Connect with us

Featured

9/11 Changed My Life Forever And Taught Us lessons About Our Nation We Should Never Forget

Published

on

Screen Shot 2020 09 11 at 10.27.27 AM

I used to wonder when my father told his war stories — discussing the hardships he and friends endured during a time that felt so foreign to me — what it would be like to live in a time when everybody needed one another. To live in a time when a nation stood united against a common enemy state and people worked together to ensure the safety of their own nation.

My father served in the Marine Corp during WWII and the Korean War. I would listen to his stories and see the look in his eyes when he remembered friends long gone who lost their lives on battlefields so far from home. On September 11, however, our enemy wasn’t a state actor, like Japan or Germany, but an ideology followed by people who lived in the shadows among us.

September 11 was our war. It is still our war. It changed everything for me and ultimately changed the direction and course of my life. I believe it did that to everyone.

For me the desire to do something about what happened that fateful day was born out of my childhood growing up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was very familiar with Islam, extremism and that region of the world.

I also remember being a little girl playing in the open markets in Jeddah. I can still remember the spices, the freshly baked pita bread, Falafels frying in pans along the streets, the fish market and the world that seemed so vastly different than the one I came from in America. I remember the comfort of hearing the call to prayer being sung from the mosque in the early morning hours and wondering which Imam’s voice was being carried by the wind as it mixed with the smells of the mysterious Red Sea. Those sounds and smells brought me comfort and familiarity that only a child can understand.

So on that morning when the planes first struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 I was stunned but not completely surprised. I was living in California at the time and it was extremely early in the morning when I received a call from my mother saying that the first plane had struck the World Trade Center. At that point in time we thought it might just be an accident but then when the second plane hit the north tower in my heart I knew that it was terrorist attack and one that would change my life.

By the time the plane hit the Pentagon and then the last of the planes crash in a field in Pennsylvania, most of the world realized that this was a terrorist action that would fundamentally change not only our nation but the way we operate in the world forever. 

I needed to understand. We needed to understand why these mainly Saudi men would follow an ideology and a leader so extreme that they would be willing to sacrifice not only their lives but the lives of innocent people. Their actions would drag us into seemingly endless wars and lead to the deaths of U.S. service members, civilians and eventually a restructuring of our geopolitical system in the Middle East and South Asia.

I decided to be a journalist. I went back to school. I trained. I went to work covering local news, then border and national security and eventually became a Pentagon war correspondent.

I traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world year after year, sometimes twice a year for months documenting stories, interviewing troops and civilians in an attempt to understand what happened on that fateful day. I covered terrorism, extremism and have spent my life trying to understand this new and dangerous enemy.

In one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan I met my future husband, who at that time was fighting the enemy and doing his part to honor those who lost their lives. He didn’t want the enemy coming back to America – he wanted to fight them on their own turf.

He was part of the roughly one-percent of American volunteers who were willing to go to battle to protect everything that makes our nation the envy of the world. Then in April, 2011, in a direct battle with an enemy terrorist in Afghanistan, my husband lost his eyesight. The enemy, however, lost his life.

I ask him often if he would do it again. He says yes. He is my hero and I know his actions have saved many lives.

September 11, was the beginning of our generations war. It wasn’t my father’s war but it was just as significant in the sense that we came to a realization that we have to rely on one-another to protect and keep our nation safe for future generations of Americans.

As I watch what is happening to our nation now it breaks my heart. We are becoming each others enemies. It shouldn’t be this way. Our actions now on the streets of Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin, just to name a few, don’t reflect the greatness of our nation and the goodness that we are capable of.

September 11, did change everything for me and I know it did for so many others. I still live with those changes and that day in my heart.

I live not only with the horror of that day but with the incredible patriotism and love that we showed one-another the weeks, months and years following that horrific attack.

That’s who we are as Americans. That’s where we need to be again.

Continue Reading

Featured

EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

Published

on

Screen Shot 2024 03 13 at 9.50.09 AM
Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

Continue Reading

Trending