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It Will Come Down to Fortitude (Must Read)
The American Enterprise ^ | Sept. 2005 | Karl Zinsmeister

Posted on 08/03/2005 7:24:30 AM PDT by Valin

Just imagine if George Bush had predicted to us on the morning after September 11, 2001 what actually ended up happening….

Our forces will go to faraway Afghanistan and remove the Taliban within six weeks upon arrival. Democracy will follow for all Afghans…. Most of the leadership of al-Qaeda will be scattered into hiding, apprehended, or killed…. We will liberate Iraq from Saddam’s Baathist nightmare and stay on to help the long-suffering Iraqi people secure their freedom under a new democracy…. We must expose the nuclear proliferator Dr. A. Q. Khan and cease his efforts to spread nuclear weapons worldwide…. America will seek democratic awakenings in Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf states.... Syria must and will leave Lebanon…. Gadhafi in Libya will come clean about his dangerous arsenal…. Arafat will be shunned and his subsidies cut off. Only that way can fair elections return to the West Bank…. All American troops will leave the Saudi Kingdom...whose rogue princes have funded terrorists….

Had the President promised or even predicted such things after September 11, most of us would have dismissed him as utterly unhinged. But that is precisely what has come to pass.
—Victor Davis Hanson, Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2005

Militarily and diplomatically, an enormous amount has been accomplished across different parts of the globe since September 11, 2001. Back home, though, in our own politics and culture, much of America has been surprisingly little changed by the most deadly attack ever on our homeland.

You can see this in many places. For instance, for more than two years now I’ve been trying to gin up an article for TAE cataloguing some worthy art inspired by 9/11. Surely, I assumed, an event of this historical moment and psychological impact must have hatched lots of powerful poems and plays and pictures. I was wrong.

Here was a cataclysm whose Ground Zero was literally a stroll away from the main centers of American painting and sculpture, music composition, filmmaking, literature production, and other imaginative work. You would think the sheer magnitude of this event in their own backyards would have grabbed the imagination of many artists (not to mention editors and producers and gallery owners) and sent cadres of long-haired men and short-haired women running to their studios to produce arresting works.

Yet this hasn’t happened. There is no “Guernica” painted for 9/11. Nothing like The Red Badge of Courage, or All Quiet on the Western Front, or Slaughterhouse-Five has been written. No “Music for Prague 1968,” or anything close, is now being played. The Manhattan creative class hasn’t produced even a Forrest Gump to capture in popular form the circumstances and emotions of that searing day.

Why not? My conclusion, after watching this odd black hole spread through America’s creative communities over several years, is that most contemporary artists are unwilling to absorb the hard lessons of this event. They’d rather not face the implications.

Lord knows, the creative class mobilized their artistry in response to the AIDS epidemic. Remember the endless AIDS Quilt projects? The interminable string of Broadway plays documenting the personal horrors of HIV?

But recognizing that America has ruthless and evil Third World enemies who will kill us unless we kill them first? Umm, I think I’d rather work on my novel about the secret repression of gay pastors in Dallas, or polish my screenplay assailing greedy corporations for selling infant formula in Africa.

Where did our unity go?

I can inform you that as I spend time with American soldiers in the combat zones of the Middle East these days they tell me how surreal it sometimes seems when they compare their recent life to the behaviors of many citizens back home. “I walk through airports and cities, and you’d never know we’re at war,” one Army commander told me in May. “There are all the yellow ribbons on the cars now, and that’s kind of nice. But for part of the country at least it’s just, you know, life as usual. TV. What restaurant are we going to eat in tonight? Political bitching and moaning.
Lots of people seem to have forgotten that there are folks out here who want to kill Americans. Any American, they don’t care. These killers are enterprising, and fierce. And I don’t think lots of U.S. citizens realize what could happen if we don’t stand up to them.”

Many of the shifts in American thinking that did take place after the 9/11 attacks have proven ephemeral. In his article beginning on page 28, for instance, Fred Siegel notes that “the chasm between New York City and the rest of America” was “temporarily closed” amidst the soberness sparked by the collapse of the Twin Towers. But today? The cultural gap between Manhattan Island and Manhattan, Kansas “has reopened as wide as ever.”
In his book Who Are We?, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington illustrates how fleeting some of the national unity that followed 9/11 turned out to be:

Charles Street, the principal thoroughfare on Boston’s Beacon Hill, is a comfortable street bordered by four-story brick buildings with apartments above shops on the ground level. At one time, American flags regularly hung over the entrances [but by] September 11, 2001, the liquor store flag flew alone. Two weeks later, 17 flags flew on this block….
In their surge of patriotism, Charles Streeters were at one with people throughout America…. After September 11, the flag was everywhere.... In early October, 80 percent of Americans said they were displaying the flag…. The flags were physical evidence of a sudden and dramatic...transformation exemplified by the comment on October 1 of a young woman named Rachel Newman: “When I was 19, I moved to New York City…. If you asked me to describe myself then, I would have told you I was a musician, a poet, an artist, a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew. Being an American wouldn’t have made my list…. On September 11, all that changed. I realized that I have been taking the freedoms I have here for granted. Now I have an American flag on my backpack, I cheer at the fighter jets as they pass overhead, and I am calling myself a patriot.”

