In this 2003 lecture, philosopher Leonard Peikoff relates the ideas on which America was founded to the dominant ideological trends in modern American culture. From its beginning, says Dr. Peikoff, America has stood for the ideals of the Enlightenment: reason, individual rights, capitalism and the pursuit of happiness. Focusing on America’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Peikoff argues that dominant trends in America represent the opposite of these ideals.

Peikoff analyzes and condemns, as appeasement-ridden and ineffectual, the Bush administration’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks. America, he says, should have reacted as it did to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, by declaring war not on Afghanistan or Iraq, but on Iran, the ideological source of Islamic totalitarianism. The public’s approval of Bush’s policies, Peikoff argues, indicates the dramatic ideological shift in America since Pearl Harbor.