“This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will take the fight to the enemy. We will defend our freedom.” – President George W. Bush, June 28, 2005.
In his emotional speech last night to an assembly of soldiers at Ft. Bragg, NC, President Bush did something no commander-in-chief should ever have to do: assure the troops the American people support them, that their sacrifices are not in vain, and that their heroic service is keeping America free. His address should permanently quiet the leftist assertion that Iraq is not the “central front in the War on Terror.” To drive home the point the President quoted Osama bin Laden’s remarks that “the whole world is watching” this “Third World War,” which will end in the jihadists’ “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.” Bush continued:
[W]e fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens — and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there…[W]e will fight them across the world — and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won…We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat; it is courage…When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.
The president merely stated the obvious: America cannot allow her intractable enemies to claim a victory, to regroup, to live to fight another day. The terrorists have chosen to wear down our resolve in Iraq, and we cannot retreat. Why, then, was this speech necessary? Why has public support for a war that is clearly being fought for freedom in the Middle East and to prevent another terrorist attack at home been slipping?
There is one reason, and one reason alone: Because leaders of the opposition party like Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Dick Durbin and Howard Dean have failed to consistently to support the war and its commander-in-chief and have conducted a relentless attack behind the lines to undermine American morale and sabotage the President's policy. In the battle for freedom in the Middle East, American liberalism has been largely AWOL or actively on the other side.
This is, in a word, the most disgraceful period in the history of American liberalism. In all prior wars, Americans, however they differed on economic matters, stood united on foreign policy. Thomas Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon pledged to successfully conclude wars begun by the opposition, never delegitimizing an ongoing war. Even Bill Clinton, as politically irresponsible an individual as ever occupied the White House enlarged the humanitarian operations his predecessor began in Somalia. Despite their distrust for and dislike of Clinton, Republican leaders of Congress -- Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich -- backed his war in the Balkans. Throughout the Cold War and in all the wars after, America's political leaders operated under the dictum, “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” Until now.
Today, high-profile Democrats charge that President Bush and a “cabal” of neo-conservatives plotted to wage war on Iraq without cause, manipulated intelligence, lied about their motivation, got the nation into an endless and deadly “quagmire,” and operated American-run “gulags,” as though there was no enemy out there dedicated to slaughtering millions of Americans by any means necessary. Instead they have ludicrously charged that any enemies who are out there have been created by George Bush, that Iraq is a "magnet for terrorism" as one Democrat put it, as though the magnet were not attracting terrorists who would be attacking us if they were not defending their cause in Iraq.
This toxic rhetoric was on display literally within minutes of the president’s speech. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, told Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes” that the war on Iraq had been cooked up by the Project for a New American Century and Paul Wolfowitz. “Long before 9/11, President Bush wanted to knock off Saddam Hussein.” (Yes, so did President Clinton; that’s been official U.S. policy since he signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998.)
Ted Kennedy made similar charges months ago. Kennedy, speaking for his party’s left-wing activist base, summarized the Bush administration’s conduct of the war: “Week, after week, after week, after week, we were told lie, after lie, after lie, after lie.” After major military operations were completed in a matter of weeks, these leftists agreed the historic Iraq elections would never take place. In the first presidential debate Kerry said, “They can't have an election right now. The president's not getting the job done.” Sen. Evan Bayh, D-IN, a 2008 presidential contender, declaimed, “We’re not going to have successful elections.” Never to be outdone, Ted Kennedy averred these elections “could lead to greater alienation, greater escalation, and greater death – for us and for the Iraqis.” This is psychological warfare aimed at our own side.
When liberty triumphed over the objections of the domestic opponents of the war for freedom in the Middle East, they continued focusing on the “insurrection,” as though the terrorists were fighting against some oppressive occupation and not a liberating force. They justified their obstructionism with the argument that American troops in two years’ time, had not obliterated Islamic terrorism. Nancy Pelosi and 121 other House Democrats now join Senators Kennedy and Harry Reid in demanding the president give them a firm exit strategy, including a timetable for withdrawal – a timetable the president thankfully said will not be forthcoming because it demeans the sacrifices our troops have made in the cause of freedom, will sap their will to fight and will encourage the enemy cause. What a comment on what the Democratic Party has become!
Not content with demanding an early retreat from the battleground of freedom, the Democratic leadership has focused endless attention on giving the enemy psychological victories on two fronts by denouncing the “torture chambers” at Abu Ghraib, and likening the conduct of the incarcerations at Guantanamo to Auschwitz and the gulag. How could this encourage our enemy and not sap our nation's will to resist?
The Left’s sympathy for the devil extends beyond Iraq to the whole of the War on Terror. Then-Democratic presidential frontrunner and current party chairman Howard Dean insisted Osama bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and “resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found.” John Kerry wanted to return the War on Terror to “primarily” an “intelligence-gathering, law enforcement, public-diplomacy effort.” Peter Huessy in today’s issue details several other examples. Even the notion that President Bush knew about 9/11 in advance found an echo among elected officials. There are honorable exceptions. Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, reject these excesses of their own party, but they are an ever-dwindling minority in a camp that everyday sounds more like Michael Moore than Harry Truman.
As President Bush reviewed the terrorists’ actions in Istanbul, Riyadh, Bali, and other locales in last night’s speech – including sending a suicide bomber to blow up a training hospital in Iraq – the Left obsesses over a half-dozen instances in which American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay did not comport themselves like devout Muslims. Although Islamic fundamentalists conduct almost daily car bombings, leftists reserve their ire for U.S. GIs for allegedly for splashing bodily fluids on a book hostile captives tell them demands the violent death of everyone and everything those soldiers are fighting for.
Each Democratic charge designed to place the President beyond the pale has the ricochet effect of wounding our troops’ morale. An emotional President Bush, flush with gratitude, teared-up at the end of his speech when he looked these enlisted men and women in the eyes and told them, “Thank you. And may God bless America.” Fox News’ Carl Cameron said the troops, who had been instructed not to cheer, were riveted to the president throughout. MSNBC’s Donna Gregory reported another set of soldiers watching the speech on TV were “decidedly pro-Bush.” Bush’s simple words showed them, despite the poison partisan rhetoric, Americans love them, and that they are the human agents protecting freedom at home and extending liberty into the darkest regions of the globe. In any other era in American history, they would have never doubted this. Last night’s address was the best speech President Bush should have never had to give.
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