September 11…sent Old Glory back to the top of the national flag pole. Will it stay there? The 17 flags on Charles Street declined to 12 in November, nine in December, seven in January, five in March, and were down to four by the first anniversary of the attacks…. Does it take an Osama bin Laden, as it did for Rachel Newman, to make us realize that we are Americans? If we do not experience recurring destructive attacks, will we return to the fragmentation and eroded Americanism of before September 11?

Recovery, and self-flagellation

In many ways, it’s astonishing that the horrendous events of 9/11 (and all that followed) haven’t left bigger ripples across America. In some sectors, of course, we can be very pleased that they didn’t.
The fact that our financial and economic engines so easily shrugged off Mohammed Atta and company, for example, is gratifying. We all take America’s growth machine terribly for granted, but it’s rather miraculous that the U.S. is now 15 percent more productive (in real GDP) than it was on the day before the war on terror erupted.
We’ve endured stock-exchange crashes, a collapse of travel, oil price spikes, airline bankruptcies, burdensome new defense and security spending totalling hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and many other problems—yet in spite of it all the U.S. will grow 4 percent richer this year, and robustly lead the rest of the industrial world toward continuing prosperity.

In other areas, however, one can’t help but be saddened to see how quickly the resolve that swept the civilized world in the fall of 2001 has disappeared. Many of the steely insights forged in those gruesome jet-fuel fires have now rusted away. The French editor who proclaimed “We Are All Americans” in a September 12, 2001 banner headline was backpedalling within days, and now whines about whether the prisoners’ mattresses are too thin at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

He takes his cues from America’s own critics of the war on terror. Michael Moore has popularized the idea that the main result of U.S. foreign policy in recent decades has been “bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.” Please recall that this man’s view of the terror war was endorsed by the Democrats’ party chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and their Senate leader, Tom Harkin, and that he was seated in the place of honor next to ex-President Carter at last year’s Democratic National Convention.

Right now, the Washington establishment is completely tied in knots by news that over several years there have been five incidents at the terrorist prison on Guantanamo Bay (from which we have an interesting eyewitness account—see page 34) where guards showed insufficient respect for the Koran. For which the guards were disciplined. Meanwhile, investigators probing the issue found that prisoners themselves have physically abused copies of the Koran three times as often as the guards.

The reality is that today’s terrorist detainees are given better medical care and food than most of them have ever had in their lives, plus a panoply of prayer books, chaplains, a call to worship five times per day, guidance on facing Mecca, banishment of guards during prayer times, and other accommodations.
We wouldn’t want their maniacal attachments to Islam to wither, after all! The standing procedure of the soldiers running the Guantanamo facility is actually to issue every prisoner a little sling so he can suspend the Koran in mid-air in his cell, preventing it from ever touching the ground. Talk about bending over backwards.

The claims of “abuse” at Guantanamo that are being lapped up so hungrily by anti-U.S. Europeans and Americans often center around horrors like the fact that the prisoners don’t like the food, that American military women “stand too close to them,” and that they can hear the guards’ shoes squeaking at inopportune times.
Meanwhile, several of the individuals released from the facility because they were deemed to be among the least dangerous held there have subsequently turned up as fighters, kidnappers, and murderers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where would the critics so anxious to close down Guantanamo send the 500 killers and terror masters currently housed there? Could we suggest Santa Monica? Or Nantucket? Or a Berlin youth hostel?

As the Wall Street Journal noted the day after July’s London bombings, the West’s “resolve continues to fade along with public memories of 9/11. For months the debate in Washington hasn’t been over how best to fight terrorists but how harshly we treat them. Rather than strengthen the Patriot Act, Congress wants to weaken it…. The press corps has wallowed in Abu Ghraib as the defining event of the entire Iraq War.”

Would you believe that the number of formal U.S. investigations of how terror detainees are being treated recently reached 189? What mad self-doubt and softness! Of course we need to weed out cruel or out-of-control guards, but the clear picture of the many commissions and blue-ribbon investigations is that our detainment system is pretty tight and self-regulating, that gentleness to the point of political correctness is the norm, and that rogue actions are nearly always found out and punished, usually quite severely.

