ON BEHALF OF UNGRATEFUL NATIONS
The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
If my wife and I ever decide to traverse the Old Country, I’ll be sure and pack a special bag for France, one containing all the necessary accoutrements to blend in seamlessly into le haute couture. Decked out in my Texan Lucchese cowboy boots, an oversized stars & stripes belt buckle, my NRA ballcap and a George W. Bush high-fiving Jesus t-shirt, I’ll gladly mortify my better half by munching on a quarter-pound…er…royale w/cheese while asking everyone in earshot for directions to the Paris Hilton from the rolled-down window of a rented Hummer H2.
"Excusay-moi, monseniors. But do y’all happen to speak German?"
"Non, monsieur. We do not."
Have they forgotten their own history? Or more importantly, are we doomed to repeat it for them?
Over the past six years, an outbreak of European birdbrain flu has slowly but steadily made its way across the pond, fueling an intellectual insurgency that's raging through the fever swamps within our universities, newsrooms, and bookstore coffee bars. Those terminally infected are still relatively small in number, though in a reverse-quarantine they command immediate attention from media televirologists the world over whenever and wherever they surface to spread their contagion.
Europe’s gunboat diplomacy of yore has gone out of favor, out of style, and out of date, replaced with a nouvelle vague don’t-rock-the-boat disability. Which is convenient, considering that over the previous decade the Old World combined has budgeted less for military hardware upgrades than we have on targeting software updates alone.
Still, the domestic Barnes & Noblesse oblige crowd -- with their claptrappucchinos and their sophisticated taste for yellow (dog) journalism -- are hardly the world-weary isolationists they pretend to be. American interventionism did not appear particularly troubling to these citizen-skeptics during the previous decade when it pertained to solely humanitarian impulses; but add American security to the mix and suddenly their travel mugs spilleth over. Within the span of one electoral cycle any prevailing charitable impulses evaporated, leaving nothing but a naked desire for America and its military might to be knocked off its pedestal; to be sent packing from the Middle East with its tail between its legs, humiliated and discredited before an Islamic world that respects only strength and routinely mistakes kindness for weakness.
To believe as such is assuredly their prerogative as Americans. But with any civil liberties come civic responsibility. True, our hard-won freedoms protect the right to march on Washington, spin elaborate webs of intrigue about the powers that be, and rudely shout down invited speakers at commencement addresses. But they also protect the right to drink Zima, name your children after fruit, and wear socks with sandals. Just because you can do it doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea.
Take the liberal pullout method as it relates to the war -- cynical sixties defeatism at it’s worst. (And who would’ve guessed there were still so many G'n'R fans out there?) The same people who scoff at the idea of abstinence being taught to our children deem it perfectly reasonable for the main plank of our foreign policy platform. (In reality, they’d just as soon abort the effort as we enter the third trimester, but so far we’ve made up our minds, we’re keeping our baby.) "There are ideas so absolutely stupid that only an intellectual could possibly believe them," said Orwell, the ideological ancestor of the House of Blair. "The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact." Indeed, a Concorde-speed flight from fact that would behoove us to impress upon the modern antiwar Left. Representative Murtha, call your office.
We all draw our own conclusions, some just use crayon and have trouble staying inside the lines.
Hey Gray Lady, Le Monde's on the horn. They want their knee-jerk reportage back. For all you stubborn Luddites who insist on sticking with Old Media, go right ahead. Peruse your illusions. As for the rest of us, there's been few sources of pepto dismal for this chronic casus belliaching other than the League of Extraordinary Amateurs. The meteoric rise of the milblogs has provided a notable reprieve from the mendacious mediacrity of previous American conflicts: spotlighting erroneous reporting; outing phony Ft. Braggart veterans; highlighting troop heroics that in another era would already have been greenlighted into John Wayne trilogies. Someone must have told Hollywood producers circa 1968 that discretion was the better part of valor, because they've certainly taken it to heart and never looked back.
What can we do?, you ask. We’re but a silent majority, cowed by a vocal insanity. Know thine enemy. Venture forth into the Democratic Underground lairs -- the chant rooms that drip with bile and venom. Sample the moonbat-out-of-hell message boards that seethe with hatred for all things conservative, military, traditional, patriotic, or anti-anti-American. The New England expatriates and Jon Stewart Mills ("War is a funny thing, but not the funniest of things…"); the nationalism = Nazism Kos-heads and Huffington Post-er children for Bush Derangement Syndrome -- they’re not just left-of-center. They’re left of Darth Nader.
We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Nations General Assembly. And to the collectivist utopia for which it stands, One World Government, under (non-denominational moment of silence), dependent on the state, with licentiousness and social justice for all.
While we’re preoccupied with fostering tolerance and liberty abroad, at home it is being undermined by our own American madrasas; spreading self-hatred for our origins, our history, and the long-held traditions of our dominant culture. Mission fait Accompli!
"Incurious" minds want to know: Is our children learning? Or are they still trying to figure out what the meaning of "is" is?
