Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Striking a Chord: Bush's speech outlining his vision for a free and democratic Middle East is being hailed around the world as the right course of action to take. Now that his goals are front and center, they can't be pushed off to the side.

The one criticism I hear is that Bush hasn't said how he's going to accomplish his goals. I say he doesn't need to explain how, because he's already showing us. The liberation of Iraq is the first step toward realizing that vision. It won't be the last.

While the U.S. won't invade and liberate all countries in the region, pressure should be applied nonetheless for Middle Eastern nations to stop supporting terrorism and to adopt democratic reforms. And Iraq is an example of what happens if a country doesn't cooperate. Nobody can say the U.S. isn't to be taken seriously.

We aren't attacking the Middle Eastern people or the religion of Islam. But we need to do much more than arrest some individuals who plan terrorist attacks. The Middle Eastern culture needs to change so it does not act as a haven for terrorists. We need to make sure the wealth of the region is shared so its people don't look to suicide attacks and militant jihad as promising endeavors.

The only way to do that is to get rid of the dictatorships, install democracy, and promote prosperity in the region. Terrorism lurks in all the dark corners of the Middle East. It's that terrorism with which we are at war.

War is hell, but war is not, in and of itself, the worst of all evils. It was used to win the U.S. its freedom. It was used to end slavery. It was used to defeat the Nazis. War is a tool. You can use it for good or for evil. But aggression can only be defeated with force.

Critics may try to attack the way Bush executes his plan. But none of Bush's opponents are offering an alternative plan that's viable. None of them have expressed their own vision. That's why they appear weak.

While they don't come up with any coherent plan for making this country safer, critics are constantly sounding the alarm that not enough is being done to protect the homeland. They criticize the Patriot Act, but then they call for more police protection to stop terrorists even though it is impossible to guard against every conceivable attack here at home. That's why the U.S. is taking the fight to the terrorists in the Middle East.

Critics object to everything that is being done while saying we're not doing enough. This doesn't contribute to the debate, but instead it allows Bush's opponents to benefit politically when the next terrorist strike inevitably occurs. Such political manipulation is despicable.

The idea of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and surrounding regions is spreading. Iraq's dictator has been expunged, and a constitution will be formed. Afghanistan has shaken off the Taliban and has liberated its people, especially the women, from oppressive rule. Now some Iranians have been calling for the U.S. Marine Corps to topple their theocratic regime and install democracy.

It seems many critics are concerned that Bush is going on a trigger-happy spree and will invade Syria and Iran (these same people often ask why we aren't invading Saudi Arabia and North Korea). But Bush isn't being reckless. Liberating Iraq is akin to tipping that first domino. Granted, the rest won't topple overnight. But it's possible we could eventually see profound change in the Middle East.

I remember on the day of September 11, 2001, many of my liberal friends were saying that they were happy someone like Bush is in office while this is happening. They were confident that he would be strong and decisive and would fight our enemy head on.

Now that Bush is doing what they wanted him to do, they are getting scared and having second thoughts. I think we should tell Bush to keep fighting the good fight.

Even if Bush is re-elected, he won't be in office long enough to see his vision come to fruition. But that's not important. He's planting the seed, he's providing the leadership, and he's taking the initiative. And we'll all be safer in the long run.


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