Our fastidiousness in handling dangerous terrorists has reached the point of self-flagellation, and now seriously impairs our war-fighting and intelligence-gathering capabilities. In Iraq, for instance, the terrorists now know that U.S. soldiers cannot interrogate them with any intensity, and that if they keep their mouths shut our own rules require that they must be released within three days.
That’s why I saw Iraqis this spring specifically request that their relatives involved in the insurgency be arrested by U.S. soldiers rather than Iraqi troops (who have less dainty ideas about detainment and interrogation).

And however unrealistically we have hamstrung ourselves on foreign battlefields, our prissiness about police profiling and other practices anathematized by civil libertarians—magnified by our lack of courage on border control—has been even more damaging back here in the homeland, according to journalist Michelle Malkin (see pages 14-17).
Should enemies enter our country illegally through one of our many porous borders, avail themselves of today’s flood of fraudulent identity documents to get themselves into some critical location, exploit our refusal to allow sensible surveillance measures, background checks, and ethnic profiling, and thereby pull off a major stateside attack, we will sorely regret our lack of clarity and toughness.

Progress versus failures

It’s interesting to look back at earlier issues of TAE to see what our experts were recommending at the very launch of the war on terror, and compare that to what we’ve actually carried out. (Go to for the full content of any of our installments out six months or longer.)
Our very first issue after the attacks included a story entitled “How—and Why—We Must Tighten America’s Borders” (December 2001). Alas, scandalously little has been accomplished in this area in the four years since.

On the other hand, that same magazine included an article arguing that occasionally the most humane way to eradicate terror is to use commandos to pre-emptively assassinate dangerous killers. No, the 1970s-era obstacles which make it difficult for American Presidents to order such a course still haven’t been lifted.
The U.S. has, however, quietly acquiesced to exactly such a policy carried out by Israel—whose preventative attacks killing terrorists from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups before they could strike have saved many lives, and chastened some terrorists into more accommodating behavior.

The TAE issue on homeland defense that we put together as the new cabinet department was being planned within the U.S. government (January/February 2003) points to some other disappointments. In that installment, Scott Johnson and David Harris made powerful arguments for letting police use ethnic profiling as an important security tool.
Opposing elements in our legal establishment show no signs of paying attention. In a companion piece, Alan Dowd warned that if we let lawyers and international litigators interfere too much in the war on terror, we will become completely paralyzed. A prescient warning that our politicians are increasingly ignoring.

A couple of other articles in that same installment of The American Enterprise point to two genuine political tragedies from the last four years. Former Democratic Congressman Stephen Solarz argued in our pages that Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, and other historic Democrats would have supported war against Iraq, and that modern Democrats ought to as well.
Instead, Solarz’s party has swerved dangerously since 9/11 toward a kneejerk anti-war stance. Even more appalling is the sight of Europeans trying to get Oriana Fallaci—the Italian journalist who was a pioneer in warning about the dangers of radical Islam (in our J/F03 issue and elsewhere)—thrown in jail for lacking tolerance. A judge in northern Italy has ordered her to stand trial for “defaming Islam.”

Reprinted nearby are excerpts from the first TAE to appear after the September 11 attacks. The extracts focus on two issues that will be central in determining whether we eventually win the war on terror, or spend the rest of our lives cowering behind blast barriers and metal detectors:
Does the American public and political leadership have the stomach to endure a long struggle against Muslim extremists?
And will responsible Muslims help, or hide?
After four momentous years, those are both still open questions.

Karl Zinsmeister is TAE’s editor in chief.

Can You Take a Pounding?

From our pages four years ago:

Extended periods of militarism are psychologically unhealthy and poisonous to societal freedoms. War hardens hearts, eats the economy, and cramps political liberty. But the fact is, sometimes wars are necessary, and we must never lose our capacity and willingness to fight them sharply when the occasion calls.
There are times when even a gentle people must be fierce. There are moments when the police need to kick in doors and crack heads. There are seasons when our soldiers and covert agents have to plunge bayonets into cruel enemies who won’t relent.

Every strong society—ours included—needs hard, reckless men willing to rush into burning buildings, to risk death fistfighting with hijackers, to launch almighty firestorms of devastation against recalcitrant foes who dared to strike their homeland. Historically, Americans have never had trouble finding the mettle for such tasks. Our frontier was not settled by nervous nellies with degrees in Peace Studies.

