Victor Davis Hanson is a professor of classical history in Fresno, California, and a columnist for National Review. Now that I've read his military history text, Carnage and Culture, VDH has become one of my favorite authors. Here are the best quotes from his 2003 and 2004 columns, generously provided by John Hawkins, the blogger for Right Wing News.
"Sadly, prosperous Westerners never seem to learn of the folly of honoring appeasement and naivetÚ - the awarding of Nobel Peace Prizes to the likes of a Le Duc Tho and Yasser Arafat, as if global praise might make them statesmen rather than murderers, to a Kim Dae Jung as if his demonstrable kindness would pacify rather than embolden North Korea, or to ex-President Carter as if his well-meaning parleys with tyrants could bring peace. As chief executive emeritus, his saintliness now plays well; but we forget in the rough and tumble of his presidency that Mr. Carter's brag that he had no "inordinate fear of Communism" was followed by the brutal Russian invasion of Afghanistan, that sending Ramsey Clark to apologize to the Iranians did not win the release of the American hostages in 1980, and that U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young's praise of Cuban troops in Africa and his clenched-fist, black-power salutes to African leaders did not stop Communist intervention and bloodletting abroad."
"(I)t is necessary in a free society to audit and question the government. But such self-critique does not mean that we must apply an unreal standard of judgment against the United States that is as one-sided as it is unfair. Let us retain our sense of balance and history. We must be vigilant about our civil liberties, but it is only because we have acted both lawfully and promptly to detain terrorist killers on our shores that so far we have avoided a repeat of September 11. That we have saved American lives and preserved our constitutional freedoms is the real story of our domestic-security efforts. We must worry about collateral damage in war and will always strive to prevent civilian deaths, but should keep in mind that the United States seeks to protect the innocent, while al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein murder thousands of civilians indiscriminately. Indeed, they seek to kill from the sanctuaries of hospitals, mosques, and schools precisely because they know - sometimes more so that our own critics - that we will not strike the homes of their own innocents, however cynically they are used. America's burden is not just to fight to save Americans from Saddam Hussein, but to do so in such a way as to save his own people from him as well. That it is our duty to take up these moral responsibilities should not blind us to the fact that others do not."
"They should note instead that in the aftermath of major wars, the world is rarely put back together quite the same. When Rome entered the Punic Wars it was an agrarian republic; it finished as an imperial Mediterranean power. Waterloo reordered Europe for a century, and the defeat of Germany and Japan ushered in the 50-year long protocols of the Cold War, in which enemies became friends and friends then enemies. Who could sort out the shifting Sparta-Athens-Thebes relationships following the Peloponnesian War? It is not just that winners dictate and losers comply, but that even among allies, war and its aftermath often tear away the thin scabs of unity and expose long-festering wounds of real cultural, political, historical, and geographical difference. So it is with this present war against the terrorists and their sponsors, which when it is finally over will leave our world a very different place."
"The U.N. beats up on the United States because it accepts that - unlike China or Syria - we are predictable, honorable, and committed to acting morally. Thus it finds psychic reassurance and a sense of puffed-up self-importance - on the cheap - by remonstrating with an America that wishes to stop a criminal regime from spreading havoc, rather than worrying about the demise of millions of Tibetans, Syria's brutal creation of the puppet state of Lebanon, or Africans who complain that France has, without consultation, determined their fate. It is always better for a debating society to lecture those who listen than those who do not."
"Taking on all at once Germany, Japan, and Italy - diverse enemies all - did not require the weeding out of all the fascists and their supporters in Mexico, Argentina, Eastern Europe, and the Arab world. Instead, those in jackboots and armbands worldwide quietly stowed all their emblems away as organized fascism died on the vine once the roots were torn out in Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo. So too will the terrorists, once their sanctuaries and capital shrivel up - as is happening as we speak."
"The American people are not naifs who yearn for isolationism, but they are starting to ask some hard questions about the way we have been doing business for 50 years, and it may well be time to grant the French, Canadians, Germans, Turks, South Koreans, and a host of others their wishes for independence from us: polite friendship - but no alliances, no bases, no money, no trade concessions, and no more begging for the privilege of protecting them."
