Jewish World Review Sept. 19, 2002 / 13 Tishrei, 5762
Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
Web blogger Orrin Judd predicted the day before his speech, that President
Bush would tell the United Nations Sept. 12 that he was going to shoot Frank
European journalists are fond of deriding Bush as a "cowboy." Usually, the
analogy is far-fetched. But Bush's UN speech on Saddam Hussein eerily
resembled the script of the greatest Western movie of all time, High Noon.
Especially powerful was the haunting Tex Ritter ballad that was its theme
Do not forsake me, O my darlin'
We were strangers when we wed
Do not forsake me, O my darlin'
For I must shoot Frank Miller dead.
In the movie, Marshal Wil Kane (Gary Cooper) is about to leave on his
honeymoon with his new Quaker bride (Grace Kelly) when he learns that Miller
has been released from prison and is coming to Hadleyville on the noon train
to kill him. Members of Miller's gang already have gathered at the railroad
station to help him out.
Kane tries to round up a posse to arrest Miller, but the townspeople who
have grown prosperous under his protection - people he thought were his
friends - won't help. They urge him to get out of town. Some even blame Kane
for the trouble. If he hadn't arrested Miller in the the first place, Miller
might not be coming back to Hadleyville.
When his wife threatens to leave him if he fights, Kane considers running.
But he decides against it. Miller would just follow him wherever he went.
And it would be wrong not to face up to evil:
I do not know what fate awaits me
I only know I must be brave
And I must face a man who hates me
Or lie a coward, a craven coward
Or lie a coward in my grave.
In the end, Grace Kelly rallies to her husband's side. She even plugs one of
the Miller boys herself. The two ride off together as the people of
Hadleyville hang their heads in shame.
In his speech at Hadleyville on the Hudson, President Bush ticked off Saddam
Hussein's aggressions, his cruelty towards his own people, his decade of
defiance of the UN's resolutions. The UN's credibility is at stake, Bush
said. If the UN won't enforce its own rules, it will become as irrelevant as
its impotent predecessor, the League of Nations. (Interestingly, UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan said essentially the same thing.) If other UN
members were willing to join the posse, Bush said, he will be happy to
discuss with them how best to enforce the law. But he made it clear that he
is going to face the man who hates us, even if they will not:
"We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather," the President
said. "We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and
hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America
will make that stand. Delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to
make that stand as well."
Bush's resolve already has paid dividends. At the end of the Clinton
administration, it seemed likely that Saddam's "punishment" for flouting UN
resolutions would be to have the increasingly leaky economic sanctions on
his regime lifted. Now many are talking about imposing "robust" weapons
inspections, if only to head off more robust U.S. action. Spain's prime
minister said on Sept. 11 that he'd prefer the U.S. act against Saddam
through the United Nations, but that Spain would support the United States
even if it didn't. The new Dutch government had said something similar the
week before. And British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made it plain Marshal
Kane will have at least one deputy.
The problem with "cowboys," European sophisticates say, is that they see the
world in black and white. But history's great statesmen - Abraham Lincoln,
Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan - are
those who have called evil by its right name, and stood up to it.
European sophisticates pride themselves on seeing the world in shades of
gray. But when people look at them, all they see are shades of yellow.
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© 2002, Jack Kelly