"A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. … He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist." -- Cicero
Times like these focus the mind. The confluence of events from the 9/11 "Day of Infamy" to Afghanistan and now Iraq, has given us a once-in-a-lifetime moment of national clarity. We must take from it every kernel of truth it reveals before that clarity fades with memory.
In war, people die. In some wars, nations die. War, preparations for war and measures to prevent war are the most serious business a nation can conduct. All else is subordinate. The environmentalists would say it’s the environment. Wrong. The social workers would say it’s social programs. Wrong. The health advocates would say it’s health policy. Wrong. The anti-tax crowd would say it’s lower taxes. Still wrong.
Whatever your view on these subordinate issues, as goes the nation, so they go too. Without our wealth-producing market economy, there would be no capital for environmental projects. There would be no funds for social policy. There would be no money for health initiatives or anything else. The first priority of our government must always be national defense.
Somehow, between World War II and 9/11 we forgot this.
Despite the many cries in the wilderness from professionals in the military, intelligence and security fields, we forgot the crucial value of good military and political intelligence. We forgot the absolute necessity of maintaining a top-notch fighting force. We dismissed as paranoid delusion the idea that some people are truly out to get us. We derisively ridiculed seemingly pointless security procedures required at airports and other facilities. We forgot that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
Perhaps some is due to complacency borne of our geographic isolation and the fact that we have not had a shooting war on our shores for over 138 years. Absent an immediate threat, the natural human tendency is to become complacent. Also, our historical tradition has been to draw down the military after any large conflict. Our founders warned against the dangers of a standing army.
But there is much more to it than that. The political Left in this country, including people in the news media, entertainment, education, religion, think tanks (many of which are fronts for hostile foreign governments and organizations), even some past and present members of Congress and past Administrations, have over the years successfully sought to undermine both our national defense and intelligence functions – indeed the very fabric of our society – for the purpose of ultimately destroying it, all the while hiding behind the fig leaf of "free speech." In so doing, they made us vulnerable to attack from directions even they didn’t anticipate. They are still active today, but thanks to our recently revived national spirit, temporarily on the defensive.
It took 9/11 and the subsequent military action for our people to comprehend the ramifications of blinding our national eyes and ears. Today, we find ourselves asking how it got so far out of hand. Few now question the need for active intelligence gathering and a strong military. Indeed, many of those in Congress who used to criticize our intelligence agencies for being too intrusive are now asking why they are not more so. Virtually everybody claims to "support our troops."
Yet we still suffer the after-effects of long-term complacency. Anti-American activity seems like some kind of quaint rite. Radical activists are treated like celebrities. Hollywood actors boost their careers and their egos by excoriating our leaders (but they support the troops – really they do).
Over the past 30 years, members of Congress have blatantly aided and abetted enemies of our country. The outspoken Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, for example, lobbied for the release of jailed El Salvadorian FMLN terrorists during that country’s civil war. So did then-Rep. Barbara Boxer, D-CA. Instead of being investigated for her activities on behalf of communists, Nancy Pelosi has been elected by her Democratic colleagues as the House Minority Leader! Boxer went on to become a U.S. Senator.
Many congressmen made a notorious trip to Nicaragua in the 1980s to discuss ways Daniel Ortega’s communist government could counter President Ronald Reagan’s strategy there. Relatives of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, conducted business with the communist government of Angola while Kennedy himself voted against funding the Angolan anti-communist rebels we supported. Former Rep. Ron Dellums, D-CA, often bragged of his desire to dismantle U.S. intelligence "brick by brick." The charming Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, never met a leftist dictator she didn’t love. Don’t even get me started on Bill.
No one has ever challenged these blatantly seditious activities.
Instead, we congratulate ourselves for our "open-minded" tolerance of this malevolent behavior, never fully acknowledging its long-term impact. Even in Iraq, anti-American protests, obvious propaganda tactics, are casually dismissed as "free speech." But is it?
There is a fine line between legitimate protest and outright sedition. There is a fine line between our citizens’ legitimate need for privacy and the opportunity it provides conspirators to hide and plot. Concern for the former, however, provides no excuse for condoning the latter. Too often politicians have taken that excuse, and in so doing abdicated their pledge to "defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic .… " They choose to avoid the hard questions and tough fights. The 9/11 terrorist strike was one consequence of this. If we don’t learn, there will be more.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s methods against suspected American communists in the 1950s may have been wrong, but they were based on a legitimate premise, namely, that we do have enemies within.
The Army-McCarthy hearings for example, which focused in large part on spy activities at the Army Signal Corps Ft. Monmouth, NJ facility (where Julius Rosenberg had worked for a time) spelled the beginning of his downfall, when Attorney for the Army Joseph Welch posed the famous question: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" Three years later however, Congress shut down the Ft. Monmouth facility—determined to be irretrievably penetrated by Soviet agents.
Many politicians in both the Democrat and Republican parties agreed with McCarthy. One of his most ardent friends and supporters, John F. Kennedy, once expressed his outrage at a Harvard Spree Club dinner when the speaker compared McCarthy to convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss. JFK stood up, interrupting the speaker, and said: "How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!" He then walked out. Bobby Kennedy was minority counsel on McCarthy’s Senate investigations subcommittee staff. The Left would much prefer we didn’t remember JFK and RFK’s inconvenient anti-communism.
In part because of McCarthy’s failure, our reluctance to seriously investigate domestic subversive organizations really has its roots in this period. As noted columnist and conservative talk show host Chuck Morse relates: "The substantial power the left wielded over our government and media was on full display in the concerted campaign to stop McCarthy, who, in hindsight, has been vindicated of all charges. Politicians who would henceforth be more circumspect when investigating communist or any other subversive element in government heard the lesson of McCarthy's downfall loud and clear. Average citizens, at least subliminally conscious of the auto da fe McCarthy had been put through, would also learn to curb their criticism of the left as well."
But in those times even the communists sometimes revealed what they were up to. For example, the Soviet funded People’s Daily World newspaper explained a Hollywood studio strike thusly: "Hollywood is often called the land of Make-Believe, but there is nothing make-believe about the Battle of Hollywood being waged today…The prize will be the complete control of the greatest medium of communication in history." As Stalin said: "If I could control Hollywood, I could rule the world."
Those forces still exist in Hollywood today and at least partially explain why so many movies we see tend to have anti-American overtones. In fact, actors who want to be successful in Hollywood implicitly understand the necessity of being Politically Correct. Conservative actors attempting to get regular employment face their own "Blacklist".
Many of the organizations investigated in the 1950s have continued to thrive and grow while we have looked the other way. Seeing fertile ground, new ones have popped up.
Loyal Americans need to agree on a methodology for attacking this problem. That means bruising political battles, because some people in virtually all professional disciplines lie with the enemy and many others unknowingly support them. We have allowed them to weasel their way into positions of power that give them direct influence over measures intended to expose and stop them. Yet it has never been clearer just how dangerous these individuals and groups are.
You want to protest American policies? Fine. But if your activities serve to undermine our national security and threaten our collective future, we don’t have to tolerate it. After all, your actions are really threatening our lives. Threats like that cannot go unchallenged.
It is unfortunate that the death and destruction of a 9/11 and the untimely deaths and injuries of our young men and women in battle were needed to get our attention. But they have, at least temporarily.
So now we must seize the moment: The 9/11 victims and the troops who sacrificed all in Afghanistan and Iraq stand mute sentinel over our collective national conscience. We cannot let them down.