Examining the right wing terror attacks a decade ago in norway and the killing of nearly 3 000 americans in new york and washington 20 nearly 20 years ago by al qaeda terrorists using commercial airliners, the deadliest terrorist attack in the u.s history and the most devastating foreign Attack on american soil, since the attack on pearl harbor prior to 9 11, the bush administrations, foreign policy attention was centered on seeking middle east peace in building a ballistic missile defense system and on contemplating how to deal with troublesome states like iran, iraq, libya and north Korea, the bush domestic agenda included seeking tax cuts, education and immigration, reform and faith based volunteerism, but then 19 terrorists guided by osama bin laden, crashed airplanes into the twin towers of the world trade center and into the pentagon. A fourth airplane, some sometimes forgotten, crashed in shanksville pennsylvania due to the heroic actions of citizens on that flight, sparing the u.s and americans of further destruction. Americans were introduced to a threat most were ignorant of, but a day earlier, radical islam, a fundamentalist strain of islam that views western, pluralistic societies, in particular as its sworn enemy. In response to the 9 11 attacks and in support of the overriding goal of protecting the american people from further attacks, the global war on terror was launched. Everything in the white house had this incredible sense of urgency and we all bore the weight of responsibility for the lives lost.
On 9 11. from the president on down, we felt a personal responsibility to make sure that it never happened. Again. We were going to do everything that needed to be done. That was legal, ethical and appropriate and within our power to prevent another attack. The war was focused not only on al qaeda, but the terrorist threat more broadly and targeted, not only non state actors, but on regimes that protected them and those who provided funding. The president announced that he would take action to respond to not only imminent threats but also future threats and would act alone if necessary, but he also emphasized the democratization and building a more peaceful world. We are led by events and common sense to one conclusion. President bush said in his second inaugural address in january 2005. The survival of liberty in our land depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Before 9 11, the united states primacy and security had sort of been taken for granted. Yes, there had been attacks. The bombings of our embassies in kenya and tanzania in 1998 and the attack on the uss cole in yemen in 2000, for example, but those happened far from americas shores and did not include mass american casualties after 9 11. We had to make clear a very to a very traumatized public that, first and foremost the us homeland would be protected, but other priorities, central to building resilience, world economic growth and democratic institution building would not be overlooked.
So yes, after 9 11, there was a buildup of u.s military and intelligence capabilities. Defense spending grew, counterinsurgency, initiatives were launched and new military bases were constructed in central and southwest asia. Yet in tandem policies stressed free markets, trade, liberalization and economic development, economic assistance to foreign countries nearly tripled between 2000 and 2008, and the administration became the largest donor to the global fund to fight aids, tuberculosis and malaria. The 9 11 attacks were planned and organized by al qaeda from out from afghanistan where they were given the protection and assistance of the ruling taliban. When the taliban refused to hand over osama bin laden and the other masterminds of 9 11. The u.s invaded afghanistan forced the taliban from power and began the arduous process of trying to transform afghanistan from a failed state to a functioning democracy, a place that could no longer be a launching pad for terror, terror attacks against the us and our allies. We are, it seems to me we ought to take a moment just to acknowledge the tragic uh airport bombing, that killed 13 american service members and killed over 90 afghans wounding scores of others. This is this is particularly painful to those of us who were in the fight post, 9, 11 um and saw trillions of dollars and american blood spilled uh to protect this country. I fear that, because the biden administrations decision to announce the removal of all of our remaining troops from afghanistan by tomorrow, before negotiations with the taliban, were concluded much of what we have gained and what the afghans gained by our being, there will be sacrificed rather than Accept a ceasefire in negotiations with the elected leaders of the country, the taliban with lightning speed conquered one city after another, kabul was the last to fall long before american citizens and those afghans who assisted our troops and deserve our protection could be safely evacuated.
The taliban has placed the security of kabul in the hands of the haqqani network, which has close ties to foreign jihadist groups, including al qaeda. This is alarming and flies in the face of earlier taliban promises that they will govern differently this time than when they ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.. It also raises the prospect of al qaeda and other foreign jihadists finding a safe haven in afghanistan. Again in my role as homeland security advisor, i traveled throughout the middle east and africa, working with leaders of those countries to find ways to overcome challenges. We faced from terrorists and from radical regimes like iran, which used terrorists, as proxies like his proxies like hezbollah in lebanon and the houthis in yemen, to threaten its neighbors like saudi arabia and israel. These countries, on the front line of the war against terrorists, wanted not just soothing words for me, but reassurances that our words would be supported with actions now and tomorrow. Al qaeda isis, hezbollah, boko, haram, al shabaab, iran and others are cheering americas decision to abandon afghanistan. Our allies are perplexed and angry by our embarrassing lack of planning and consultation which questions the competence of of americas governing americas reputation is taking a beating the willingness of our allies to criticize our actions publicly is very a very worrisome development to me. I fear that it bodes ill for the kinds of close cooperation and constant information sharing that is critical for preventing another mass casualty event taking place in america.
Our colleagues earlier also spoke eloquently about right wing, extreme extremism. Again, when i was in the white house, this was not a central problem. However, we have seen from charlottesville to the january 6th capitol this. This problem here in the united states also commands tremendous resources and white house and policy maker attention. I could not have imagined that 20 years ago, and now we find ourselves fighting on two fronts, both foreign and domestic.