Hey, a little help!
December 10, 2003
When we were kids and someone hit a foul ball over the fence, one of us had to either walk to the playground gate in left-center field, or climb over the fence to get the ball.
That is unless there were kids playing on the other side of the fence. In which case we would shout, “Hey, a little help!”
This was kid speak for throw our ball back and when you hit yours over here we’ll respond in kind.
Pretty simple, right? Even kids could figure that one out, so why can’t our public officials learn from that scenario?
The biggest problem we face in Iraq isn’t terrorism. Terrorism is weapon, not an “enemy.”
The biggest problem we’re facing now is dissension.
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Let’s look at the real issues. In order to transform the region, the citizens of the Middle East must regain their sense of dignity about who they are and what they can be. But dignity is hard to come by in a region ruled by mullahs and despots. That’s why removing Saddam Hussein (Iraq Part I) was necessary.
Now we’re engaged in Iraq Part II and the Saddam Fedayeen in concert with thinly allied Islamic fundamentalists understand the enormous stakes involved. That’s why they’ve eliminated the U.N. (big surprise there), the Red Cross, are striking at countries that have supported us, and are murdering Iraqi police and public officials in a guerrilla campaign.
Americans must not lose sight of the fact that militant Islamic fundamentalists declared war on the United States.
The official date of the declaration is debatable. Perhaps it was the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 or our embassies in Africa, but nevertheless war was declared.
Unfortunately, most Americans were too busy enjoying the boom of the ’90s to notice. That is, until Sept. 11, 2001.
Our administration and many Democrats, most notably Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman, fully understand the consequences of not winning the war of ideas in Iraq. Iraq is the noblest operation we have ever attempted outside of our borders and the most important democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II.
They understand that only non-despotic governments can root out the fundamentalists, and only the West can provide the necessary support.
However, with the exception of Howard Dean, the Democrats appear to be playing politics about galvanizing support for this issue.
Understandable? Yes, if you’re a politician. But it’s not good for the country.
I respect Gov. Dean for his anti-war stance because he believes in what he says. But the distressing facts are that he is blind to and naive about the gravity of militant Islam’s threat to our way of life.
The criticism of the Bush administration’s handling of the aftermath of the war may be justified. But their commitment should be commended. The Bush team is dedicated to winning the war of ideas, which is the first step to victory in this war. Now they must formulate an effective strategy and it would benefit all Americans if they received a little more support from the left.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s visit to Afghanistan was admirable. But her comment while she was there – “The outcome of this war is not assured” – was deplorable. Strong morale and the will to win are battlefield multipliers because 10 soldiers who believe fervently in their cause are more valuable than a 100 who don’t. Can anyone imagine John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan saying, “The outcome is not assured”?
Such statements are pure politics, and insidious politics at that. The left has much to say about this war and they must be heard. But dissension has its place, and it’s not among the troops on the front lines.
More importantly, if one is to dissent, please offer an alternative! The left has vocalized ad nauseum about what the Bush team is doing wrong, yet they utter very little about how they would protect the nation from future terrorist threats.
Predictable statements such as, “There should have been a larger coalition” insult our intelligence. Duh, of course, it would have been better to have a more encompassing coalition. But how do we know that the likes of France and Russia would ever have joined in? Both the French and the Russians have enormous financial interests in Iraq and serious Muslim issues within their own borders – hardly likely allies.
After 9/11 when America was filled with patriotic fervor, the president told us that this would be an asymmetrical war. He said that it would be long, complex and difficult. Most of us (including the left) accepted that and Congress voted to remove Saddam. So what’s changed? Did anyone really think we could win a war and institute democratic reforms in 10 months?
Bill, Hillary, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Madeline Albright, Al Gore, John Kerry, and even Ted Kennedy all stated for the record during the run-up to war that they were confident that Saddam had WMDs and a nuclear program. But now they parse words and play politics when our young men and women are in harm’s way.
Americans must realize that unless we win the war of ideas in the Middle East we will see even deadlier attacks on our country and a real erosion of our civil liberties.
So I say to the ideologues that do nothing but berate the president: “Hey, a little help!”
Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org