Exclusive Author Essay
Authors should write, then shut up. Praise, if deserved, is best left to readers and critics. I will say only that, after the events of September 11, 2001, I would not change one word in Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph? This has nothing to do with being visionary. It is only that, while others busied themselves with library research and theories, my comrades and I served in dozens of countries -- or their ruins -- where comforting notions about the goodness of humanity or the triumph of democracy lay bleeding. The essays in this book, written between 1993 and 1998, simply reported realities obvious to anyone who left the campus or the halls of government long enough to look firsthand at the domains of gunmen, greed, historical grudges, religious extremism, and ethnic hatreds. I told what I saw, which was sufficient to outrage those convinced that a clearer view of the world might be had from the liberal-arts faculty than from the front.
But on to more important matters: Despite the thousands of personal tragedies and the blow to our national pride (and economy) that came to us on September 11, 2001, I believe that history's ironic law of unintended consequences is at work. While Osama bin Laden and his disciples hoped to bring America to her knees, the unexpected result has been to make her citizens stand up taller than we have in decades. Rather than inciting panic, the attacks brought Americans together and healed old wounds, making us all aware, once again, of how precious a gift it is to be an American.
We also regained a critical sobriety regarding global realities that will serve us well in the years ahead. The world is an often brutal place. In far too many regions, bullies and bigots hold sway. Instead of responding with cowardice, we, the People, responded to the September 11th attacks with courage and resolve. We have a clarified sense of purpose. I do not anticipate the demise of evil -- inherent in humankind, as every major religion warns -- but I am confident that we are now better prepared to deal with evil when it confronts us. The "new warrior class" will, ultimately, be no match for freedom, tolerance, democracy, American capitalism, American creativity -- and our superb armed forces. Our struggle will be long. It will extend far beyond Afghanistan in time and space. But we will prevail. (Ralph Peters)