Jewish World Review March 12, 2002 / 28 Adar 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It has been six months since al-Qaeda terrorists operating from bases in more than a dozen nations attacked the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 American civilians on their own soil. A month later - after nearly a decade of inaction against al-Qaeda attacks - America struck back. In less than two months, al-Qaeda's host regime in Afghanistan was destroyed. This victory was accomplished with a minimum of casualties; an international coalition against terror was forged. No small accomplishment for America's commander-in-chief.
But there are some who can't take yes for an answer. In some quarters the leader responsible for these triumphs is himself under siege. The Democrats' Minority Leader thinks the war lacks direction and definition (What is it you don't understand about evil, Mr. Daschle?) Others on the left are even more carping. Salon.com, for example has an ongoing series called Bushed! whose articles regularly accuse the President of not having done anything right since the military victory in Afghanistan and - more generally (and absurdly) of not being up to his job.
These attacks come in an environment of danger that makes them difficult to comprehend even as partisan hits. There are an estimated 100 al-Qaeda cells operating within the borders of the United States. During the last decade, 100,000 terrorists have been trained in al-Qaeda's terror camps from the West Bank to Afghanistan with one mission - to kill American men, women and children, and destroy the Great Satan. Last week US forces engaged undefeated al-Qaeda fighters in the largest battle of the war in Afghanistan since Tora Bora. In Jerusalem a few days earlier, a suicide bomber from one of Yasser Arafat's terrorist units "waded into a crowd of religious families emerging from Sabbath prayers or bar mitzvah celebrations … [and] approached a group of women with baby strollers before detonating the large nail-packed explosive device on his body." (LA Times 3/3/02) Among the Israeli dead there was an 18-month old girl and four other children. The war to destroy Israel and establish a terrorist state on the land stretching from the West Bank to the Mediterranean is now in full swing.
Six months ago, in the wake of 9/11, President Bush went before the American people. He told the nation that we were at war and it would be a long one. In this, as in other matters affecting this conflict, the President has told the truth - no small matter as far as our security is concerned and - for a recent President -- not a small grace. Al-Qaeda first bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 using Palestinian, Egyptian and Iraqi terrorists. Bill Clinton did not even visit the site. For eight years Clinton did not inform the American people what government intelligence knew -- that our country was under attack by an international army of religious fanatics whose backers included half a dozen nations armed with weapons of mass destruction. Nor did Clinton put in place the most basic security measures -- at airports for example - that would have prevented the September attack.
Where are the articles about Clinton's incompetence? Where is the recognition that Clinton was not up to the job as commander-in-chief and that Bush's response to the war against us has been masterly and responsible in contrast?
Even with Bush's response, the future may be worse than we think. The administration is attempting to thwart al-Qaeda plans to poison America's water supplies and destroy our nuclear power plants. A recently released report which has turned out to be a false alarm indicated that al-Qaeda was plotting to detonate a "dirty" nuclear bomb in New York City, which could kill 100,000 people -- precisely the number of victims at Hiroshima. The fact that this was a false alarm is not really reassuring, however. The reason: we know that 80 out of 132 nuclear "suitcase" bombs built by the Russians are missing from their inventories, and may have fallen into al-Qaeda hands.
We are engaged with a medieval enemy fighting a holy war with 21st Century weapons. It is not George Bush who has made this a war of good versus evil, as his critics suggest, but a ruthless enemy whose soldiers plan to go to heaven over our dead bodies. Every man woman and child in America has been targeted for death. Hatred of America, of Christians and of Jews is preached not only across the Muslim world outside the United States but inside our borders as well.
The Washington Post recently ran a story about a Muslim textbook used in a religious high school that teaches 11th graders, "the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews." In the Al-Qalam All-Girls School in Springfield, Va., seventh graders learn that Osama bin Laden might actually be a frame-up victim. Students attending Islamic day schools in this country are taught that if a person is a non-Muslim it is okay "to hurt or steal from that person." So why not kill them? (Kenneth Adelman, FoxNewsChannel, February 27, 2002) Eighty percent of the Mosques in America are funded by Wahhabi Saudis the radical sect whose fundamentalist teachings spawned al-Qaeda. (Steven Emerson, American Jihad).
