italians fighting for their independence, you don’t see it with the Czechs fighting for their liberation from the Hungarians and so on. You don’t see it. A lot of battles against armies very brave, very courageous, but not the systemic destruction, the murder of women, children, innocent civilians. Nothing.
In the 20th Century it’s very hard to find it. You don’t see it. You don’t see it with Mahatma Gandhi fighting for independence from Britain, you don’t see it with the peoples of eastern Europe fighting to tear down the Berlin wall, you don’t see it in the fight for civic rights for all Americans in this country. Martin Luther King preach terrorism, that’s ridiculous. He preached the absence of violence. You don’t see it in the worst occupation of history. The worst occupation of history should have by necessity promoted terrorism. That’s the Nazi occupation of Europe. I don’t know of a single case, of one case, in which the French resistance, for example, practiced terrorism. They had plenty of opportunities, they had the wives and children of German officers, the families of collaborators with the Nazis, they never touched them. The question is why? Why did all these people who evidently fought for freedom and for human rights and for liberty, why didn’t they practice terrorism?
And the answer is that they were democrats. I know there are a lot of Republicans here, I mean that with a small “d.” Well some of them were with a capital “D,” but that’s not relevant. They were democrats they believed in the innate rights, the rights of man, and women and babies. They believe that there are limits to power. I read that one of the things that Ashland, the AshbrookCenter explains that they try to teach in this college is the limited powers of government. That’s right. Democracies always limit power. You see but the terrorists don’t believe in these things. People who deliberately target civilians. That’s what terrorists are.
They don’t believe in all these things, in fact, they believe the very opposite. They think there is a higher goal out there that is so total, so encompassing, so powerful, so commanding and commandeering that for the sake of this goal which could be political, or racial or religious or whatever they can crush indeed they are required to crush all conventional morality. Crush all human rights, trample them into the dust if necessary, and for the sake of this goal whatever it is, this cause they can do anything and everything, and they brainwash their disciples to do just that. To kill people, line them up against a wall and shoot them, blow up a bus full of babies, anything. In fact, the more savage it is the more they ennoble that goal.
There is a name for the phenomenon that I have just described to you. It is called totalitarianism. Totalitarianism, the totalitarian mindset is the root cause of terrorism. And from its inception from Bukharin, to Lenin, to Stalin, to Hitler, to the Ayatollahs, to Mullah Omar, the Taliban regime, it’s a classic totalitarian regime, to Bin Laden, to Arafat. All these dictatorships used terror, by the way not only against their enemies, against their own people. You know what they’re really about when terrorists people who practice terrorism come to power they don’t set up democracies. They set up the darkest dictatorships. The root cause of terrorism is the totalitarian mindset. And the root cause of suicidal terrorism is suicidal totalitarianism. If we leave this suicidal totalitarianism unventilated, cloistered, in this last part of the world that is not experienced the winds of democracy. And for God’s sake the whole world is democratized. South America, Latin America, democratized and if anybody deviates the U.S. goes in there gangbusters, and they’re right. The Soviet Union is democratized. The U.S. agitates for human rights and democratization in China, South Africa, and parts of Africa are democratizing. Albania, for God’s sake is democratized, remember Albania? Mongolia.
If we leave this last region of the world un-democratized, unventilated by the winds of freedom, we are toying with our common survival. Not with Israel’s survival, but the survival of our civilization. So we have to do now two things. We have to uproot terror, and plant the seeds of freedom. This is the job before us. I have every confidence, when I look at the free peoples of the world and especially at America, at Israel and others, and at the leadership provided by President Bush, that we’re up to the task. And armed with moral clarity, and strategic clarity and the will to win, we will win and safeguard our future. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Question and Answer
Dr. Peter Schramm
A couple of questions, a very difficult one. Where did the nickname Bibi come from?
I haven’t the faintest idea.
Dr. Peter Schramm
Please give your views as to the appropriateness of America’s response to September 11th. What is our major flaw in the campaign?