"It is the singular achievement of the present Canadian government to turn a country - whose armed forces once stormed an entire beach at Normandy and fielded one of the most heroic armies in wars for freedom - into a bastion of anti-Americanism without a military."
"The United States military is now evolving geometrically as it gains experience from near-constant fighting and grafts new technology daily. Indeed, it seems to be doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling its lethality every few years. And the result is that we are outdistancing not merely the capabilities of our enemies but our allies as well - many of whom who have not fought in decades - at such a dizzying pace that our sheer destructive power makes it hard to work with others in joint operations."
"True, most of the Arab street may curse infidels in Baghdad, but a sizable minority will acknowledge the freedom there and ask, "If there, why not here?" Or: "Don't our own kleptocrats have lavish, glittery palaces of extortion just like Saddam did?" Nothing has been more pathetic in the last few days than listening to in-house Arab "intellectuals" damning the United States, ridiculing the "liberation" of Iraq, and railing at the old bogeyman of "colonialism" - even as they watch demonstrations and a freedom in Baghdad impossible in their own police states. What a burden they must carry: supporting the old Arab nationalist status quo ensures the continual absence of their own independence."
"Our troubles with Europe are said to arise from differing views of the world order and an imbalance in military power. Yet these new tensions cannot truly be understood without the appreciation that there are no longer 300 Soviet divisions poised to plow through West Germany. With such a common threat, natural differences between Europe and the United States - from the positioning of Pershing tactical missiles on German soil to prevent Soviet nuclear intimidation, to continental criticism of the American role in Vietnam and Central America - always were aired within certain understood and relatively polite parameters of common history and interests."
"I wish I could attribute the absence of any conventional Arab offensive in the last 20 years to a change of political climate or a willingness to abide by past accords. But unfortunately it is more likely that the Egyptians or Syrians concluded that the next time their tanks headed to Tel Aviv, there was nothing stopping the counterassaults from ending up in downtown Cairo or Damascus."
"In Iraq #1 we stayed within U.N. mandates, limited our response, went home after Kuwait was freed - and were censured for allowing Shiites and Kurds to be butchered and not going to Baghdad when the road was open and the dictator tottering. In Iraq #2 we removed the tyrant at less cost than the liberation of Kuwait during the earlier war, stayed on to ensure freedom and fair representation for various groups - and are being castigated for either using too little force to ensure needed order or too much power that stifles indigenous aspirations and turns popular opinion against us."
"In Afghanistan #1 we once kept our distance, armed the locals to fight Russian expansionist Communism on their own, left when the common enemy was defeated, accepted noninterference in Afghan affairs - and were blamed as cynical Cold War realists when the inevitable chaos followed. In Afghanistan #2, we defeated an equally odious force, stayed on to promote consensual government, attempted to provide aid - and are now being blamed as either cynical imperialists who lust after some mythical pipeline or na´ve Pollyannas who are squandering blood and treasure to change people who cannot be changed."
"A country that cannot count its own illegal aliens - estimates range from 8-12 million - with a porous 2,000 mile border is not secure despite twelve carrier battle groups. We must accept that it is a cornerstone of Mexican foreign policy to export illegally each year a million of its own to the United States to avoid needed reform at home and to influence American domestic policy."
"Any time the Western way of war can be unleashed on an enemy stupid enough to enter its arena, victory is assured. And the antidote? Remember the Highway of Death or the insane evocation of "Dresden" on the first night of the three-week war. The way to combat the West is to appeal to either its generosity of spirit or its guilt in hopes that it will call itself off, and thus hand to terrorists and dictators a stalemate that will soon be seen as a victory of sorts, stolen from the jaws of assured defeat."
"This bloody past suggests to us that enemies cease hostilities only when they are battered enough to acknowledge that there is no hope in victory - and thus that further resistance means only useless sacrifice."
"The problem with deterrence - apparently sometimes forgotten by our former presidents - is that it is not static, but a creature of the moment, captive to impression, and nursed on action, not talk. It must be maintained hourly and can erode or be lost with a single act of failed nerve, despite all the braggadocio of threatened measures. And, once gone, the remedies needed for its restoration are always more expensive, deadly - and controversial - than would have been its simple maintenance."