As we face this enemy -- even post-Afghanistan -- our borders are still porous and our airport security systems a feeble joke. (It was recently disclosed for example that nine pilots of U.S. commercial jets are illegal immigrants themselves; equally recently, CBS reporters passed security at airports across the country using fake IDs; the Secretary of Transportation insists on random computer checks instead of scrutiny by time-tested human profiling in order to avoid the appearance of "discrimination." Better 100,000 dead than one passenger inappropriately profiled!) Domestic surveillance -- our only real defense -- has been hamstrung for decades by laws which prevent the FBI from looking at groups dedicated to destroying the United States unless they can be shown to have actually acted on their deadly agendas, i.e., already committed criminal acts. The ACLU and other groups are fighting a rearguard battle to preserve these restrictions. As a result of this laxity - as Steven Emerson reports in American Jihad -- al-Qaeda leaders actually prefer America to other nations when setting up their terrorist cells.
But in the midst of this unprecedented national crisis, which unites all Americans as potential victims, and only six months after the initial attack, and while we are engaged in our own counter-offensive, and even as the Bush Administration struggles against time to close the Grand Canyon-size holes in our homeland defenses, the political left is in full bore attack. Not against al-Qaeda or its domestic allies or the gaps in our security that put us in danger, but against George Bush, his administration, and most venomously the Attorney General who is attempting to reform the system that has already permitted the slaughter of 3,000 Americans. Mr. Ashcroft why do you want to target Muslims who are here illegally from terrorist countries and subject them to added scrutiny? Have you no decency?
In other words, politically it is anti-American business as usual on the political left. Go up to the website of The Nation, a magazine which supported every Communist enemy of the United States during the Cold War - from Stalin through Mao to Ho and Fidel -- and behold its priorities. Its editors are currently featuring "Enron at Home and Abroad" a Nation series attempting to 'Enronize' the Bush Administration and a cover story about reparations for a race riot in Tulsa in 1921 to emphasize a regrettable episode from America's past, and several articles demonizing Attorney General Ashcroft as reincarnation of Cotton Mather and Joseph McCarthy, and a "Prayer for America" by Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, which is really a prayer that America will reform itself and cease to be the Great Satan . Kucinich's prayer - already much-praised by America haters like Edward Said is in fact an attack on America's commander-in-chief and a hope that this nation will not defend itself in the war:
"The trappings of a state of siege [intones Kucinich] trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President."
Notice that Kucinich does not concede that we actually are in a state of siege, but suggests instead that the Bush Administration has put on the "trappings of a state of siege" (and with the intention to trap Americans in a state of fear). This is exactly what domestic Communists - and The Nation -- said about the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations as they attempted to ward off the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
Speaking in effect for the "Progressive Caucus" of the House Democrats, Kucinich contrasts America's good to America's bad: "Crown thy good, America. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar world." In other words, what is bad in America is the Bush Administration's program (or rather Kucinich's caricature of that program) for defending Americans against al-Qaeda's attacks.
In a recent public utterance, Jimmy Carter -- who has spent much of his ex-Presidency continuing the delusions of his own administration by identifying America rather than its enemies as the source of world problems -- has let everyone know that Bush's reference to an "axis of evil" is itself the evil: "I think it will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement," he told an Emory University conference on the impact of terrorism. A chorus of anti-administration columnists has seconded the charge.
What these Bush critics need is a good old-fashioned reality check. Iran, Iraq and North Korea are regimes whose official hatred of America is not only quite public, but has a religious dimension which makes it a thousand times more dangerous and sinister. North Korea's hatred properly understood is also religious, albeit the religion of Marxism - which is fused with radical Islam in al-Qaeda's demonic brew. All three of these countries are not only developing weapons of mass destruction, but intercontinental missiles as well. This is why Bush identified them as an axis of evil. To put them on notice to stop or else. The Bush Administration is racing against time to prevent devastating attacks on America that al-Qaeda has planned for its citizens. If this takes preventive war against the axis of evil, so be it. If the Israelis had not destroyed Iraq's first nuclear reactor twenty years ago, a nuclear bomb might have already been detonated in cities like New York.
Yet there is a growing drum beat from the left -- including the editorial pages of the New York Times -to undermine Bush's public base of support on the war. Have these Cassandras forgotten the lessons of the 1930s, when "pacifists" on the left and right refused to take the demented author of Mein Kampf at his word? What is so difficult about understanding the fact that this nation is engaged in a life and death struggle with people who not only would have no religious compunction about killing all 300 million Americans, but claim to have a religious basis for doing exactly that? While the enemy is busily identifying America as the Great Satan, an entire American political spectrum is busily assuring their fellow citizens that Iran, Iraq, North Korea and al-Qaeda don't really mean it. These critics adopt a similar attitude towards the allies of al-Qaeda's and Saddam Hussein on the West Bank. Yasser Arafat rejects a peace offer that includes 95% of his demands and does so by bombing women, children and teenagers. Yet these are regarded as "tactical errors" rather than as self-evident proofs that there is evil in the cause itself - destroy Israel and the infidel Jews.