I think President Bush has had moral clarity and strategic clarity. Which means that moral clarity means that he says that terrorism is always evil, there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists, terrorists are always evil. And that is important. And that nothing justifies terrorism, nothing. Not the real or purported or professed views of the terrorists, nothing justifies terrorism. That’s moral clarity, he’s got it right.
The second thing is he’s got strategic clarity in going after the regimes and then mopping up with the terrorists.
The third thing I think is the imperative for victory which means that you go after these targets until you win and you don’t stop. For example, America was told that if it bombs Afghanistan in the Ramadan, your’re going to get a billion Muslims up in arms, and you’re going to get thousands and tens of thousands of militants streaming into Afghanistan. Well President Bush being not so sophisticated as some of his critics, bombed Afghanistan during the Ramada, and you know what there was a tremendous flow of people-out of Afghanistan. Everybody was running away. And so it is important to understand that victory breeds victory, and that it is important in order to shrink the pool of potential recruits of the terrorists that you inspire in their ranks not hope, but despair. Despair that they won’t ever achieve their twisted goals through the use of terror and intimidation. That’s what you need. The solution of terrorism is not hope, but despair. Because the root cause of terrorism is violent totalitarianism that has to know that it will never win the day.
In all of this I think the U.S. is doing fine. I think that it is trying to purchase an artificial respite in the middle east before the go after Saddam and somebody’s persuaded them that they should give Arafat a reprieve. That ain’t going to work. You don’t dismantle one terrorist regime by creating another one, or resuscitating another one. But we’ll get that right, that’s an argument between friends. We’ll get it right. Don’t worry.
In your opinion will the quartet so-called, lead to a Palestinian state and peace in the middle east?
What’s the quartet? Oh you mean the foreign ministers of the four parties. No I don’t think so. I don’t think it will lead to peace because as long as Arafat is there and his totalitarian mindset we’re not going to have peace. As I said every time we met an Arab leader who talked peace not to the west but to his own people and meant it we achieved peace rather quickly. We’re willing to make significant concessions and sacrifices for it probably greater concessions were never made by any country. Certainly by any victor in wars. Can you imagine any country giving up all its oil? You try that. We did. We gave it in exchange for peace with Egypt, but we believed in the sincerity of Anwar Sadat. And of course as I said Arafat is not a Sadat, he’s a Saddam. That’s very clear.
So as long as Arafat is there, he will continue to, he’s the generator. He will continue to recharge the terrorist cells. And continue to inculcate this hatred to his people. So I believe that any attempt to engage in a process intended to achieve peace, with Arafat will achieve the very opposite. And I think he simply has to be expelled. I don’t think that he has to be killed. I do think he has to go. On this by the way the mainstream of the Israeli public is evenly divided. Half want to kill him, half want to expel him. I want to put him on that ship. Remember the ship “Karine” which he got from his friends the Iranians. I say put him on the ship and return that ship to its rightful owners. That is what I would do and I’m not being facetious, I think it’s important. Because nothing else, no matter what they give you, and all the spins, and a momentary six hours rush on Wall Street, it’s not going to change this. Because there is that totalitarian rule destroying Israel.
See Arafat, as I told the students-a wonderful session for me-I just inflicted they hurt. As I told them a few hours ago, Arafat established the PLO three years before Israel took the West Bank Judea, and Samaria and Gaza in a war of self-defense. Three years. All these areas that they’re now complaining are the cause of the conflict were quote liberated. They were in Arab hands. So why did he establish the PLO? There wasn’t a single Israeli settlement, there wasn’t a single Israeli soldier there. He established it three years before because his real goal then as now, was to liberate the Middle East from Israel’s presence, any Israel, at any size.
And that’s why when he was offered a year and a half ago all of the West Bank, and Gaza and the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and not the freezing of settlements but the uprooting of dozens of settlements, bad negotiations by an Israeli government by the way I wouldn’t negotiate this way. But it was offered. He turned it down, no he didn’t turn it down he pocketed it and said well now I want the remainder. I don’t want a state next to Israel. I want a state instead of Israel. That’s his overriding goal for which he prepares his suicide bombers and so on.
