Jewish World Review April 8, 2004 / 17 Nissan, 5764

Tony Blankley

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Vigilance is not enough | We have all asked the question: Has America changed as a result of the attacks of September 11? Most of the answers have focused on how we feel as Americans. Do we think about the danger? Do we relate to our families more intensely? Have we thought of moving or switching jobs?

While most Americans have answered yes to at least one of these sorts of personal questions, such sentiments are probably fleeting. In fact, man is the most adaptable of all G-d's creatures. No matter how radically our environment changes, most of us quickly establish not only a physical method of dealing with the change, but a new mental sense of normality.

My parents were Londoners during WWII. While the shock of German bombs was initially frightening and disorienting, within days they were casually diving for cover, stepping neatly over the rubble without snagging their clothes, and finding their way to their favorite cafes and clubs. (Of course, the food selection was usually limited, but that, too, became normal.) We can be pretty confident that whatever terror attacks the future has in store for us, we will soon have trouble remembering what it was like not living with such expectations.

But if we, individually, will soon forget what the pre-terrorist mentality felt like (certainly our young children will take the terror threat for granted, never having known otherwise), the same is not likely to be true for us as a nation.

Our relation to the world has changed, probably forever. Our government leaders — whether Republican, Democratic or members of some yet unformed party — will inevitably feel the need to limit this newly normal danger. As long as we have the power and wealth to do so, our foreign policy will become an endless prowling of the world. To manage the danger, we will try to manage the world. It won't quite be imperial, because we have no desire to possess other lands and people. But it will be intrusive and worldwide.

Donate to JWR

The defining feature of this new mentality is the awareness (gained for most of us one year ago, today) that for the first time in human history, the advance of technology makes possible the killing of millions of Americans by just a handful of other people on the other side of the world. Until now, only great nations could pose such great threats. It took 80 million Germans to empower Hitler to kill 50 million Europeans. Until now we could monitor such great nations over many years to detect possible danger. Even during the Cold War, we could keep a wary eye on the Soviets and calculate with some confidence the methods needed to deter them.

But all that is gone. Now, vigilance is not enough. Now, only constant action may reduce the risk. Consider what we have done in just this first tentative year of this new era. We have invaded and conquered Afghanistan because they gave shelter to al Qaeda. We have instructed the Saudis and Pakistanis to stop funding their religious schools — the madrassas. How intrusive this is, telling a sovereign country how they may educate their children and teach their religion. And those countries are more or less our friends.

We have pressured almost every country in the world to change their banking procedures and report to us the movements of money domestically in each country. We have more or less insisted on letting our special forces hunt and kill suspected terrorists in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sudan, Georgia and who knows where else. We have, with Russia, invaded Yugoslavia and seized their nuclear energy plant stockpiles. We virtually compelled Pakistan to change their military defense strategies vis a vis India.

And we have not yet found our stride. The more we fear, the more we will look. And the more we look, the more danger we will find. And the more danger we find, the more intrusions we will carry out. Who can gainsay the logic and necessity of such efforts?

And thus, the imperial period of our history starts. Great empires usually are not formed intentionally. From Russia to Rome, dangers at their borders compelled them to take the next bit of land. And so on they continued until they collapsed.

While we will not plant our flag on foreign lands, nor claim them for ourselves, we will insist on intruding and searching and managing. To do less would be criminal negligence on the part of our leaders. But in doing it we will be cursed, like the Flying Dutchman of legend, to wander the globe until the day of judgment.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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

03/24/04: Kerry personally vulnerable
03/24/04: Futile finger pointing
03/17/04: The Spanish disease
03/10/04: Euro back-stabbers for Kerry
02/25/04: What makes John Kerry tick?
02/18/04: Kerry's pre-emptive war policy
02/11/04: George W. Bush — grand strategist?
02/04/04: Elections in the age of terror
01/28/04: There's a war on?
01/21/04: It's good that we live in ignorance of the future
01/14/04: The strange case of immigration politics
01/07/04: Funding for American presidential elections is beginning to go global
12/31/03: Make us laugh
12/24/03: War prophesies
12/17/03: Analyze this!
12/10/03: Until peace is ready to be negotiated
12/03/03: AFL-CIO meets Monty Python
11/26/03: Republicans need to learn from the Romans
11/19/03: All of a sudden we have a responsible media?
11/12/03: To arms
11/05/03: Mayor Mike's appetite for self-destructive accusations
10/29/03: A bloody march to peace
10/22/03: Calls for a general 's head because his comments may have ruffled the feathers of our esteemed enemies!?
10/08/03: The leakers' agony
10/01/03: Managing a scandal
09/24/03: Will we have to balance our strong ethical and religious revulsion of cloning against the danger of being surpassed by a gene-manipulated super-race?
09/17/03: The skinny on the First Ladies
09/10/03: More than cynicism will be needed to defeat prez
09/03/03: Dead Man Politickin'
08/27/03: Patience is not America's long suit
08/13/03: George Will's trifecta of punitive aspirations
07/30/03: A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on?
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