Maybe it is just a co-incedence that since Micheal Kinsley's departure at the LA Times, someone has allowed "right thinking" Op-Eds to be posted. If only the Gray Lady in the east could take note.
October 21, 2005 latimes.com : Opinion : Commentary DAVID GELERNTER
A history lessonIt may be news to certain senators, but the U.S. always discovers larger, nobler causes in the midst of battle.
THIS WEEK should have been a time of rejoicing in America. On Wednesday, Saddam Hussein went on trial — the ex-master butcher of Iraq, reeking of blood. And last Saturday, the newly freed Iraqi people pulled off a referendum right under the noses of terrorists whose hearts' desire is to blow democracy to bits. The United States — the armed forces especially, and the Bush administration's leadership — is largely responsible for both these amazing developments. Obviously Iraq is still in deadly danger. But if these two events don't call for congratulations, what kind of world events would?
Yet up on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been called before a Senate committee. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was one of those who questioned her. Boxer was obnoxious and frightening.
She made reference to the Holocaust, offensively. More important, she demonstrated that she doesn't know U.S. history, and she implied that the American people don't either. And she raised an alarming question about contemporary politics. We often hear from Democrats that President Bush's policy in Iraq makes no sense. But how can it make sense to the Barbara Boxers of Congress if they can't understand the explanation?
Rice was defending the administration's conduct of the war when Boxer objected. The administration, Boxer noted (correctly), has changed focus on Iraq. We went to war mainly on account of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism, she said. But WMD turned out to be a hoax on the whole world, and nowadays we are told that our Iraq mission is gigantic. We plan for a freed Iraq to inspire and stabilize the entire Middle East and to promote democracy everywhere. What kind of bait-and-switch is the administration playing with the American people?
Rice answered that this is the way the world works. For example, we did not go into World War II to build a democratic Germany…. Here Boxer interrupted. World War II, she told Rice curtly, has nothing to do with Iraq. Boxer had lost relatives in the Holocaust. No one had to tell her about World War II.
But Rice's analogy was exactly right. And by the way, using the Holocaust as a bat to beat political enemies over the head is demeaning to Jews and to human dignity. Having lost relatives in the Holocaust does not, in any case, confer expertise in U.S. history.
Democracies rarely declare war to improve the world, as Rice could have explained had she had the chance. They fight to protect themselves, sometimes to fulfill treaty obligations. But once a war is underway, free peoples tend to think things over deeply. Casualties concentrate the mind. We refuse to let our soldiers die for too little. America at war has lifted its sights again and again from danger, self-interest and self-defense to a larger, nobler goal. Same story, war after war. Iraq fits perfectly.
At first, Colonial America made war on Britain to loosen the British grip on commerce and society, not to create an independent state. Only as the war dragged on and costs and casualties mounted did public opinion swing round toward independence. In 1861, the North reluctantly made war on the Confederacy to hold the Union together. President Lincoln was painfully aware that, at the start of the fighting, freedom for the slaves would not have commanded popular support as a cause for war. Only later, as casualties mounted and blood ran in rivers, did freeing the slaves become the Union's ultimate goal.
We marched into World War I behind an idealistic war message from President Wilson to Congress. But the U.S. was in a fighting mood because of Germany's threat to sink unarmed American merchant ships and a German secret message (intercepted by Britain) offering Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico if it joined Germany against the U.S. Only later did self-determination in Europe and the creation of a League of Nations become American war goals.
Which brings us to World War II. And, of course, Rice is dead right: Once the war was over, we spent years cultivating democracy in Japan and Germany. But we entered the war because Japan attacked us and, four days later, Adolf Hitler declared war on us.
What do we conclude when the secretary of State makes a plain statement of historical fact and a senator won't listen? That it is only natural for demagogues to attack thoughtful, polite officials who are trying hard to tell straight truths about a complicated war. The Boxers of this world ought to be met with single-minded slogans, but no doubt Rice can't see why she should stoop that low.
