Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Next Steps In The War On Terror

This is an interesting piece in the WSJ by Mark Helprin. I have read two of his books - fiction - "Winter's Tale" and "A Soldier of the Great War". In both cases I found Helprin to be entertaining, artistic and deeply insightful into the human condition. I'd recommend both of to anyone that appreciates good, if some what under appreciated, literature.

Helprin's work in the non-fiction world has in my view been less reliable. He clearly has an excellent command of history, and is well versed in strategy and tactics. However, it seems that from time to time he allows a certain crumudgionly veneer to overwhelm his dispassionate analysis, and we're all worse off for it. Who can forget his 11th hour exit from the Dole campaign?

I mention this, because I've been noodling over the above linked article since it came out yesterday, and in this case I think he's basically right. In it, Helprin correctly argues that the U.S. has not taken sufficient action in preparing for the challenges of the 21st Century. More alarmingly, he points to the similarity of the country's inadequate response to external threats at the start of the last century and reminds us of the terrible price in life and treasure that we paid as a result.

While Helprin is correct that we haven't done enough - ports are too open, immigration is not controlled, and we have virtually no protection against a biological attack - one wonders if perhaps he isn't expecting too much. This of course doesn't diminish his argument, but it does point out that we have established strong momentum in addressing these new threats. To deny this is to give the other side credibility and I fear, undermine our ability to continue to build on our success. Make no mistake, the President and those of us who see the threat clearly will need to continue to fight against illogical resistance both at home and abroad.

Just last week during the Rice confirmation hearings we were treated to the ghastly spectacle of a sitting U.S. Senator repeatedly call the nominee an unrepentant liar. This inspite of the fact that while we didn't go to war with perfect information - name a time when we have - we did go to war based on information that was broadly agreed upon at the time. Further, WMD's aside, the reasons to invade Iraq were several and most remain valid today. While I suppose one could view all this information and still come to the conclusion that an Iraqi invasion was wrong, to deny the data and resort to name calling demeans both the nominee and the challenge faced by this country.

Then, of course, we have our "allies" that have actively undermined our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere every step of the way. Liberals in the U.S. believe that foreign resistance is the result of arrogance and bad diplomacy, but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, our "allies" are now operating under the false comfort that they no longer are threatened and hence do not require U.S. protection. As a result, they view us as competition to be defeated not as allies to be helped. Read this foolish piece by one of these arrogant fools and tell me I'm wrong. Europe's time will come, and unfortunately we'll have no choice but to bail them out again.

The answer then, is that Helprin while overly negative has got it right. As we did in the 80's when a few of us knew Reagan had the answer, we must once again head the call and continue to push for more. Helprin provides a good road map.

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