Edition


Vol. 55, No. 4

In this edition

by LOU ZICKAR With the Taliban once again in control of Afghanistan and America marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, The Ripon Forum examines “The Lessons of 9/11” and what has been learned — and not learned — from that tragic and fateful day.

A MEETING TO REMEMBER

On September 11, 2001, 10 members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for breakfast at the Pentagon. This is their story.

We Cannot Create a Safe Haven For Terrorists

President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan allows, and even accelerates, the nation returning to the conditions that permitted the 9/11 terrorist attack to happen in the first place.

We Cannot Be Complacent in the Face of New Threats

Twenty years after the horrific attacks of September 11th, we are once again facing an Afghanistan that will serve as a refuge and training ground for terrorists.

We Cannot Change the Past, but We Must Learn From It

The American people know that what happens over half a world away can have a direct impact on their safety. It happened on 9/11, and it can happen again.

We Must Always Honor Our Commitments to Our Allies and Friends

President Biden’s ill-advised, disorganized, and dishonorable flight from Afghanistan makes America less safe, and raises questions about our resolve and credibility around the world.

We Must Never Again Underestimate Our Enemy

We downplayed the threat of terrorism 20 years ago and Americans paid the price with their lives. This is a mistake that we cannot repeat if we hope to prevent future attacks.

We Need to Be Unified Against All Threats, Both Foreign and Domestic

America came together in the weeks and months following 9/11, and we need to do the same in the face of continuing threats overseas and increasing threats here at home.

Measuring the Effectiveness of the War on Terror

Are we eliminating more terrorists than are being created? Unfortunately, no one seems to know.

From Unity After 9/11 to the Threat of Homegrown Terror Today

by JAVED ALI The terrorist threat in America has evolved in a way that seemed unimaginable 20 years ago.

Preparing for the Next Biological Threat

Despite the threat, funding for some of our key biodefense initiatives overseas atrophied.

Ripon Profile of August Pfluger

The first-term Congressman from Texas’s 11th District discusses his service in the military, his new career on Capitol Hill, and how the attacks of September 11, 2001 affected both.

We Cannot Change the Past, but We Must Learn From It

Twenty years ago, on a bright, clear-skied September morning, our nation was attacked.

Many of us probably remember where we were on that fateful, horrific day. I know I do.

That morning, I was at home in Red Oak, Iowa with my nearly two-year-old daughter. We weren’t watching TV at the time, until my neighbor Wanda called and told me to turn it on. I instantly saw the horrible events unfolding right in front of us—and those images will forever be burned in my mind.

The second phone call I got was from my Iowa Army National Guard unit. “Captain Ernst, we’re doing a 100 percent accountability check. We need you to stay by the phone all day, so we know how we can get ahold of you.”

It was an experience many of us had never felt before—the terrifying shock of knowing that the country we love and our fellow Americans were under siege.

Lessons Learned.

Before 9/11, Osama bin Laden told the world al-Qaeda was at war with America. It’s clear now that we were not adequately prepared to address al-Qaeda’s threat to our country, and prevent the attack from happening in the first place.

We cannot change the past, but we must learn from it.

It is absolutely imperative that we remain vigilant to the potential consequences of the rushed pullout from Afghanistan.

As a combat veteran who commanded troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I had the honor of serving alongside a number of brave women and men who risked life and limb in defense of our nation. For the past 20 years, the servicemembers who have served in the Global War on Terror have taken the fight to the enemy so that our homeland would be saved from further attacks.

For two decades, these troops have succeeded. They led the response to 9/11, caught Osama bin Laden, and kept foreign terrorists off our shores.

The haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan has left many of these heroes feeling as though their sacrifices were all for naught, their efforts continuously erased with every passing day under a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

There is now a void in Afghanistan that the Taliban and other violent extremist organizations are primed to exploit. As we’ve already seen, these bloodthirsty terrorists — the same terrorists that sponsored Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the attacks on our homeland 20 years ago — will stop at nothing to imperil the lives of American citizens and our Afghan allies.

The American people know that what happens over half a world away can have a direct impact on their safety.

It is absolutely imperative that we remain vigilant to the potential consequences of the rushed pullout from Afghanistan. The American people know that what happens over half a world away can have a direct impact on their safety. With our adversaries emboldened, the Taliban reinvigorated, and the threat of violent extremist organizations looming large, we must remain clear-eyed about the persistent threats jeopardizing our national security. American lives are hanging in the balance. We simply cannot afford to let our guard down.

Never Forget.

Our adversaries sought to tear us apart with their cowardly acts on September 11, 2001. But instead, they brought us together as Americans. When our nation and the entire world seemed to stop on 9/11, firefighters, police officers, first responders, and ordinary citizens rushed into danger and courageously put their lives on the line to save countless others.

In the days that followed 9/11, America made a pledge to never forget the sacrifice of these selfless heroes — and the nearly 3,000 victims who lost their lives in the attacks. We also must never take for granted all that our military men and women have given in the fight against terrorism over the last 20 years.

It truly cannot be said enough: I am forever grateful for the brave Americans who answered the call to protect our nation, their families, and those who still carry the burdens of war.

We will never forget. That is our sacred promise.

Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate and a former commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, is the junior senator from Iowa and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.