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Bin Ladin's Greatest Mistake

September 15, 2001

A SLEEPING GIANT. Imperial Admiral Yamamoto, who conceived, designed and promoted the Pearl Harbor attack, cautioned against a war with the United States. Having twice held naval attache positions within the Japanese embassy in the U. S. Capitol, he knew well the industrial strength, material wealth and temperament of the United States. Overruled by his superiors, he dedicated his efforts as Commander in Chief of the Imperial Combined Fleet to a successful attack. Upon completion of the attack he is quoted as saying, "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve." (From the Pearl Harbor Day Page, www.ccdemo.org/MtDiablo/PearlHarbor/PearlHarborDay.html).

Osama bin Laden, referred to by many as a brilliant tactician, is actually a very stupid person. Yes, he mounted a successful attack on the most powerful nation ever seen on this earth. And, yes, he was so secretive that our intelligence agencies had no warning of his treachery. But truly intelligent people learn from history. Stupid people, however "brilliant," ignore history at their own peril.

Prior to dawn on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the U.S. Congress, along with most Americans, was very isolationist. They were against any U.S. involvement in what many referred to as the "Europeans’ War." The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor changed that in an instant. It brought an immediate reaction of unprecedented unity from the American people. Families from every class sent their sons and daughters to war and women joined the industrial work force. No one was untouched by the effort to bring all of the United States’ resources to bear upon the war effort.

Sixty years later, at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001, bin Laden made his greatest mistake; the same mistake the rulers of Japan made in 1941. In one cowardly stroke, he killed more than twice as many Americans as the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. Unwittingly, he re-awakened the sleeping giant of America’s terrible fury, causing a unity of our people not seen since World War II. In doing so, he signed not only his own death sentence, but that of thousands of other terrorists and supporters of terror.

The parallels do not end there. The war on terrorism did not begin when President Bush declared it following the attacks on America. It has been fought for years by other nations. Although the United States has suffered from the attacks of foreign terrorists, no successful foreign terrorist attack has ever been mounted on U.S. soil. So just as with the "Europeans’ War," we have been content to let other nations, such as Israel and England, fight the war on terrorism. All that changed on September 11, 2001. It changed because Osama bin Laden and his masters ignored history. It changed because they did not understand the wrath that would follow.

Listen carefully to the words of our President, his counselors, and our legislators. To a man, they use the word "War" in every press conference. President Bush speaks with steely resolve of a protracted, full-scale attack on the very foundations of terrorism. He has stated that the War on Terrorism will be the focus of his administration. He’s not talking about a few days or a few weeks. He’s not concerned about Americans or the media losing interest and moving on to other things. He will not stop until terrorism has been dealt a death blow.

So don’t expect a quick, showy, "surgical strike" to take out bin Ladin and a few of his men and make America feel better. This war will take years. It will be fought on multiple fronts. It’s weapons will be many and varied. Our allies will include every civilized nation on earth. The uncivilized nations will tremble in fear. In this context I refer to those nations that promote and support terrorism as the uncivilized, for terrorism is an assault on civilization itself. The leaders of nations such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and others that are known to harbor terrorists have good reason to fear.

It was easy for America to find and punish those responsible for Pearl Harbor; we knew where they lived. It will not be so easy to locate the terrorists who attacked America, because they are spread out over many countries, hiding like the cowards they are among the civilian population. But America is resolute; America is determined. Our cause is just, and we will prevail.

What about the spiritual side of all of this? After the attacks I spoke to a good friend, a former union official, who lives and works in New York City. I jokingly accused him of being a Republican in a Democrat’s body as he spoke of retribution against the terrorists. He thought I might be offended by such an idea, that I would be in favor of "turning the other cheek." I told him that God used His people many times to punish wicked nations.

The concept of turning the other cheek was taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It is clear that He was talking about our individual responses. For instance the attacks on Muslims in this country that have been taking place are not a righteous response to the terrorism. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. But sometimes He delegates His authority.