Americans who don't know history are the demagogue's natural prey. Boxer's statements assume that Americans at large know as little about history as she does. Let's hope it's not true. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-gelernter21oct21,0,7993456.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions
October 28, 2005 latimes.com : Opinion : Commentary
Americans won't let Democrats lose Iraq
A FEW DAYS AGO, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) made a speech
urging the U.S., in effect, to get out of Iraq the way we got out of
Leahy told the Senate that we cannot win in Iraq. "It has become
increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world
cannot stop a determined insurgency." (U.S. troops, Iraqi troops,
long-suffering Iraqi civilians to Leahy: Thanks, senator, we
needed that.) And Leahy announced that the president must lay
out a public formula to tell the world just when U.S. troops will
leave Iraq. Otherwise, Leahy said, he will urge the Senate to
choke off the war by refusing to fund it. That's how the U.S. finally
lost Vietnam: Congress snuffed out the money.
Be warned, senator: If Democrats become the "let's treat Iraq as
we treated Vietnam" party, the public will turn away in revulsion,
and the Democratic Party will die. It's not in such great shape
Leahy's words lighted up a deep, dark secret that this nation
would rather forget. Defeat in Vietnam was a catastrophe for the
U.S., a body-slam to the nation's self-confidence. It was far worse
for Southeast Asians, who were exiled, imprisoned, tortured and
murdered by their vicious communist conquerors. But for
left-wing Democrats it was a triumph. Forcing the mighty U.S.
military to run away was the greatest victory they have ever
known. That triumph broke a levee that sent a flood of left-wing
ideas pounding across the U.S. landscape.
The 1974 congressional elections were a blow-out victory for
Democrats. Watergate was a big factor, but public exhaustion
with Vietnam (encouraged by the media) helped too. In 1973, the
last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, but Washington had
promised to support South Vietnam with money and weapons.
Congress refused to pay. In March 1975, President Ford made a
desperate last appeal for funds to keep America's promise.
In April 1975, all remaining American diplomats and advisors
were pulled out in a frantic, starvation-budget withdrawal. South
Vietnam collapsed. "The decrease in American aid had made it
impossible for Saigon troops to carry out their combat and
force-development plans," North Vietnam's army chief of staff
When Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, he had large
congressional majorities to work with. Carter described the
Vietnam War as "moral poverty" in action. One of his first acts
was to pardon all draft evaders — at a time when families were
still mourning soldiers dead in battle.
Carter preached anti-anti-communism: As the U.S. military
deteriorated for lack of funds and confidence, and Cuban troops
with Soviet advisors moved into Angola and Ethiopia, Carter's
secretary of State announced that "to oppose Soviet or Cuban
involvement in Africa would be futile." This was foreign policy as
the left liked it.
At home, too, liberals were happy; conservatives weren't. In the
culture wars, feminism and environmentalism, affirmative action
and the sexual revolution swept the country. Words like honor,
bravery and patriotism were out. "Do your own thing" and
"self-esteem" were in.
MANY OBSERVERS have noticed that Democrats of the left speak
of Iraq as another Vietnam. Few have explained why: Because
Democrats of the left want Iraq to be another Vietnam. Not that
they took pleasure in Vietnamese suffering, but they rejoiced in
the left-wing power surge that transformed the United States in
the aftermath. Naturally, they hope to repeat that experience: to
humiliate Republicans, moderate Democrats and the military by
pinning the label "bloody failure" on another foreign war.
It's not going to happen.
Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, and the public knows it. In the recent
referendum, 63% of Iraqi voters cast ballots. Each vote screamed
defiance at terrorism and defeatism. Each vote told the world that
terrorism will lose and democracy will win, that Iraqis trust the
United States to help protect them against vengeful insurgents
bent on murdering whoever dares to hope and care and vote.
An impressive 78% voted "yes" on the new constitution. Sunni
Muslims said no, but many said it at the ballot box. The
referendum made clear that ordinary people everywhere do want
to govern themselves. Democracy could have worked in Vietnam
This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it
Polls show American uneasiness about the war. Naturally. The
fighting is dirty and dangerous. But the U.S. is a God-fearing
nation; we are proving that by battling to spread justice. Polls
also suggest that Americans are resolved to fight in Iraq until the
job is done.
Sen. Leahy thinks that he can smell another Vietnam. Not this
History will provide us with how true Mr. Gelernter's opinion will out. I for one hope it comes true, and the Boxer's and Leahy's of the world slither away. Any political party that wishes failure on a country (like Iraq) for political gain will be sadly (or gladly) reminded in future elections.