And when somebody, you can make peace with an enemy, but only with an enemy that wants peace. An enemy that wants to use the peace process as a vehicle to destroy you is giving you a false peace and the result will be like the false peace of the 20th century. I mean you’ve had some of the greatest catastrophes were proceeded by peace treaties and peace conferences that were great celebrations but turned out to be nothing but preludes to disaster. Munich is the most famous among them but there are many more that people are not familiar with. So in order to have a genuine peace process you need a genuine peace partner, and as long as Arafat is there we won’t have the beginning of peace and we won’t have the end to terror. So no not the quartet or the quintup, no whatever it is, quintet, or sextet, it doesn’t make any difference unless you have that component it will not lead to peace. Arafat has to go. Yeah.
Dr. Peter Schramm
On a more particular point what is the renewed interesting relationship between Israel and Turkey?
Well it’s been going now for about a decade and it’s based on our common interests. And I think you can understand based on what I’ve said tonight what that common interest is. Turkey is beset also by the threat of terrorism until recently from Syria actually. Syria’s supporting Kurdish terrorist groups who are based in Syria and marauding into Turkey, and Syria of course was beset also by militant Islam, that was trying to roll back all the tremendous progress that has been made in Turkey. And I think that from any other point of view these are the two strongest economies in the Middle East. We are a very powerful, high-tech power actually in the world today. And Turkey is the biggest economy, and not accidentally these are also the two freest economies in the Middle East. Because they’re free they’re prospering. So I think that there was a natural partnership there, and it goes on, and I hope that it continues to go on. That doesn’t mean that Turkey doesn’t often take the formal position and criticize us, and so on. After all it has an Islamic population. But Turkey, as I said, Turkish style democracy, which is pretty much at baseline, governed by the army, but with degrees of freedom both in the press and of course in the economy. I think that is a fairly stable arrangement, and could serve as a model for other things. And of course for Israel this is a key interest, we’d much rather have Turkey’s around us, than Iran or Iraq.
Dr. Peter Schramm
Related to the previous question, will it be possible for you to privatize the economy of Israel when you become Prime Minister.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this but I’ve been Prime Minister, and I engaged in a massive privatization program. I privatized about four billion dollars worth, for an economy the size of Israel that’s a lot. And that was about four times what had been privatized in Israel for the previous 47 years. You may wonder how it is done. I didn’t tell you Governor the secrets of our politics.
When you have a system like ours, which is the worst system in the world by the way, it is not a presidential system with an uptoppleable President. Well you can impeach him but I mean I’m not talking about that, ok? You have what is called a proportional system, a parliamentary system, so with one of the smallest Parliaments in the world, so if you have a majority say of 6, you have 120 members in our Parliament, so if you have 61 is a majority and 66 is a typical majority. Any one of those 6 guys is holding a gun; in fact any one of the 66 is holding a gun to the Prime Minister’s head, right? So how do you govern in something like that? Kind of hard.
Well here’s the secret. The only way you govern in a system like ours, or effect reforms like liberalization of the economy is you got to recognize that you have a very little time. It’s called a first day. When you make the coalition agreement you install all those reforms, and if anyone wants to join the coalition, the government, they have to agree to privatization, agree to this, agree to that, and you pass the laws right away. The rest is called momentum. But you start the ball rolling on day one, and if you’re not ready and you don’t know you lose it. So any people who plan to run in Israeli politics, if you come talk to me, I’ll tell you what to do to be a future prime minister, the fifty students who are there. It might help you in America too, but it’s different.
Dr. Peter Schramm
What is in your opinion the portrayal of Israel in the American mass media?