A recent correspondent summarized these views quite aptly: "What grabs anyone who thinks about the events and issues surrounding the war on terrorism, the U.S. and the Israelis, is that those who oppose the war think we have a choice. When the rockets of a people who vow your total destruction are being fired into your neighborhood, they say you should do nothing."
Or not so much. Salon's series Bushed! suggests that its editors are tired of the commander-in-chief, who has just managed the first successful phase of a war whose goal is to prevent America's destruction. That they don't want a ballistic missile defense that might forestall a nuclear disaster. That they don't want to take security measures that would military tribunals whose purpose is to save a few hundred thousand lives at the expense of a few civil liberties for non-citizens.
Salon is not The Nation, however. Salon's editor, David Talbot, has wisely (and courageously) embraced the war. But he has also indulged in some facile Bush-bashing he ought to reconsider. Talbot recently wrote an assessment of what he considers to be the war effort's failures so far, identifying the escape of Bin Laden and his major lieutenants and the descent of Afghanistan into civil anarchy as prime among them. Fair enough. This kind of criticism can be an important contribution to the successful prosecution of America's cause.
But consider the terms in which Talbot writes about the President who has led the war effort and to his Secretary of Defense. "Speaking of Rumsfeld, just what is the secret of this man's appeal? … Are they [the press] relieved that an administration presided over by a goofy and inexperienced leader - someone who still seems weirdly young at age 55 - has a grown-up at home?"
David Talbot's title at Salon is editor-in-chief. Without knowing what goes on inside Salon, everyone outside understands that Talbot is responsible for what happens on his watch. The same goes for Bush. If Donald Rumsfeld were actually running George Bush rather than the other way around, others would be pulling the President's strings as well. Why did Talbot leave out Cheney, the previous press candidate for White House puppet-master-in-chief? And what about Colin Powell, no slouch hitherto at bureaucratic infighting himself? If Talbot's assessment were remotely accurate, the White House would resemble the anarchy in Afghanistan, which rightly causes Talbot concern: There would not be a leader running this war; there would be chaos instead. Not only would the entire world immediately know this but all of us who depend a commander-in-chief to make decisions and to make them correctly would be in the deepest trouble we could possibly imagine.
Bush-bashing is particularly unseemly for the editor of a magazine who has written astutely on the war and who himself waged a fierce and widely watched campaign during the Clinton impeachment against exactly what he is doing now: personalizing issues of state. The American people should be grateful for having this particular president in the Oval Office, and not the man whom he defeated last year, and Talbot surely realizes this by now. In the year and a half since Al Gore's electoral defeat and in the five months since America was brutally attacked he hasn't figured out what he should do to help lead his country in its time of need, let alone who he should be if he were able to make the decision. God bless the bleeding heart Democrat in Palm Beach who devised the butterfly ballot to help old folks vote!
The American people need George Bush, but George Bush also needs the support of the American people. A nation united behind its leader is the only nation that can win a war whose terrain of battle is inside its borders. Eighty-plus percent of the American people understand this and are grateful for a leader who has led us magnificently into battle in the conflict to date. The facile Bush critics- particularly those who during the impeachment process kept pointing to Clinton's ratings in the polls as a rationale for keeping him in office -- should recognize that on this matter the American people once again are right. (This is not to say that Clinton should not have been impeached. He should not have been impeached on perjury over sex. He should have been impeached for betraying the nation's security.)
George Bush - as a result
of his own leadership decisions -- is commanding American forces in this war
as head of the most ethnically diverse administration in the history of nations.
He has shown us a commander who is decisive against our enemies in battle,
and who is generous in his power, extending an unprecedented tolerance to
those inside our borders who are from the countries that are our enemies.
President Bush has thus put together both elements of America's strength -
its military might and its democratic example. Criticism that appreciates
the debt already owed to this President is one thing. But criticism that belittles
and demonizes him and denies him his due, is no service to our nation and
JWR contributor David Horowitz is editor of Front Page Magazine and the author of several books, including, The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits, Hating Whitey, Art of Political War, Radical Son : A Generational Odyssey . Comment on this article by clicking here.
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