One year later: Does Bush understand the war?
[September 8, 2002]
By Nicholas Provenzo
AP reports President Bush's
overall approval rating has slid steadily downward over the summer,
largely because of a withering of support in the way he is conducting
foreign policy. According to a CBS News-New York Times poll released
Saturday, a near-majority of Americans think President Bush lacks a clear
plan to carry out the war on terrorism. It found 54 percent support his
foreign policy. Only two months ago 68 percent approved his foreign policy
and last fall the level stood at almost three-fourths approval.
The reason for dropping polls
and lack of clarity is the very way the Bush administration perceives the
war. President Bush made a key revelation in a
July speech intending to affirm the US war effort. Speaking before
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, President Bush said:
"This President understands
what I know, that we've entered a new type of war. We're hunting down
people that will hide in a cave, but send youngsters to their
death—that's what they'll do. These are international criminals, and
we're going to treat them like international criminals. We going to
get 'em on the run, and we're going to keep them on the run until we
bring them to justice." (Italics added)
The problem is, the terrorists
are no mere international criminals. The terrorists enjoy the tacit
support of several nation-states (to included the support of our so-called
ally of Saudi Arabia), and they enjoy the support of the Arab street. The
terrorists are the manifestation of the way the most backward and despotic
people of the world fight—no enemy could ever hope to beat the US
militarily, but it can take action to humiliate us. For such an enemy to
succeed, the US must be weak—and weak we have been.
Why has it taken almost a year
for even the debate on Iraq to begin? Why is a supposed ally like Saudi
Arabia still funneling money to terrorists? Why is Iran still allowed to
support terrorism? Afghanistan fell in the space of a month—why has no
substantive action been taken against other threats since then? If ever
there was a catalyst for the US to press its rights in the Middle East,
the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was such a catalyst. So
why then the drift, and why the failure to effectively convince in those
rare moments when a policy is decided upon?
I think it is because the US
underestimates the threats against it and has simply become too timid to
defend its freedom. Consider the nature of the current objections to the
war in Iraq. Some say we require the agreement of our allies and the
permission of the United Nations. Some say that it is unacceptable that
innocent civilians may be killed in any war we fight. And some say that
the US has no right to topple the government of another nation. There are
literal host of objections proffered against the US attacking Iraq.
What we don't hear much about is
the fundamental truth of US policy: the goal of US foreign policy is to
protect the individual rights of American citizens. The US has every right
remove any threat to its security, preemptively, or not. In the case of
Iraq, Saddam has no right to rule; he is a despot who long ago forfeited
the right to his crown. The mere hint that he is attempting to build
weapons of mass destruction is sufficient alone for the US to act against
him. And any death that is wrought on the innocent people of Iraq is
wrought by his conduct, not ours.
So where are the passionate
people making these arguments? Where are the people who are willing to
stand up on soap boxes in the town square and communicate these truths
until they are too exhausted to speak? There have been thousands of
rallies mourning the dead on September 11th, but there has not been one
compelling war rally. It's almost as if we are embarrassed to defend
No country unwilling to take
action to defend its most basic rights can long survive. If 9/11 was a
wake up call, we need to look at the last year and realize that we still
don't get it. The US does need leadership—now more than ever. President
Bush has been granted the support of a nation shocked by the attacks on
our soil. If he is to maintain it, he must recognize and carry out his
mission—both the moral and physical defense of our freedoms from the
threats against them.
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