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Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism Paperback – February 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

Bestselling author William J. Bennett says he was inspired by displays of patriotism after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but he was also struck by how "some were quick to find us to blame." He worries that this "countermovement of America-bashing" will make the United States lose its resolve: "What I fear is the erosion of moral clarity, and the spread of indifference and confusion, as a thousand voices discourse with energy and zeal on the questionable nature, if not the outright illegitimacy, of our methods or our cause." Bennett cites dozens of examples of professors who decry U.S. foreign policy and pundits who object to so much flag flying. While recognizing that these are minority views, he concludes that Osama bin Laden caught Americans with their defenses down--not just physical and military defenses, but also moral and intellectual ones. "Many of us have forgotten what we once knew about our freedoms and our decencies, and we have forgotten why, time and time again, we have had to rally ourselves to the point of ultimate sacrifice to defend them," writes Bennett, who also appraises Islam and defends Israel on these pages. Why We Fight is short and quickly read--and worthwhile for anybody who wants to be reminded of first principles during the war on terrorism. --John Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

National morals arbiter Bennett takes America's reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and uses it as a platform to discuss a half dozen of the major social and political issues including the role of pacifism, patriotism, "Islamophobia" and support for Israel. His goal is to bolster support for the Bush administration's War on Terror, and in particular, convince readers that the U.S. is, quite literally, a "country worth fighting for." Bennett's point of view is anchored in the "righteous anger" he feels Americans are justified in feeling against al-Qaeda. To rally the cause, he invokes all the righteous institutions of America the church, the state, the family except our well-regarded ability to tolerate different points of view. Unfortunately, his own anger is directed internally, at the members of the so-called cultural elite mostly journalists and educators who would call into question America's clear mandate to retaliate. This elite, he says, is trained on relativistic, postmodernist theory rather than on what he calls common sense. In so doing, he extrapolates unreasonably from the behavior of a small group of individuals, such as a few university studentss quoted in the press, and applies its thinking to larger class of college students. Further, Bennett excels at simplifying issues to the point where black and white appear out of gray. When he concludes that "why we fight" is to prevent al-Qaeda from acquiring chemical and biological weapons and using them for mass destruction, it is easy to agree with him. But when he condemns self-criticism as a national pathology, his words lose their value. For what is this book, if not a product of self-criticism? Bennett rarely ventures beyond his personal convictions. Stirring it may be, but edifying regarding the complexities of America's present situation it is not.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; Revised Edition edition (February 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895261340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261342
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,221,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William J. Bennett served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H. W. Bush and as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Williams College, a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard. He is the author of such bestselling books as The Educated Child, The Death of Outrage, The Book of Virtues, and the two-volume series America: The Last Best Hope. Dr. Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show Bill Bennett's Morning in America. He is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute and a regular contributor to CNN. He, his wife, Elayne, and their two sons, John and Joseph, live in Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Terrence J. Sexton on June 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Why is it that so many intellectuals and media-elites are uncomfortable with patriotism? Why do they fail to recognize that, despite its flaws, America remains a beacon of freedom to the oppressed and downtrodden around the world? And why do the elites cheer on America's enemies as those enemies seek to extinguish the rights that enable us to speak our minds, criticize the government, and determine our own destinies?
Bill Bennett tackles these nagging questions, and more, in his excellent short book "Why We Fight."
Bennett also explains the moral, philosophical, and theological justifications for using force to avert evil. He respectfully and thoughtfully examines the underpinnings of various strains of pacifism, and describes how many pacifists, including some Quakers, have come to recognize that there are times when force is not only justified, but required.
In the end, the explanation of why we fight is easily understood. We fight to preserve freedom's foothold against the forces of tyranny and despotism. America's moral failings, including slavery, are the exception rather than the rule. Those who do not understand that will never understand this book, and deserve our pity rather than our contempt.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Gorden on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine book that answers all of the silly arguments put forth by those opposed to defending freedom and America. Read the negative reviews, the arguments they put forth are answered by the book in marvelous and just fashion. Bennett is cordial, as always, he is not mean or cruel to those with whom he disagrees. He doesn't label them like the people who dish out the poor reviews on Amazon. A fine work. Read it yourself it'll take a few day tops.!
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By The Sanity Inspector on August 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this slim volume of reflections on the 9-11 attacks and the domestic reactions to it, Bennett calls for purposeful anger and determined retaliation against the terrorists. It says something about our times that this is a controversial position. Yet, after a couple of generations of having school kids indoctrinated in the evils of being judgmental, it seems that sizeable amounts of our morally enervated Ritalin zombies are wholly unequipped to respond to our latest challenge.
Bennett spends some ink deploring the Left in this country, who immediately blamed America for the attacks. Hate like that cannot be reformed, only resisted. But his greater concern is the moral illiteracy that these people have inculcated in American schoolchildren. The kids are being taught to think about the attack as if it were just a natural disaster, nobody's fault, except for the ones who are being taught to believe that Uncle Sam wore a short skirt and asked for it.
The weakest section is the one on Islam. Better surveys of that religion, its warlike tendencies, and its usage-hijacking, if you prefer-by terrorists are available by authors like Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, Stephen Emerson, and Ram Swarup. Bennett is at his best excoriating miseducation of American children, and the resulting moral confusion they suffer. A generation that has been taught "Don't hit", may turn out peaceful, but one that has been taught "Don't hit back" has been cruelly cheated.
People who can watch 3,000 fellow Americans die and respond only with "Yes, but..." deserve nothing but contempt. This book gives it to them hot and strong. Get it to bolster your resolve. And watch what they're teaching your children.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David A. Spearman VINE VOICE on November 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I also wonder why our so called intellectuals have problems with patriotism. I Emailed Mr. Fish in regards to his stand and received back a razored reply and a disregard to Mr. Bennetts book and statements. Our country cannot survive without the complete patriotism that was in the past. The more we allow these denizens of America to cry and forgo all we have stood for in our past history the closer we come to the fall of our great country. The only thing I sincerly feel is after 9/11 we saw a lot of our young for the first time feeling the tear jerking, heart swelling pride that comes with being a American, this our so called intellectuals cannot pull away from our young. A great book and will continue to read more of Mr. Bennetts writings.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael J Woznicki HALL OF FAME on June 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Over the past several months America's involvement in Iraq has created a stir throughout the entire nation. One thing that has presented itself over the past several months is the question of why we are involved in Iraq.

William Bennett has tackled this question with this book. Bennett has certainly laid out a foundation of reason for the need to take on those that pose a threat to national security and those that use terrorist tactics to destroy.

Bennett pulls no punches as he skillfully draws the picture that patriotism is stronger now than ever. He brings out the strongest arguments to show that sitting back and waiting can only lead to further disaster.

Bennett's arguments are rationally discussed and the positively backed up with evidence. Bennett takes on both side of the argument, showing we the administration has failed and where is has been strong.

Overall, whether you like Bill Bennett or not, keeping an open mind while reading this book will certainly show you a few new things and open you up to new ideas. So whether you are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, this book does shed new light on what makes this country what it is today - great!
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