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From the September 23, 2003, edition of NPR's All Things Considered (accessed from the Nexis database):
FRIEDMAN: Well, there were, I believe, three great bubbles in the 1990s. You know, there was the Nasdaq bubble. There was the Enron bubble, the corporate governance bubble. And there was the terrorism bubble. And all three were based on creative accounting. The terrorism bubble was based on moral creative accounting. And the terrorism bubble really began to inflate with the attack on American troops at Khobar Towers, then East African embassies. And it reached its apex on 9/11. And the terrorism bubble basically said that plowing your planes into the World Trade Center is OK. Wrapping yourself in dynamite and blowing up Israelis in pizza parlors is A-OK. Having your charities raise money for people who do those things is just fine and dandy. And calling people who do those things martyrs in your own press and houses of worship is just wonderful.
And not did many, many people in the Middle East believe that was all OK, they believed it was actually going to level the balance of power between them and us. And I believe that bubble, that bubble motivating people to do things that threaten us, was a fundamental threat to our open society. And there was no wall high enough, no metal detector smart enough, no border guard efficient enough to protect us ultimately by people motivated by that bubble, and what we had to do, I believe at some point, was to go into the very heart of that world and burst that bubble. And the message was, 'Ladies and gentlemen, which part of this sentence don't you understand? We are not going to sit back and let people motivated by that bubble threaten an open society we have built over 250 years. We really like our open society. We mean no ill to you, OK? But we are not going to sit back and let that bubble fundamentally distort our open society and imprison us.'
And that's what I believe ultimately this war was about. And guess what? People there got the message, OK, in the neighborhood. This is a rough neighborhood, and sometimes it takes a 2-by-4 across the side of the head to get that message. But they got the message and the message was, 'You will now be held accountable,' and one can see that in Syria. One can see it in Saudi Arabia. I think one can see it in Iran.
From the May 30, 2003, edition of PBS' The Charlie Rose Show:
ROSE: Now that the war is over, and there's some difficulty with the peace, was it worth doing?
FRIEDMAN: I think it was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie. I think that, looking back, I now certainly feel I understand more what the war was about . . . . What we needed to do was go over to that part of the world, I'm afraid, and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically, and take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that bubble. . . .
And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going from house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: which part of this sentence do you understand? You don't think we care about our open society? . . . .
Well, Suck. On. This. That, Charlie, was what this war was about.
We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.