September 20, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President,

We write to endorse your admirable commitment to “lead the world to victory” in the war against terrorism. We fully support your call for “a broad and sustained campaign” against the “terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.” We agree with Secretary of State Powell that the United States must find and punish the perpetrators of the horrific attack of September 11, and we must, as he said, “go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world” and “get it by its branch and root.” We agree with the Secretary of State that U.S. policy must aim not only at finding the people responsible for this incident, but must also target those “other groups out there that mean us no good” and “that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.”

In order to carry out this “first war of the 21st century” successfully, and in order, as you have said, to do future “generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism,” we believe the following steps are necessary parts of a comprehensive strategy.

Osama bin Laden

We agree that a key goal, but by no means the only goal, of the current war on terrorism should be to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and to destroy his network of associates. To this end, we support the necessary military action in Afghanistan and the provision of substantial financial and military assistance to the anti-Taliban forces in that country.

Iraq

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….” It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.

Hezbollah

Hezbollah is one of the leading terrorist organizations in the world. It is suspected of having been involved in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Africa, and implicated in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Hezbollah clearly falls in the category cited by Secretary Powell of groups “that mean us no good” and “that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.” Therefore, any war against terrorism must target Hezbollah. We believe the administration should demand that Iran and Syria immediately cease all military, financial, and political support for Hezbollah and its operations. Should Iran and Syria refuse to comply, the administration should consider appropriate measures of retaliation against these known state sponsors of terrorism.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Israel has been and remains America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism, especially in the Middle East. The United States should fully support our fellow democracy in its fight against terrorism. We should insist that the Palestinian Authority put a stop to terrorism emanating from territories under its control and imprison those planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Until the Palestinian Authority moves against terror, the United States should provide it no further assistance.

U.S. Defense Budget

A serious and victorious war on terrorism will require a large increase in defense spending. Fighting this war may well require the United States to engage a well-armed foe, and will also require that we remain capable of defending our interests elsewhere in the world. We urge that there be no hesitation in requesting whatever funds for defense are needed to allow us to win this war.

There is, of course, much more that will have to be done. Diplomatic efforts will be required to enlist other nations’ aid in this war on terrorism. Economic and financial tools at our disposal will have to be used. There are other actions of a military nature that may well be needed. However, in our judgement the steps outlined above constitute the minimum necessary if this war is to be fought effectively and brought to a successful conclusion. Our purpose in writing is to assure you of our support as you do what must be done to lead the nation to victory in this fight.


Sincerely,

William Kristol

Richard V. Allen    Gary Bauer    Jeffrey Bell       William J. Bennett      

Rudy Boshwitz    Jeffrey Bergner       Eliot Cohen    Seth Cropsey   

Midge Decter       Thomas Donnelly    Nicholas Eberstadt    Hillel Fradkin

Aaron Friedberg    Francis Fukuyama    Frank Gaffney       Jeffrey Gedmin   

Reuel Marc Gerecht    Charles Hill       Bruce P. Jackson    Eli S. Jacobs   

Michael Joyce       Donald Kagan    Robert Kagan    Jeane Kirkpatrick

Charles Krauthammer    John Lehman    Clifford May       Martin Peretz   

Richard Perle    Norman Podhoretz       Stephen P. Rosen    Randy Scheunemann   

Gary Schmitt       William Schneider, Jr.    Richard H. Shultz   Henry Sokolski

Stephen J. Solarz    Vin Weber   Leon Wieseltier       Marshall Wittmann