A lot better than in Europe. Thank God. It’s not bad. I think that instinctively Americans understand who are the terrorists and who are the democrats, again with a small “d.” I think that they have an instinctive repore, and more than instinctive I think it’s a question of shared values. And even though there is a tremendous curtain of can’t, I don’t mean Immanuel Kant, I mean with a “c.” There is a tremendous attempt to falsify history, including recent history, and ancient history. An attempt also to reverse causality, which means to portray the results of Arab aggression as their causes, that means that if you ask Arabs today “why are you attacking me?” “Why are the Palestinians attacking Israel?” They’ll say it’s because of the settlements. Yeah but there wasn’t as I’ve said a single settlement in ’67 that was the result of their aggression against us. And then you say well “why did they attack Israel between 1948-1967, from its inception until the six day war?” They say it’s because of the refugees. Well there wasn’t single refugee until 5 Arab armies attacked the embryonic state of Israel in 1948.
These are the results of Arab aggression, which are being reversed always and portrayed as their cause. So that, it’s not easy to fight, and it’s particularly difficult to fight because although Arafat has the distinction of being the only terrorist leader in the world who is both Bin Laden and Mullah Omar, he’s both a perpetrator and a harborer of terrorists. He’s the only one. There’s no one else. Everyone is one or the other; he’s the only one that is both. He is however, a Mullah Omar and a Bin Laden with PR. That’s what distinguishes him. So he’s got these guys, these con-artists, who appear on American television and say to you “well chairman Arafat condemns suicidal terrorism.” I wonder when? When he calls for a million suicide bombers? Here’s a mass killer who gets away with it in Europe, but he doesn’t get away with it in the United States. For some reason the American people have this ability to, well you know if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck, then it’s a terrorist.
Dr. Peter Schramm
Can you comment on the Anti-Semitism that is rearing its ugly head again in Europe? Contemporary Europe.
Well a lot of it is Islamic Anti-Semitism that is the burgeoning Islamic communities in Europe that are leading the charge and the violence the burning of synagogues and so on. In France in particular buy not only there. But some of it is just plain old-fashioned European Anti-Semitism. I think too that there’s something particularly shameful in Europe because here you have a continent that 60 years ago didn’t lift a finger to prevent the slaughter of 6 million Jews by a mass killer. And now 60 years later, when another mass killer is sending terrorists to murder our children in schools, coffee shops, and restaurants and Passover night, the deliberate slaughter of civilians, they side with the killer. And when Israel takes the actions of self-defense that any democracy would take, in fact you take except with one exception.
What you do, see what terrorists do; terrorists deliberately target civilians and deliberately hide behind civilians seeking immunity. And no one in his right mind would give them that immunity but you try to minimize the civilian casualties as you take action to root them out. So in Afghanistan what does the U.S. do? It gives a warning to the civilian population and says if you don’t get out of these strongholds you know you will be hurt. And so they bomb. We didn’t bomb from the air. We don’t have the American Air Force, but we have a very massive air power, very. We didn’t bomb, we put our troops on the ground at risk. And we went house to house, and many of our soldiers have died because these places are booby trapped, because you have a kid running, ten-years-old, to them so they hold their fire, and the kid explodes. Some 13 soldiers died like that in Jenin.
And then you have the Europeans and the U.N.-that’s quite a combination-call for fact-finding mission on the massacre in Jenin, there was no massacre in Jenin. Probably the number of civilians killed there doesn’t exceed a dozen. But they never ask for a fact-finding mission on the endless number of proven massacres done by Arafat. Can you imagine a fact-finding mission on Afghanistan, ordered by the Taliban? That’s what you have. So this behavior that you see in Europe that is amplified in the U.N. I think, I think, history will be very unkind to both Europe and the U.N. It should be.
Dr. Peter Schramm
How has recent conservative Christian support for Israel changed U.S. public opinion on the war in the Mid East?
I think that, I think that the support Israel enjoys from the Christian community in America. And by the way in 12 other countries including by the way in Europe, I should balance what I said, there’s tremendous Christian support for example in Scandinavia, in Holland, in Britain. Great communities, including in Asia, great communities. Millions of people. But obviously nothing compares with the support of tens of millions of Christians in the United States. And I should say of non-Jews in general in the United States.
