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Moral Relativism

Editors note: It was pointed out to us that the speech we originally displayed here was actually not written by General Hawley.  Our apologies to the General and our readers.  Below are the real words of General Hawley written in response to the message attributed to him.

There is a piece zooming around the internet that attributes some pretty forceful statements to me, Dick Hawley - one time fighter pilot, General, thoughtful consultant, neophyte strategist, master of the artful compromise. The words did not flow from my pen, but if the e-mails mean anything, those words are now indelibly linked to my name. So do me a favor - if you receive this, please send it on to the same people to whom you forwarded the one that I did not write. It's not that I don't share many, if not most, of the sentiments attributed to me, but the piece is just not my style.

Here's what I would have said if I'd been asked to comment on those five important issues.

1) Goodness, Evil and Relativity: There are some really good people in this world. They volunteer to help those who need it, and ask nothing in return. There are also some really bad people in this world. They exploit those who need help, or who have less wit or "charisma", and motivate them to join in committing unspeakable acts of cruelty against people they don't even know. Then there are the rest of us. Average people who try each day to do no harm, to provide for their families, to do an occasional act of kindness. The evil that was perpetrated against our land on 9/11 was the product of Mullahs who see our prosperity and power as a threat to their control over the uneducated Muslim masses on whose shoulders they ride through life. And so they preach hate. They are evil.

2) Violence begets violence: It's true. Violence does beget violence. But sometimes there is no alternative but to confront those who would perpetrate evil acts against us. This is one of those times. We are blessed to have courageous men and women willing to put their lives on the line to track down and annihilate those who have been so imbued with evil as to be beyond redemption. But violence is not a strategy. It is a necessary and fully justified reaction to an unimaginable threat. But it is not a strategy. If we are to win this war, we must defeat the Mullahs. And to defeat the Mullahs, we must find ways to separate them from their uneducated flocks. We cannot kill all those who have been taught to hate us, nor should we wish to. Far better to change their minds than to change their state of being.

3) The intelligence community let us down: Well, maybe just a little. Lots of senior and not so senior intelligence people became just as enamored of high tech gadgets as their political masters. The protests over our evisceration of the human intelligence component of the agency were not very loud or forceful. Keeping spies on the ground is a high risk and often dirty business, and it wasn't just liberal politicians who didn't have much stomach for it.

4) Poverty is the breeding ground for terrorists: No, it isn't; but religious extremism is. The Mullahs fear our wealth and power because it shows that a secular society with democratic institutions and a free market economy can do a better job of taking care of its peoples' needs, both spiritual and physical, than the oppressive Islamic regimes that they aspire to lead. The Mullahs are the problem, not poverty, but poverty does make it easier for the Mullahs to spread their evil - as do governments that tolerate and even reinforce their hateful message.

5) Profiling: We are at war here! We are not talking about traffic stops. If we were at war with Iceland, I would expect those charged with our defense to pay very close attention to any Icelander who ventured near our shores. In this war I expect them to pay very close attention to Muslims with ties to the places that spew hatred against us. Random checks when there are no such obvious targets available are a good way to keep the evil ones guessing, but let's not make small children and grandmothers take their shoes off while we watch far more likely candidates walk aboard unchecked.

6) Resolutions:

a. Never forget that what happened on September the 11th of 2001 was an act of war.

b. Never sit silently by while someone tries to justify what happened on that day as an understandable reaction to U.S. policies in the Middle East or elsewhere.

c. Fly our nation's flag proudly - it represents this world's greatest hope to move beyond the pain and suffering that inflict so many across the globe.

Richard E. Hawley
General, USAF, Retired
Former Commander, Air Combat Command

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