Jewish World Review July 30, 2003 / 1 Menachem-Av, 5763

Tony Blankley

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A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on? | Senator Joe Lieberman has set in motion an important line of discussion concerning post-Iraq War policy and politics. While he made a partisan — but not entirely unfair — critique of President Bush's management of pre-war preparations and post-war execution of policy, the crux of his speech was a fierce criticism of those Democrats who displayed a "disquieting zeal" questioning the necessity of the war: "(B)y their words, some in my party are sending out a message that they don't know a just war when they see it, and more broadly, they're not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom." After his speech he named Howard Dean, John Kerry and Richard Gephardt as fitting that description.

Jaded political analysts see his statement as merely an attempt to carve out a distinct position in the Democratic presidential primary contest. But it is more than that. Sen. Lieberman is an inept campaigner but a first-rate and serious statesman. And he has essentially asked the age-old, crucial question in human affairs: Whose side are you on? It is the question that many Republicans have been afraid to ask. It is the same question that Ann Coulter has notoriously asked and answered in her current best-selling book, "Treason." Senator Lieberman has carefully avoided the pungency of the "T" word. But what would one call political leaders who were not prepared to use our military to protect our security and our freedom?

For those of us who believe that America and our way of life is in danger from jihadist terrorists and the WMD rogue states that help them (and that is at least two thirds of Americans), it has been breathtaking to watch the glee and abandon with which elements of the media, the Democratic Party and our former allies in Europe have been attempting to turn our military victory in Iraq into a post-war debacle. If we succeed in bringing order out of the chaos of Iraq, we advance measurably the effort to defeat the will and hope of the terrorists and their supporters. If Iraq becomes peaceful and law abiding, can Iran, Syria and others be far behind? The dreadful sickness that has had the Middle East by the throat for generations will begin to abate, and we will be able to realistically dream of a more secure life once again.

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But if we fail, then a hard and grievous future is before us. There is an old phrase that if you shoot at a king, don't miss. Vastly more so is that true about going after the will of terrorists. If our effort at showing strength reveals only weakness, if we are driven from the field in ignominy, we will surely reap the terrorist whirlwind. As Gen. Douglas McArthur once instructed: "There is no substitute for victory."

And so we return to Joe Lieberman's implicit question: Whose side are you on? Of course it is fair game to criticize the president's handling of any aspect of his administration. Constructive suggestions for how to do a better a job are both fair and needed.

Even cheap, vicious, lying accusations against the president's domestic and non-critical foreign policies and politics are (perhaps regretfully) part of our political tradition. But what are we to conclude about the breathless Washington journalists who incorrectly but genuinely think they smell Watergate and Pulitzers as they obsessively try to destroy a president by undercutting public support for his vital Iraq effort? How are we to judge Democratic presidential aspirants who, half-crazed by their desperate search for votes, don't even address the consequences of their proposals? Undercutting a life-and-death presidential policy without even considering the consequences is like tearing down a dam without first draining the water it contains. Only a flood of death can follow: American death; here, at home.

Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman has said that Democrats Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt and John Kerry are sending a message that they are "not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom." Would it be unfair for a fearless Washington press corp to ask those men, whose side are you on?

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Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

07/23/03: When GOPers attack their leader
07/17/03: Spanish fest mirrors U.S. elections
07/09/03: On the horns of a dilemma
06/25/03: The continuing deaths of American and British soldiers in Iraq should not be rhetorically minimized -- but sanctified
06/18/03: No reason to feel defensive about criticism of the war on terrorism
06/11/03: The Clintons — self-proclaimed geniuses — have no defense against the charge of cunning mendacity
06/04/03: George 'Machiavelli' Bush? Nah
05/28/03: When 'progressives' become reactionaries
05/21/03: Yes, this conservative is defending the NYTimes
05/14/03: Playing the politics of deflation
05/07/03: Only the stupid could think it'll be the economy: Comparing the Bushes 04/30/03: How to squelch increasing Iraqi distrust of America
04/25/03: Winning the war, losing the peace
04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2002, Creators Syndicate