"The fact is that we have been consistent in a predictable 60-year commitment to national security, while our friends and former enemies - by intent or default - have followed different paths since 1989. We stayed mostly the same as they became hypopowers that, to take a small example, would and could do nothing should a madman in Korea wish to kill millions."
"Western societies from ancient Athens to imperial Rome to the French republic rarely collapsed because of a shortage of resources or because foreign enemies proved too numerous or formidable in arms - even when those enemies were grim Macedonians or Germans. Rather, in times of peace and prosperity there arose an unreal view of the world beyond their borders, one that was the product of insularity brought about by success, and an intellectual arrogance that for some can be the unfortunate byproduct of an enlightened society."
"Had Mr. Atta and his fellow killers been arrested on probable cause, their Islamic haunts raided, and assorted charities and fundraisers shut down on September 10, 2001 - cries of racism, profiling, and McCarthyism would have drowned out the purportedly farfetched excuses that such preemptory FBI raids had in fact saved thousands in Manhattan."
"The old notion that prosperous, friendly Western countries do not need our assistance, while fickle non-Western states deserve blackmail aid, is passÚ - and, of course, has no public support."
"What is an ally? Were NATO brothers like France and Germany allies - whose U.N. performances made China's seem friendly? Is Greece an ally - whose mass anti-American demonstrations were larger than those in Cairo or Damascus? Perhaps it's Mexico, which opposed our efforts in Iraq and exports 1-2 million of its own people illegally across the border as a means to prevent much-needed radical reform at home. In this context, the current meaning of "ally" too often reads as a state benefiting from American friendship that in turn expresses its thanks by gratuitous expressions of hostility in times of crisis."
"(T)he American people must habitually be reminded of our ultimate aims. Militarily we must reestablish both the ability and willingness to punish immediately any cadre or state that kills or plans to kill Americans. Politically we seek, both by arms and diplomacy, to end the present pathology in the Middle East where autocratic governments create venomous hatred toward the United States among their starving and frenzied to deflect their own catastrophic failures onto us. Morally we are trying to convey the message that the United States is a proven and reliable friend of international commerce, a guarantor of freedom of the seas and skies, a protector of nations that support consensual government and human rights - and a terrible and totally unpredictable enemy of any one or state that seeks to kill Americans or their friends or to threaten the norms of civilization itself."
"Did either the nonexistent or the measured response after a series of attacks on Americans the past decade - in Lebanon, Africa, Saudi Arabia, New York, and Yemen - suggest to our terrorist enemies that it was wrong and unwise to kill reasonable and affable people, or did the easy killing imply that self-absorbed and pampered Lotus-eaters would not much care who or how many were butchered as long as it was within reasonable numbers and spread out over time?" -- Victor Davis Hanson
"Once the world sobers up and the frenzy subsides, nations will still want someone to be worried about Iran and North Korea. The Bekaa Valley will not disappear. China will still scare its neighbors. Japan will still look to the United States military. The NATO partners won't wish us to leave; Russians will remember that we will never attack them, but always find a way to forgive them for almost everything they do. Egyptians and Jordanians will appreciate that they have slandered Americans and been paid in the process. And despite, or perhaps because of, past appeasement, Islamic terrorists will still hate the defenseless Europeans as much as they do the United States. Meanwhile the American public is tiring of them all - and that will be the real challenge for any president in the years ahead."
"To ask brave soldiers to go into the inferno of Afghanistan and Iraq and by virtue of their skill and courage, under the televised scrutiny of a global audience, end the rule of murderers was not easy. Nor was staying on to help the helpless. Yes, the truly frightening alternative was the blustering inaction that we have seen for the past 20 years that led to September 11 and the real quagmire in the Middle East."
"For all the criticism about warlords, it is now likely that Afghanistan will never again be turned over to al Qaeda to train thousands to conduct the type of murder we saw on September 11. For all real problems with ambushes and sabotage, there will be no more gassings, mass murdering, invading neighbors, sending guided missiles across borders or no-fly zones in Iraq, but rather the hard work of consensual government - a difficult process easily caricatured, but when completed universally admired."