But Osama bin Laden and millions of other foreigners now doubt that America still produces such men. They see us as overfed, utterly unheroic materialists. In his 1996 declaration of war on the U.S. bin Laden states, “Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youths to wait for their turn in fighting. Members of the American Army are too cowardly and too fearful to meet the young people of Islam face to face.”

Bin Laden is wrong in the worst way about rank-and-file American fighting men. But not only America’s soldiers will need to be brave and determined as we fight this war against terror. Our political decision makers and—most of all—our public at large will need to hang very tough. “The citizen is more than 50 percent of our success,” the head of the Jerusalem bomb squad told us when TAE asked him how his country resists suicide bombers. The most important defensive weapon in a terror war is a bold and dauntless population.

There is no doubt that today’s America brims with education, refinement, and sophisticated talent of all sorts. Now we’ll find out if our society has also retained some older American virtues—like fearlessness and tenacity. We will need those qualities to see the current battle through to its necessary end.
I myself have no doubt the carpenters and business owners and deer hunters in the massive middle of our society will hold up in this regard. Our elites are more of a question mark. How much pounding can our news anchors and computer yuppies and professors and high-income soccer moms stand?

Excerpted from “Test of a Lifetime” by Karl Zinsmeister, The American Enterprise, December 2001.

Will Responsible Muslims Step Up?
From our pages four years ago:

Let’s recognize that we’re in a full-blown war. That (contrary to mealy-mouthed platitudes) this is indeed a war against a considerable part of Islam. And that the September 11 attacks were only the final straw in an ugly sequence that goes back 22 years to the 444-day imprisonment of the U.S. embassy staff in Tehran at the hands of Muslim militants. Long before September 11 we ought to have said enough is enough.

Hatred of America is widespread in Islamic countries. There is tremendous resentment of our economic success, military might, and cultural dominance. And there is something within Islam that makes it very easy to incubate resentment into terror.

“Among Western elites,” Owen Harries has noted, “there is the assumption that conflict between peoples is the result of misunderstanding and ignorance.” In the case of Islam, this could hardly be more wrong. Islamic terrorists actually understand us rather well; many of the most dangerous ones have lived in the West for extended periods, been educated by our schools, and even married our women.
This makes them not one bit less murderous. As author Stuart Taylor writes, “They do not hate us for our flaws. They hate us for our virtues.” They hate us because we are the massive, shining alternative to Islam.

“What America needs from the Islamic world is for Muslims themselves—from the smallest mosques in New York City to the largest in Mecca—to read the fundamentalists out of Islam,” urges terrorism expert Michael Radu. Scholar David Wurmser agrees: “It is not America’s choice to decide how much of Islam it is in conflict with, or to adjudicate which branch of Islam is more ‘authentic.’ That choice belongs to Muslims.”

Followers of Islam must sort themselves into responsible and irresponsible camps. Then America must react to the choices made in the Muslim world. Clearly any Muslim who selects the bin Laden/Khomeini path has made himself our “enemy for life, as well as an enemy of life,” to quote Christopher Hitchens. That should have strong consequences.

Excerpted from “Test of a Lifetime” by Karl Zinsmeister, The American Enterprise, December 2001

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: karlzinsmeister; waronterror; wot; wwiv; zinsmeister
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1 posted on 08/03/2005 7:24:32 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin

You are correct, must read bump!

2 posted on 08/03/2005 7:41:08 AM PDT by wita (
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To: Valin

Political correctness kills.

3 posted on 08/03/2005 7:41:42 AM PDT by TASMANIANRED (Conservatives are from Earth. Liberals are from Uranus.(c))
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To: Valin


4 posted on 08/03/2005 7:48:28 AM PDT by Chuck54 (Confirm justice Roberts!)
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To: Valin
We have reached a stage where reflexive anti-Americanism is the only unifying principle of the American and global left. Ask someone protesting the war in Iraq what he's for and you'll probably get a blank stare. Oh he knows what he's against all right, any spread of American values around the world. But ask him for a positive alternative and he's dumbfounded. It's exactly the same with those who pay disproportionate attention to Israel despite far worse human-rights violations in that neighborhood, let alone globally. But Israel is an ally of America in an anti-American age, and that is the only reason the global left pays it any attention. So too with the anti-globalization movement, which (insanely) views globalization, despite its huge popularity among the Third Worlders about whom they are allegedly so concerned, as some sort of American corporate plot of Bavarian Illuminati dimensions. With the collapse of the Wall, anti-Americanism for its own sake is all the left has left.

Globalization and Getting Along.

5 posted on 08/03/2005 8:00:32 AM PDT by untenured (
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To: untenured

"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy."
John Updike

6 posted on 08/03/2005 8:04:39 AM PDT by Valin (The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.)
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To: Valin
Excellent article.

