It might be helpful right now to remember a few things as events in Washington and Iraq unfold.
1. We are at war. Anyone who thought it would be easy or painless has too
quickly forgotten the lessons of 9/11. We are fighting fascists who would
rather trample an American flag or kill an innocent civilian than do the
hard work of building a free society. They are the enemy. Not the Bush Administration.
Nor the Clinton administration.
2. Democrats, with a few exceptions, don’t seem to realize we are at war,
and that is why they are still talking about mobilizing the United Nations,
or criticizing the president for acting too quickly on Iraq and, of course,
for not acting quickly enough against Afghanistan – you trace the logic,
because I can’t find it.
3. War is not a game, though you might think it is watching the 9/11 Commission
in action. Are we actually supposed to take this seriously? The commission
has become a distraction, one that has taken a national tragedy and turned
it into a political sideshow. Let us hope some good will come out of it,
but I suspect most Americans have concluded, as I have, that the Democrats
on the panel are more interested in blaming Bush than they are in assisting
the anti-terrorism effort. Or perhaps they confuse the two.
4. The families attacking the president and fawning over Richard Clarke need
to be quiet for a while. They are not honoring their loved ones by helping
to politicize a terrible event that no decent American wanted to occur. Their
exercises in witch hunting are about as useful as searching, everlastingly,
for the gunman on the grassy knoll. We feel their pain, but attacking Bush,
who had barely been in office half a year, is a gross exercise in misdirected
rage and frustration.
5. Under promise and over deliver. This is one of the maxims of business
and politics. The Bush administration, unfortunately, has done the opposite
and that is why the events of the past few weeks in Iraq are actually demoralizing
everyone and constitute the most serious issue to confront the president
since 9/11. His team had justification for going into Iraq, but they hardly
sound or act like the experienced realists we thought they would be. “Making
the world a better place,” to quote our President, is a phrase I expect to
hear from Miss America, not battle-tested leaders. We can no more deliver
democracy to Iraq than we can ensure crimeless streets in our own country.
Bush should tone done the rhetoric, however well-intended, and stay focused
on the matter at hand – to find and destroy terrorism. Leaving Iraq a democracy
is a noble aim, but one only Iraqis themselves can achieve. Bush knows this,
but he still grabs at the easy cliché when trying to justify his actions.
Resist the temptation.
6. John Kerry has no clue what he would do other than go back to the United
Nations and beg them to help us. In case he has forgotten, they fled Iraq
long ago, when the terrorists targeted them. They are not going to fight
this battle for us.
7. I don’t understand the mentality of the Shiites who are opposing the United
States in Iraq. But looking for logic is again an impossible exercise here.
Let’s review the situation. They want us to leave Iraq. We want to leave
Iraq. They attack our soldiers, ensuring we will not leave Iraq as quickly
as we otherwise would. It sort of makes you wonder.
8. And what you wonder is whether our leaving Iraq is really the issue. Let
me repeat point number 1. We are at war. That war did not start on 9/11 or
even in 1993. It could be argued it started in 1979, when Iranian militants
took hostage our embassy staff. That was a declaration of war and Muqtada
Al Sadr is just another Khomeini with delusions of wounding “the great Satan.”
This could be a long haul, folks. Until we start thinking World War II instead
of Grenada, we are not going to be mentally prepared for what is yet to come.
I wish all of this were not the case. I wish no one was dying, and I wish
the Middle East was a democratic region. I wish the Israelis and the Arabs
had figured it out 50 years ago. I wish no Americans had died on 9/11 and
I grieve for every soldier we lose. It is painful and it angers me. But I
am not so blinded by fear that I am going to blame my own government for
the sins of Islamic fascism.
So perhaps a little lecture is in order. By all means, debate tactics and
even strategies. Find ways to improve our intelligence and our military.
Work hard to rebuild alliances and to fight terrorism more shrewdly. Appreciate
the limits of our power, and also the price that will be paid when we deploy
it. But most of all, my fellow Americans, grow up. You want reality television?
Watch the footage from 9/11 again. Remember empty skies and Spaniards pulling
their dead from trains. And help our government and our allies do what is
necessary to thwart those who mean us and the civilized world much harm.
Shadroui has been published in more than two
dozen newspapers and magazines, including National Review and Frontpagemag.com.
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