Let’s forget Bush for a moment. George W. Bush is a very odd vessel for what is the most important message of our time: that there are implacable forces in the world that hate us, our way of life, our vibrant culture, our personal freedom, and those forces will do all they can to kill us. This is a real war. There are various sources of this ideology, but they are quite willing to set aside their differences to act against us, “the enemy of my enemy” and all.
These forces share – or in the case of Saddam, at least paid/pay lip-sevice to – a constricted, debased form of exceptionalist Islam, a demand for absolute theocracy, the predominance of the theocratic state over the individual, and a messianic requirement to convert or kill every human being on earth who does not bend to their will. The United States, representing the apex of all they hate most, including the force to hold back their aspirations to world domination – and this isn’t the slightest exaggeration – is their primary target, but proxy targets are perfectly legitimate, as the president stated last night:
- Now is the time, and Iraq is the place, in which the enemies of the civilized world are testing the will of the civilized world. We must not waver.
The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar. The terrorists who take hostages or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew.
We’ve seen the same ideology of murder in the killing of 241 Marines in Beirut, the first attack on the World Trade Center, in the destruction of two embassies in Africa, in the attack on the USS Cole, and in the merciless horror inflicted upon thousands of innocent men and women and children on September the 11th, 2001.
None of these acts is the work of a religion. All are the work of a fanatical political ideology. The servants of this ideology seek tyranny in the Middle East and beyond. They seek to oppress and persecute women.
They seek the death of Jews and Christians and every Muslim who desires peace over theocratic terror. They seek to intimidate America into panic and retreat, and to set free nations against each other. And they seek weapons of mass destruction, to blackmail and murder on a massive scale.
Over the last several decades, we’ve seen that any concession or retreat on our part will only embolden this enemy and invite more bloodshed. And the enemy has seen, over the last 31 months, that we will no longer live in denial or seek to appease them.
For the first time, the civilized world has provided a concerted response to the ideology of terror – a series of powerful, effective blows.
The terrorists have lost the shelter of the Taliban and the training camps in Afghanistan. They have lost safe havens in Pakistan. They lost an ally in Baghdad. And Libya has turned its back on terror.
They’ve lost many leaders in an unrelenting international manhunt. And perhaps more frightening to these men and their movement, the terrorists are seeing the advance of freedom and reform in the greater Middle East. [AP]
Set aside the source for a moment: every word of this is profoundly true, the importance is the song, not the singer. I honestly don’t care all that much about the singer and have many differences with him in other areas. But somehow, someway, this particular man grasped on 9/11 that all of the incidents listed above ARE connected, cannot be addressed piecemeal, cannot be addressed in a defensive mode – as every Western leader and every American president, Republican and Democrat alike, had previously done – and that decisive, resolute, offensive action was the only possible way to win this war, a war we did not seek, and in fact assiduously sought to avoid prior to 9/11.
The question of the moment is, is Iraq a genuine part of this war? It sure as hell is now. As Bush very keenly stated, the key to this war is to stay on the offense, to keep taking the battle to the enemy. Afghanistan was first for obvious reasons: al Qaeda perpetrated 9/11 and al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, where it was welcomed and protected by the Taliban.
But where to go next? Offense requires offensive action, and Iraq was the obvious next step: a brutally vile and oppressive regime that had proved itself a danger to its own people, its neighbors, and the world at large, and one that EVERYONE believed had weapons of mass destruction.
Where are we now? At a troubling, difficult time, and one that must be taken very seriously. Again, Bush has his priorities exactly right: sovereignty will be turned over to Iraqis at the end of June, we will remain to provide security for the infant democracy, we will provide the military whatever it needs – including increasing troop strength – to do its job, we will not waver.
These were the things I needed to hear last night and I heard them. The war on terror is the most important issue of our time – Bush reconvinced me he knows that, he has even staked his reelection campaign upon it, the message came through and the message counts infinitely more than the messenger.