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From John Lenczowski: On the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

Dear Friends of IWP,

While our country mourns those we lost ten years ago to terrorist violence, we must also remember key lessons of the recent past.  

To avoid any such attacks in the future, we must avoid sending signals of weakness to our potential enemies, particularly those which we call “provocative weaknesses.”  These were precisely the kinds of signals that we had sent to the radical Islamists during the previous decade.  

  • We failed to respond effectively to several major terrorist attacks – particularly the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and the bombing of the USS Cole.  
  • In dreamy hopes of enjoying the post-Cold War peace dividend, we decimated the clandestine service of the CIA.
  • We lost major public diplomacy capabilities when we shut down the U.S. Information Agency in 1999.
  • We did nothing to show the Islamic world other dimensions of American life than those hedonistic aspects portrayed by our popular culture.  

Altogether, we gave the terrorists much reason to believe that we were sufficiently vulnerable and that their strategy could succeed.  

This means that the United States must always maintain a credible deterrent, and strong intelligence services so that “vigilance” is not a meaningless word.  We must also sustain a capability to communicate with the world those messages that would demonstrate the continued existence of moral strength and seriousness which give credibility to our material instruments of deterrence.  Finally, we must also convey to the world the benevolent global purposes of the United States, specifically that we are not a conquering imperial power.  

Our decade-long experience of fighting terrorist organizations yields one final, and largely unacknowledged lesson – that combatting terrorist groups is only partly a military and an intelligence problem.  A central front in the war is the battle over whether extremist groups will succeed in recruiting new cadres.  These are battles of information, propaganda, ideas, ideologies, and even religious doctrines, which go on not only overseas, but also here at home.  We will continue to ignore these battlefields at our peril.

IWP is here to ensure that such lessons are not forgotten, and that they are incorporated into the strategic thinking of so many who are currently serving and plan to serve the vital interests of our country.  

We remember with sadness the innocent who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.  And we remember with gratitude those who sacrificed their lives and their good health in service of our country over the last decade.  Finally, we remember and honor the families and friends of all who have been adversely affected by this conflict.  


John Lenczowski
Founder and President