Romans 13:4, speaks of government as "the minister of God." It warns, "But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil." According to this verse, God has assigned the authority to deal with those who deal in death to those that rule over us.

My wife was studying Proverbs, Chapter 11, the day after the attacks. She pointed out these verses: "The perverseness of evildoers shall destroy them." (Verse 3.) "The wicked shall fall by his own wickedness." (Verse 5.) "He that pursues evil pursues it to his own death." (Verse 19.) "The wicked shall not go unpunished." (Verse 21.) I could go on, but you get the idea.

The difference in whether punishing the wicked is righteous or not is in the heart of the one who administers the punishment. If hatred or revenge is the motive, it is wrong. If a snake gets into my house, I kill it, not because I hate it, but because it could kill my family. The corrections officer who administers capital punishment doesn’t do so out of revenge. He is doing his part to make society safe from murder. Likewise, a police officer who shoots a man dead before he can enter a school carrying an automatic weapon is not acting out of hate. By taking one life he is preventing many more deaths. Remember this when our military begins to prevent terrorism by removing terrorists before they can act.

Don’t think that the useless institutions of the U.N. will be of any help in this war. They will talk and posture, but they will not accomplish anything. And don’t think in terms of frightening terrorists with the prospect of a trial and a prison sentence. We are talking about fanatics who believe that if they die as "martyrs" in their "holy war" they will go immediately to paradise and be given ten virgins. The lunatics who crashed those planes carrying innocent passengers had been brainwashed into believing they were serving Allah!

We have waited far too long to begin the task of removing the cancer that is terrorism from this earth. Removing Osama bin Laden will not end the war. The malignancy of his hatred has spread too far. Until every cancerous cell is removed, no nation is safe. No person is safe. No place is safe.

A final thought from the Word of God in II Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, which are called by name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."


THE SYMBOLISM OF TERRORISM. Today as I watched the terrible events that took place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, I was struck by the tremendous resolve of the terrorists who caused them. They hate us so much that they spent months, perhaps years, planning these three attacks so carefully that all but one of the hijacked planes reached its target in the space of one hour. I can only hope and pray that our nation’s leaders will show even greater resolve in finding and punishing not only the perpetrators, but also those who made their cowardly acts possible. President Bush has properly stated that he will make no distinction between those who committed the acts of terrorism and those who harbor, supply and protect them. Newt Gingrich made the most sense of any commentator I heard today. He stated that the United States should confront those governments that are hiding the terrorists, and demand that they be turned over to us. If they fail to do so, they should be punished militarily to force them to do so.

I was also struck by the symbolism of the terrorism. There was nothing random about the choice of targets. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were chosen because they symbolize capitalism. The Pentagon and the White House (which might have been the primary target of the plane that hit the Pentagon) represents our nation’s might. Because the fourth jet crashed in Pennsylvania, we will probably never know for sure its intended target, but it was probably Camp David. The terrorists’ intelligence was so good that it is highly unlikely they thought the President would be there. I believe Camp David was chosen because it is a symbol of peace, a symbol of the efforts of American, Arab and Israeli leaders to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. Also, today is just a few days short of the anniversary of the signing of the Accords, which Palestinians believed betrayed them.

Many believe that the purpose of the attacks was to kill as many Americans as possible, or to punish us financially. I think not. I believe that the symbolism of the attacks indicates that the terrorists singular goal was to instill fear in the hearts of Americans. They wanted to make us afraid that our financial strength, our military might, even the basic goodness and humanity of America was no barrier to their ability to harm us any time they chose. They have failed utterly. America is not afraid. America is mad. America is united. And America will win the war on terrorism.

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Copyright ©2001 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

“Dr. Tom,” as his readers and followers affectionately refer to him, has a passion for teaching, as you can see from his ministry website (www.ChristianFinancialConcepts.com); his patriotic site (www.ConservativeTruth.org); and his business site (www.GoldenArtTreasures.com). Tom's friend Dr. Lance Wallnau wrote of him, "Tom Barrett is a Renaissance man with a passion for subject matter ranging from finance to theology and American history."
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