See everybody thinks that American support for Israel comes from the Jewish lobby. No dummies! Those who think that. It comes from the non-Jewish lobby, that’s the greater support. You talk to Congress. Talk to Congressmen, Senators. Talk to them about the response that they get from their constituents. And the reason that is the case is because there is so many Americans who feel this empathy with Israel, and the reason they feel this empathy is I think because there is a difference. An innate difference between the way that the Europeans view Israel, and the way Americans view Israel. The Europeans view Israel from the prism of their formative experience in international affairs which is colonialism. So every European country, practically every European country has had the experience of colonialism and everybody knows colonialism is bad. The American formative experience in international affairs was not colonialism it was nation building.
This is the new Promised Land. We’re the original Promised Land. This is the new Jerusalem. We’re the original Jerusalem. This is the greatest democracy. We’re the only democracy in the Middle East. There is a basic affinity of values of the average American with Israel. That’s why in every opinion poll for 40, no, 54 years, every opinion poll it doesn’t change. In fact it gets better.
The appearance, or the American favoring of Israel is about 5 to 1, sometimes 6 to 1 compared to say the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat gets about 2%. We’re in good shape. In Europe it is not the case because they think that our being in our ancestral homeland that we’re somehow in the Belgian Congo or in Algeria. This is Judea for God’s sake. That’s where the word Jew comes from, that’s where my ancestors have been for thousands of years. We’re supposed to be these strange interlopers that completely reverse history. Well there is nothing, there is not that kind of impulse in America. There is that impulse in Europe, and there I think that explains the difference more than just the daily occurrences. I think there’s a healthy appreciation of Americans.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most Americans are fair-minded, we talked about this over dinner. They don’t have a closed mind, they open their minds they look at the facts they judge the merits of the case and they can see through a false argument. They want to see if it’s true and if it’s logical. And if it is they support you. And so we can make our case to the American people. It’s much harder in Europe. I’ve come to the conclusions that most Americans come from Missouri. They all say "show me" If you show them, they’re ok.
Dr. Peter Schramm
Do you foresee and Israeli controlled Jerusalem with a restored functioning temple?
Jewish sovereignty, Israeli sovereignty over the city, yes with full access to all three states. That’s only been guaranteed in the millennial history of Jerusalem only under Israel. When the crusaders were there they destroyed the synagogues and the mosques and barred both Muslims and Jews out. When the Muslims were there they destroyed the churches and the synagogues and had only Muslims there. The only time that you had all three faiths have complete and free and unfettered access to their holy places is under Israel. That is something that will continue.
So I would like to see continued Israeli political sovereignty, and I would fight for it of course, in our ancestral and eternal capital Jerusalem. It’s only been the capital of the Jewish people, and no one else. But with the guaranteed rights of all free religions. I do not however, foresee the rebuilding of the temple and I don’t advise to do that. That is not a good idea. That might ignite a religious war, that I don’t think any one of us is interested in that.
You realize that temple is, the A1 Aqsa Mosque is sitting on where the temple was. So we’d have to take down the Mosque to build the temple. Not a good idea.
Dr. Peter Schramm
And the last question, a more general one you’ve touched on this, but in case you want to pick up any aspect of it, how would you rate President Bush’s performance thus far? If any advise to him, if he asked you for any advise, which I suppose he might, what would it be?
Well I would say it’s a lot better than his predecessors.
Let me add one other thing that I was asked before both by the students and also by Mr. Ridenour. He wanted to know about the role of propaganda. And I think that Israel has been derelict, it’s been derelict now for many decades. Especially in Europe but also in America to some extent. It is been a failure of Israel, and it’s a typical failure of democracies. To recognize that in the modern period there is this relationship. You cannot cement a military victory unless you can cement it with a political victory. And you cannot anchor a political victory unless you can anchor it in public opinion. But you cannot anchor it in public opinion unless you persuade that public opinion that your cause is just. And the cause of your opponent is unjust. Now it doesn’t make any difference if your cause is just or unjust.
For example, when Hitler had to overcome a military obstacle that he could not overcome in the heart of Europe he resorted to this sequence. There was in the center of Europe a range of mountains called the SudetenMountains. They were completely blocking his planned advance. They were governed by a small democracy but a very brave one called Czechoslovakia. It was small; but it had a powerful army and a powerful armaments industry and they were controlling the mountain passes and there was no way the Vera mach told him that you can overcome this military.
