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Over 8,000 individuals gathered on Cross Campus to hear former U.S. President William J. Clinton talk about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Clinton: U.S. Will Prevail Against Terrorism

Speaking as part of the "Democratic Vistas, Global Perspectives" symposium held during the final Tercentennial weekend, former President William J. Clinton '73 J.D. offered words of comfort and hope about the future of the nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Since that tragedy, he said, he has been asked over and over again by fearful U.S. citizens, "Is it going to be all right?" Looking out upon the approximately 8,000 members of the Yale community who filled Cross Campus Oct. 6, 2001 to hear him speak during Yale's final Tercentennial Weekend, Clinton said with assurance, "It's going to be all right, I can tell you that."

Noting that terrorism is "as old as organized combat" but "not expected to succeed militarily," Clinton said the goal of the terrorists who launched the attacks on U.S. soil was "first of all, to make us afraid of each other, and secondly to make us afraid of our future -- afraid to plan, afraid to invest, afraid to trust. Therefore, terrorism cannot prevail unless we cooperate. ... We have to give the people who attacked us the permission to win. I don't believe we are about to grant them that permission."

Clinton reminded his audience that America and the world survived the 20th century -- which was "the bloodiest ever in all of human history" with massive loss of life during its two world wars and wars in Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts.

"In every conflict throughout U.S. history, our defense lags behind our offense a little bit, and we got caught not being caught up," he said of the terrorist attacks. "But the human race is still around, and because of our self-preservation and decency we do catch up."

Clinton acknowledged, however, that the United States "is up against a formidable adversary" in international terrorism.

"I believe we are engaged in the first great struggle for the soul of the 21st century," he stated. "We must understand terrorism in the context of the modern world. And we must ask ourselves what we have to do, not only to prevent terrorism and protect ourselves, but to undermine the conditions and attitudes which make terrorist foot soldiers and sympathizers."


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