If you are unaware of what precisely is being inculcated into your kids' fuzzy little heads, go ahead, ask them sometime. (Assuming you can tear them away from the X-box long enough to hold a two-way conversation.) Quiz them on what they’ve learned in school or at that really expensive college your tuition money is paying their bar tabs for. Ask them what they learn when they’re plugged into the Matrix that is our current American education system. Ask them what they think about the ideals upon which this country was founded and what they continue to mean today. Ask them what it is that we’re memorializing on that three-day weekend that falls at the end of every May.
For grades K through 9, expect to get a blank stare. The Anointed Ones view unapologetic patriotism as indoctrination bordering on religion (and we all know how welcome that is in the public schools.) Besides, the teacher’s unions take advantage of these formative early years to quote/unquote: "format the hard drives." But for the learner’s permit crowd and above who‘ve actually read their unreadable history texts: if you find yourself on the receiving end of some bizzaro emotionally-charged rant elaborately weaving the Halliburton Address to the military-industrial complexity of the environmental destruction of the endangered wetlands habitats due to the increased human traffic from the underground undocumented workers railroad run by proto-feminist Sacagawea as she exercised her Womyn of Color’s Right to Choose to prevent transnational robber barons from pillaging the Native American coastal oil reserves…
Don’t write me, write your congressperson. That is, unless you happen to reside and vote in either the Uncommonwealth of Massachusetts or the People’s Republic of California. (In which case, you're probably better off writing someone else‘s).
19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer revealed all truth to pass through three stages: "First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as being self-evident." The American idiotocracy worships anyone they feel speaks "truth to power," believing in their heart of hearts they remain founding members of the counterculture club for Boomers without Borders. To ex-Peace Corps commandos like Hardball's Chris Matthews, the Woodwards & Bernstein legacy is one of forever young dynamic duos of Davids hitting below the Beltway against real or imagined goliaths. But the very truths they hold dear are often illuminating in the lies of the beholder.
Need an easy to remember yardstick for measuring the military’s progress in the Middle East? Repeat after me: "No news is good news." This works on two levels. One: very little of what is reported will ever be good news, and two: good news for us but bad news for them is the inability to dream up anything “fake but accurate” to report that day. But just when you think the irrational exuberance of the Loony Tunes Left is on the verge of bursting their own conspiracy bubbles, they‘re saved by those pesky bellwethers of Ba'athist belligerence whose die-easy nature belie their die-hard intent.
But even many of the remnants of Vichy Iraq not actively fighting us are content to sit back and watch as fellow Muslim instigators foment chaos within their country, about which they do little or nothing. Some are active collaborators, others simply too afraid to get involved. But involved they already are. While we don’t expect all of them to pick up a gun, we do expect them to pick up a phone.
There can be no impartiality regarding an enemy that makes no distinctions between uniformed personnel and civilians. How do I know this? Osama bin Laden said it back in 1998, the Year of 'That Woman': "We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians." In other words, banning ROTC from the WTC would not have lessened the KIA from bin Laden’s live-to-tape remake of Gone in 60 Seconds one iota. Could anything have? The FBI? CIA? INS? U-S-A? S-O-L.
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises, maintain their neutrality.
Hotter than even the Middle East? That’s a level of warmth I never want to experience. Then again, I’m betting Dante never had to survive a Mesopotamian summer dressed up like a samurai.
Of the hundreds of myriad conflicts around the globe at any given time, Muslims are usually involved on one side or the other, or in most cases, both. Is this the ripened fruit of their once magnificent civilization? Is this all they have to offer the world? The Hammurabic code, the numeric zero, then rioting, religious war, street violence, death threats, kidnappings, beheadings, fear, loathing, and fatwas? Is there anything in the last seven hundred years they can point to and say, "Look, we did this" -- other than the Islamic Enfrightenment?
Hyperventilating over cartoon drawings only further cements the hyperviolent caricature to which the Islamic religion has in recent year succumbed. Without the West, those precious Middle Eastern oil deposits would still be just a sticky black worthless goo thousands of feet below ground. But on their own merit alone, their societies haven’t produced so much as a toaster oven.
Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely like the majority of the Iraqi people I‘ve met. Many of them are no different than you or I. But they are a complex lot, these Iraqis. For every Jalal Talibani or Ali al-Sistani there’s a Moqtada al-Sadr or a what's- his-face. But our nation has given Iraq a unique chance to start over. A rare opportunity to build up and create rather than tear down and destroy. And every so often they seem to insist on flushing it all away.
Let every nation know, whether they wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to ensure the survival and success of liberty.
Identifying with those words four years ago on a marble gravemarker in Arlington overlooking an eternal flame, I wondered at the time if they were the anachronism -- or I was.
I’ll admit I’m not always as confident in Iraq’s future as I may seem. There are times when I feel our nomex-gloved hands that've been rocking the cradle of civilization have developed carpal tunnels. There are some days when I would be glad to leave this part of the world tomorrow and watch from the comfort of my living room as the country self-destructs on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, the BBC... If nothing else, it’d be almost worth the price of admission of failure just to watch those jackals try and top their own hysterical news reports of the past three years. "This just in: Iraq really is a quagmire! And this time we’re not totally full of [bleep]!"