So Hitler recognized the sequence that I just described and he said I’ll overcome this military obstacle. I’ll reverse it with a political victory; And the way I’ll get the political pressure on Czechoslovakia to cede those mountains is by exerting pressure on public opinion that keeping those mountains in Czechoslovakia’s hands is unjust, and ceding them to the Germany minority that is on those mountains is just.
And so he did just that. And he began a campaign directed at the relevant sources of public opinion of the day which were of course Britain and France. And he said that you were not going to have peace in Europe or justice, unless you give self-determination to the Sudeten Germans, that German minority who are fighting for their just independence, and no this had nothing to do with Germany.
Of course he was meeting the leader of the Sudeten German’s end line in the basement of the Reichstag. Just about every month. And this campaign took hold and eventually of course the West put tremendous pressure of Czechoslovakia they ceded the Sudeten mountains to Hitler, or to the Sudeten Germans who promptly unified with Hitler. Hitler walked into Prague bloodlessly and from there began the conquest of Europe.
Now it is absolutely true that Israel has failed to understand that its military victories have been left to be nibbled away at by Arab propaganda that reverses the course of history, ancient and modern as well and robs us of our, the just cause that we have. It is also true that America faces a similar problem. For America to continue to fight the terrorists, to fight Iraq, to go on and dismantle the Iranian regime, to take care of the other knowns, you have to constantly persuade the American people and other peoples of the justice of your cause against the calumnies that will be leveled against you. And the typical calumny that is leveled against you is that you are the terrorist. They are not the terrorist you’re the terrorist because you’re killing more civilians. And that may be true for all I know, but that is not terrorism.
In 1944 the Royal Air Force bombed the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen and the pilots missed and the British pilots killed 83 children. Burned them horribly. That is no terrorism. That is the incidental accompaniment of any war, of tragic civilian casualties. But the terrorists don’t hit civilians accidentally, they hit them by design, by purpose, day in, day out. If you don’t fight that battle, if you don’t fight it constantly, fighting for the justice of your cause, articulating those ends, this battle against terrorism which can be won fairly easily in the foreground, the first stage that I described, for it to be won you constantly have to win the moral high ground.
The battles of democracy against wily dictatorships is always a battle for public opinion. In order to make sure that you have the necessary following. So leaders of democracies and especially the leaders of the United States have an additional role it is not merely prosecuting the war, it is also prosecuting the moral war to explain that your cause is just and that the enemies that you are fighting are unjust. That’s why when you see Secretary Rumsfeld every three days or so, he’s doing a good job. I really like that man. Well I like anybody who is asked by journalists “why are you bombing the Taliban?” and he responds, “to kill them for God’s sake.”
But it is that moral clarity that is required. And on the way over here I was asked who was the leader I respected most, and I said Secretary Rumsfeld and I thought they were asking me about people presently in power, and I like him and I respect President Bust enormously.
But I must tell you that two of the leaders who made a profound impression on me and I had the privilege to work with one of them, actually with both of them, at some time. With one directly and with the other indirectly, were President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I think they have understood everything that we talked about. They understood the primacy of liberty, for security and peace in our world. They had the moral clarity to understand what was just and what was not just. They had the ability to communicate that moral vision to their peoples and to stand up squarely against their detractors and their enemies, and the enemies of freedom.
And they summoned I think great changes. Margaret Thatcher in the history of Britain. And Ronald Reagan by winning the greatest victory, the greatest bloodless victory in history against the mightiest empire because of that moral clarity. I think that is the most important ammunition that we as a free people have and I think this is possibly the greatest contribution that AshlandCollege can make and the AshbrookCenter can make for the young minds and hearts that are here. Because they too can be leaders who will bring moral clarity to our world. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Kind of leaves you breathless. That was just wonderful Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much. I’d like you all to remain seated while Mr. Netanyahu departs. And thank you again for coming. Take care and God Bless you.