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Friday, November 07, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson, On what this war is Not about.

We had a vote last autumn about going into Iraq. The Senate decided overwhelmingly to give the president the power to go to war — and even earlier it had passed domestic legislation to crack down on terror. All the present screaming about illegality and the excesses of the Patriot Act cannot change the fact that the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary were all involved, as they should be, in the present decisions to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, and here at home against stealthy killer-cells. We have had plenty of time for our versions of Bob Lafollette and Charles Lindbergh, who screamed long, hard, and a little dishonestly to keep America out of its two World Wars.

Yet when war did come, at least their frenzy ceased and the nation closed ranks to defeat the enemy. So when Gen. Clark implies that President Bush knew in advance about 9/11 or when candidates Kerry and Dean insist that the effort in Iraq is characterized by deceit, illegality, and corruption, they and all those who repeat their slurs have crossed the line, and will only earn the wages of a George McClellan who likewise slandered Lincoln as a warmonger, lost the election, and then rightly ended up in bitter retirement.

It is time for Clark, Dean, Kerry and the rest either right now to advocate legislation to stop the war and bring the troops home — or to simply be quiet and support the effort of our soldiers. Any further hysteria about purpose rather than quibbling over tactics, and the American people will rightly conclude that such Democratic invective hurts America and helps its enemies, whose entire strategy of assassination and terror is aimed at appealing to the anti-war movement in the United States.

Vietnam is much evoked by the Democrats, who apparently believe the country was lost in 1973-4 when they cut off money for further support. So it is now the hour for them likewise to conjure up that time-tested Vietnam remedy by cutting off the money, bringing home the soldiers and calling it quits. If they really care about the troops at war, they must either support their efforts or bring them back — but not leave them in limbo as they damn their mission.

We are in a war and we are winning due more to the courage and superb character of our soldiers than to the popular mobilization and engagement of the American citizenry itself. We have the best military in the history of civilization, but we can still lose this war — unless we remember September 11, acknowledge the awful nature of our enemies, and always, always accept the truth that civilization itself hangs in the balance.

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