The northern Kurds are similarly fed up with the inexplicable unrest in their nation‘s southern Koran Belt. "We should just seal ourselves off from the rest," I’ve often been told by our U.S.-contracted interpreters from Dohuk. "In Kurdistan we are safe, we are free, we are prospering. Let the Shia and Sunnis fight amongst themselves. Let them all go kill each other if that is all they know to do."
The leading cause of violent death for Iraqis is overwhelmingly Muslim on Muslim. A tennis coach and a few of his players were recently gunned down on the streets of Baghdad for the blasphemous crime of wearing shorts. (But presumably, not socks with sandals.) Which of course begs the question: What exactly were Mohammed’s views on proper tennis court attire?
But an American army doesn’t quit simply because something is difficult. When has war ever been easy? Like Iraq’s fledgling democracy, we also were born out of wedlock and nearly died during delivery. But we improvised. We adapted. We overcame. We out-Darwinned Darwin. Our own founding four-star believed that "perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages." Perhaps it's cornball to admit, but many of us still believe that. The military ranks may be chock full of cynical optimists, but no one mocks our own anachronistic idealism better than we do.
Any Middle Eastern nation replete with palaces but sans parliament buildings will never get the memo that Israel is not the source of their frustrations and America is not the appropriate outlet for their anger. Those who cannot petition their government for a redress of grievances will instead they take them out on us. The Iraqi people had been ritually abused and raised under a climate of fear for three decades. It may be that this cycle of violence can never be unlearned by those who have internalized it. But it can be broken. The next generation of Iraqi children will not despise the West in lieu of their own self-loathing, like their parents before them. Our camouflaged ambassadors -- likely the only Americans they will ever meet -- have seen to that personally.
If a future prosperous Iraq never throws a parade in our honor, never remembers the sacrifices of those who paved the way for their newfound freedom and prosperity; if the greater Middle East fails to note which country has been the most relentless defender of Muslims worldwide in the history of the world -- Lebanon, Kuwait, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan... Even if 40 years hence the Mid East pulls a Japan on us and starts building better cars, exporting more electronics, and buying up all the primo real estate on our own shores -- bully for them. We don’t work for tips and we don’t need anyone’s gratitude. Veterans know what they did and why they did it; they don’t need to wait around for Tom Brokaw to write a new bestseller in order to feel proud of their service.
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace...
Less than one one percent of the American voting populace currently serves in the combat arms, about the same percentage as the tiny sliver of troop misconduct that white-collar memesters delight in painting the rest of us with the same tainted brush. (Haditha: Coming soon to bumper stickers everywhere).
But as we approach the one millionth uniformed customer of the three-year-old war ("Iraq: over a million served"), it bears reiterating that our nation’s most basic responsibility is to provide for the common defense by supplying the manpower needs of its military. (That includes you too, 90210.) The government’s job is just to sign the checks. Yet recruiters continue to be harassed off campuses and embattled in public venues even as our so-called elites prattle on about enlistment shortfalls and the need to bring back the draft for thee but not for me.
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy...
We fully realize that you don’t want your children to have to face the prospect of dying in some far-off foreign land. You know, we don’t particularly relish the idea ourselves. But we also don’t want to see any more of our fellow citizens being incinerated, perhaps next time by a French-made Airbus piloted by French-bred Arab immigrants who received their terrorist training in French-fubarred Algeria. That’s why we’re serving now during this unusually turbulent era: so that our own families will not have to face that prospect thirty years hence at the mall or in a high-rise office building or on their way to work in a subway tunnel. If America’s building safety codes are updated in the near future to reflect a new parachute and gas mask requirement, then you will know we have failed.
One can’t help but wonder what percentage of French schoolchildren -- or French adults, for that matter -- could identify the significance of June 6th in the annals of our two nations. (For those of you scratching your heads, wondering what Father’s Day could possibly have to do with the only country glad to see Lance Armstrong retire -- you owe your American heritage approximately 2,500 pushups. Start now.) Ditto for Omaha and Utah Beaches, the 101st Airborne, the Marshall Plan... I wonder how many realize that a brigadier general and son of a former American president landed with the opening waves of Allied troops on D-Day, earning the Medal of Honor for rallying his men to press in the face of murderous enemy fire? Cricket, cricket...
Following the Second World War, both Germany and its snooty neighbor lived under the umbrella of America’s protection for nearly half a century. We didn’t birth them, but took them in when no one else would and with the Soviet bear salivating at the door. For fifty years we nurtured, protected, and ultimately, spoiled them. And like any overindulged teenagers, naturally they came to hate their guardians. "You’re not our real parents!"
Some things never change.
Lucky for human freedom, America never will:
It is not in our nature to seek out wars and conflicts. But whenever they have come, when adversaries have left us no alternative, American men and women have stood ready to take the risks and to pay the ultimate price.
People of the same caliber and the same character today fill the ranks of the Armed Forces of the United States. Any foe who might ever challenge our national resolve would be repeating the grave errors of defeated enemies.
Because this nation loves peace, we do not take it for granted. Because we love freedom, we are always prepared to bear even its greatest costs.
President George W. Bush
Memorial Day Address, Arlington National Cemetery
May 28, 2001