Job one for the president |

Job one for the president

A while back I wrote a commentary titled “Why Hillary Scares Me.” Afterward, I received a bit of flak in the letters-to-the-editor section of this paper. That was good. Some respondents made valid points, others didn’t. But what was important was that people engaged in the public debate.

While I stand by my arguments, in retrospect I can see that I failed to make myself clear. What disturbed me most about Hillary was that I felt of all the candidates for the democratic presidential nomination in ’04 or ’08, she was the least well equipped to fight the war on terror. With that said, I now feel that she is a very close second behind former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

There is no question that domestic agendas are critical to any administration: the economy, education, big business vis-a-vis the common worker, Wall Street, the environment, social programs et al.

But to me it couldn’t be more obvious that the overriding concern for presidential elections into the foreseeable future should be the war on terror and electing a person who will prosecute it.

Any future administration’s domestic programs combined won’t be a molehill compared to the mountain called the war on terror if America incurs another event like 9/11 or, God forbid, one that’s even worse.

Every war has its turning point. Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War. Had Lee succeeded near that small Pennsylvania hamlet, it’s likely Coloradoans would be living the “Western States of America” today.

In World War II, the battles of Stalingrade in the east and D-Day in the west were the turning points. The die were cast after those events, and the Nazi high command knew that victory was no longer possible.

In the Pacific, the Battle of Midway is considered the turning point of the war. After our Navy sunk three Japanese carriers, it was only a matter of time before we island hopped to Japan despite Japanese kamikaze fanaticism.

In Vietnam the Tet Offensive of 1968 spelled doom for American efforts. Regardless of whether the war was just or not, the facts are that although the enemy casualty counts far exceeded ours, it was the magnitude of the offensive that turned the attitude of the American people against the war, thus peeling the death knell of the engagement.

The Cold War turned on the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t back down about the “Star Wars” defense system and it began a series of events in the Soviet Union that eventually brought about the end of that empire.

We are now engaged in another conflict, the war on terror. And while our armies aren’t at risk to the extent that they have been in the past, we as a people and the very fabric of our society are at risk to an extent not experienced since the Russians had 10,000 warheads pointed at us.

I don’t agree with everything this administration does, nor do I always agree with the president’s closest advisers. Wolfowitz is a bit strident for my taste, as is Cheney. I think Tom Ridge pushes the envelope regarding the Constitution, but then that’s why we have a Congress.

But what is important to me is that this administration has a laser-like focus to win this war. Does the administration make all the right calls – probably not. But then I reflect upon the words of the president of the company I worked for before retiring. He once said to me, “Butch, if you consistently make two good calls for every bad one, you’ll have few problems in your career.” He was right.

Regarding the war on terror, I believe the current administration is making far more good calls than bad ones, and I for one am pleased that this administration’s focus is to take the offensive in this war.

It’s obvious that Howard Dean won’t prosecute the war if elected, and I fear that Hillary will follow her husband’s strategy and wage a desultory campaign using our military only as it promotes her personal agenda. (There’s an interesting book on the shelves of Verbatim and The Book Worm called “Dereliction of Duty” that some may find interesting regarding this matter.)

It’s no coincidence that terrorists stream into Iraq to attack our soldiers and Iraq’s infrastructure. They know that if the Iraqis can create progressive government, perhaps a republic, terrorism will be fatally weakened. It would place two republics (the other is Turkey) in the region and will mark the beginning of the end for the terrorists.

The war on terror will not end the day Iraq is stabilized, but like World War II after Stalingrade and D-Day, the outcome will no longer be in doubt.

For every argument that the invasion of Iraq was illegal or immoral, I can support a counter argument based upon the Treaty of Westphalia to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas that it was.

But the fact is that we are in Iraq, the American queen is in the middle of the Arab chessboard, and the only way we can lose this war is if the will of the American people falters or we choose a leader unwilling to set his or her priorities and lead this nation to victory.

George Bush’s administration is not perfect, but they are pursuing the correct strategy to win this war. What they need now is the support of the American people to see it through to the end.

Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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