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Hours after the Homeland Security alert level was raised on Sunday, a poster at Howard Dean’s “Blog for America” made this comment, which is representative of opinion among the Dean Dongs: “Dean’s remarks about national security and the Saddam capture not making the U.S. any safer has [sic] been validated by today’s Orange Alert.”

There’s no arguing with such reasoning – even by pointing out that although banks continued to be robbed after Dillinger was killed, banks were indisputably safer than when he was alive and among the robbers.

The left does not want to understand the war on terror because to understand it is to leave the left and join the center-right on issues of deterrence and preemption, and especially the center-right’s suspicion of the impotence of international organizations on matters of national security.

Here is a harsh political truth that most Republicans have avoided saying because they thought there was no sense in rubbing it in: If America is struck again today, this week, this month or anytime in 2004, it will be because the cancer of radical Islam grew too large during the presidency of Bill Clinton to be excised in the space of a few years.

President Bush has been reluctant to make this point because he is a gentleman, but there is a cost for that courtesy, which is the encouragement on the left of awful thinking about the nature of the enemy. Even as Churchill refrained, after taking office, from attacking the Men of Munich for their terrible misjudgments, so Bush has kept his quiet about Clinton, Berger and Albright.

But Churchill’s people did not have to be reminded of the extent of the threat because the Nazis made no effort to hide themselves, and Churchill’s people did not have to endure continual second-guessing from Chamberlin, Halifax, Hoare, Wilson and Henderson – the disgraced core group of vain and incompetent officials who thought they could “manage” Hitler. These men and their allies had the decency to leave the public stage and keep their quiet when war consumed the country – a war that could have been prevented, but wasn’t.

Their example has been lost on Bill and Hillary, Al Gore, Madeline Albright and scores of petty officials from the locust years of the ’90s. The effect of their collective ambition is to enable the Howard Deans to declare such amazingly dense things as “the capture of Saddam did not make America safer,” and to traffic in lunatic conspiracy theories, as Dean did when he speculated it was an “interesting theory” that the Saudis had warned Bush of the 9-11 attacks.

Instead of putting on sackcloth and sitting in the ashes of their foreign-policy collapse – and it is not just vis-a-vis terrorism and radical Islam, we need to note, but in North Korea as well, where in December of 2000 Madeline Albright clicked glasses with the tyrant who had boldly torn up every agreement he had reached with the Clinton people. The Democratic presidential candidates have all refused to repudiate the record of the Clinton years, and they campaign on a return to its glories.

That is madness, but of a contagious sort. A Dean supporter called my program last week to argue that Clinton had handed Bush an “action plan” on Osama that had not been implemented, proving 9-11 and the terrorist threat was Bush’s fault. This is one of many stunning delusions the advocates of the Democrats have embraced – the sort of self-deception that will end up warning the electorate of the fundamental disqualification of Bush’s opponent, whether it is Dean or another of the Democrats or even Hillary, if she cannot resist the pressure upon her to run. They still don’t get it.

What is “it”? Simply this: There are tens of millions of people who want tens of millions of Americans dead. Their motivations may vary, and their ability to carry out their intentions are sometimes quite limited, though unfortunately quite capable in some segments of their numbers. There is no choice but to kill the competent among them first, and there are no international organizations that will do the job for us – and it is folly to trust such organizations to act in our place.

The war will be a long one, with many battles and casualties, but it cannot be lost except through loss of will. Time is of the essence. The obvious targets are not the only targets, and all the rallies in the world won’t make the threat go away.

This is hard stuff – not the sort of thing that people want to think about on Christmas Eve, certainly.

But it is the sort of thing they ought to pray about in their visits to church tonight. We all ought to pray for peace tonight. But we also ought to pray for continued resolve as a nation and continued vision in our leaders.

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