Political Correctness is going to be the death of this country if we don't reverse it in time.

7 posted on 08/03/2005 8:16:14 AM PDT by Gritty (Our fastidiousness in handling terrorists has reached the point of self-flagellation-K Zinsmeister)
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To: wita
"Lots of people seem to have forgotten that there are folks out here who want to kill Americans. Any American, they don’t care. These killers are enterprising, and fierce. And I don’t think lots of U.S. citizens realize what could happen if we don’t stand up to them.”

Most haven't forgotten they just refused to believe the truth. If president Bush or any in his administration attempts to remind people of this the left says they are using terrorism for political gain. Then when there is an attack, and there will be, then the president hasn't done enough.

Did ya'll see where many folks were calling on President Bush to resign after the London bombings? Because he hasn't done enough to keep people safe? What a bunch of morons.
8 posted on 08/03/2005 8:27:20 AM PDT by saleman
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To: Valin
I myself have no doubt the carpenters and business owners and deer hunters in the massive middle of our society will hold up in this regard. Our elites are more of a question mark.

Yes they are. America won't truly be at war until there is an attack on on 5th. Ave., NYC, Beverly Hills, CA, Grosse Point, MI or Knob Hill, CA.

9 posted on 08/03/2005 8:33:36 AM PDT by elbucko
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You are absolutely right.

Political correctness equals stupidity.
10 posted on 08/03/2005 8:35:19 AM PDT by OKIEDOC (LL THE)
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To: Valin

not quite succinct enough to be called "moral clarity" but the auther still nails it.

11 posted on 08/03/2005 10:26:48 AM PDT by King Prout (and the Clinton Legacy continues: like Herpes, it is a gift that keeps on giving.)
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To: Tolik

not quite succinct enough to be called "moral clarity" but the auther still nails it.

12 posted on 08/03/2005 10:27:01 AM PDT by King Prout (and the Clinton Legacy continues: like Herpes, it is a gift that keeps on giving.)
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To: Valin
The French editor who proclaimed “We Are All Americans” in a September 12, 2001 banner headline was backpedalling within days, and now whines about whether the prisoners’ mattresses are too thin at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Mayhap we should investigate treatment of prisoners in North Africa at French behest.

13 posted on 08/03/2005 11:03:26 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are truly evil.)
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To: King Prout

Thank you. Incoming.

14 posted on 08/03/2005 11:25:12 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Valin; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; yonif; SJackson; dennisw; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...

Nailed It!

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about).
Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  (I stopped keeping separate ping lists for David Warren and Lee Harris. I'll ping to their articles when warranted through this list. )

15 posted on 08/03/2005 11:26:34 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Valin

SO... what hes saying "IS"... America NEEDS another example of terrorism.. to get our minds right..

16 posted on 08/03/2005 11:38:42 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been ok'ed by me to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: Carry_Okie
I wonder if he reads his own country's great literature. "Le Etranger" by one Albert Camus would explain to him the hypocritical nature of his posturing far better than even John Bolton could with a head of steam.
17 posted on 08/03/2005 11:44:32 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Chawlie Schuwler; America's Most Useless Senator!)
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To: .cnI redruM

Hanson's articles should be required reading for everyone in Congress, the State Dept., and especially in the DNC! His warnings seemingly will be ignored even by W and the PC crowd will continue to whine about how America has caused terrorism, moral evil,greedy oil imperialism etc. It is sickening but seems to be still gaining credence unless the Pubs themselves and the alternative media keeps showing the truth as Hanson does.

18 posted on 08/03/2005 12:52:58 PM PDT by phillyfanatic
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To: Valin

Had the President promised or even predicted such things after September 11, most of us would have dismissed him as utterly unhinged.

Are you kidding. Had he promised that we would still be fighting in Iraq and Afganistan in 2005, while spending 1.5 billion every week, he would have been run out of town.

Now if he had, on September 11, given Iran 96 hours to evacuate its capital, then Nuked it. The entire muslim world would have shut down the terrorists by themselves because they would have known that they were next on the delete country list.

Either that or there would have been no muslim world within 6 weeks.

But instead he decided to follow the tried and true method of Vietnam's kinder gentler compassionate war fighting strategy, calling Islam a religion of peace .


19 posted on 08/03/2005 1:03:56 PM PDT by TomasUSMC (FIGHT LIKE WW2, FINISH LIKE WW2. FIGHT LIKE NAM, FINISH LIKE NAM.)
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To: Valin

Excellent read! Many thanks for posting.

20 posted on 08/03/2005 1:07:08 PM PDT by Hat-Trick (Do you trust a government that cannot trust you with guns?)
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