"(I)t is likely that Saddam Hussein - on the lam for six months - will be found more quickly than the odious Radovan Karadzic or Ratko Mladic who, under very suspicious circumstances, are still in hiding inside Europe five years after their hideous regimes collapsed beneath American bombs."
"These Europeans like multilateral solutions not out of principle so much as because the tortuous process of implementing them creates the illusion that, in the meantime, nothing must be done. Hence, by the time the U.N. acts, most Bosnians or Rwandans or Kuwaitis are long gone, a sort of "talk, talk/die, die policy."
"(A) successful consensual government in Baghdad will serve as a glimpse of what life can be like amid the economic and political stagnation of the surrounding Arab world. More importantly, it will confront radical Islam with a competing ideology that possesses a far more revolutionary message than the Islamists' tired old culture of death that ruined Afghanistan and Iran, wrecked the economy of the West Bank, tore apart Algeria, ended the tourist industry of Egypt, brought international scorn on Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, turned the president of Malaysia into an international laughingstock, nearly made Pakistan an outlaw regime - and led to the reckoning after 9/11. Holdover Soviet-style Baathism didn't work; Islamic fascism was a failure; tribal dictatorship and monarchies are no better; Pan-Arabism was a cruel joke. The Arab world is running out of alternatives to democratic governments and free markets."
"States are like people. They do not question the awful status quo until some dramatic event overturns the conventional and lax way of thinking."
"In the future, the American military must accept that if it is asked to go to war under a Republican administration, its public-relations problems will pose as much a dilemma as the campaign itself - as the New York Times, National Public Radio, the campuses, the major networks, and the Europeans will almost immediately seek to oppose and caricature America's efforts. In contrast, in our contemporary therapeutic society that gives currency to lip-biting, publicly feeling pain, and professions of utopianism, Democrats can pretty much use the military as they wish - secure they will always be seen as sober and judiciously using force only as a 'last resort.'"
" It is rather the nature of America - our freewheeling, outspoken, prosperous, liberty-loving citizens extend equality to women, homosexuals, minorities, and almost anyone who comes to our shores, and thereby create desire and with it shame for that desire. Indeed, it is worse still than that: Precisely because we worry publicly that we are insensitive, our enemies scoff privately that we in fact are too sensitive - what we think is liberality and magnanimity they see as license and decadence. If we don't have confidence in who we are, why should they?"
"In all major wars there reaches a critical tipping point when the ultimate outcome of the conflict begins to become clear. Then the pulse of war really quickens, as allies, neutrals, and observers all scramble to adjust their allegiances to match the inevitable verdict to come on the battlefield. For all the scary ante bellum rhetoric about thousand-year Reichs and the defiant slogans of "We will bury you," no one wishes to lose, or even be associated with defeat."
"There may well be even more terrible things to come in Iraq than what we have seen already, but there will also be far better things than were there before. And there will come a time, when all those who slandered the efforts - the Germans, the French, the American radical Left, the vicious Michael "Minutemen" Moore, the pampered and coddled Hollywood elite, the Arab League, and the U.N. will assume that Iraq is a "good thing" like Afghanistan, and that democracy there really was preferable - after they had so bravely weighed in with their requisite "ifs" and "buts" - to the mass murders of Saddam Hussein. Yes, they will say all this, but it will be for the rest of us to remember how it all came about and what those forgotten soldiers and people of Iraq went through to get it - lest we forget, lest we forget...."
"Finally, on this Thanksgiving let us remember that, for all their snarls and snipes, the now-freed peoples of France, Germany, Japan, Eastern Europe, Korea, the Balkans, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, and Iraq owe a great deal to thousands of dead Americans, too often forgotten, who in awful places like the HŘrtgen Forest, Tarawa, Monte Casino, Chosun, Hue, Panama City, Mazar-e-Sharif - and Fallujah - battled and defeated Nazis, militarists, Fascists, Communists, and Dark-Age Islamists so that millions of others might have the freedom that the rest of us lesser folk too often take for granted as our birthright."
"Who would have believed 60 years ago that the great critics of democracy in the Middle East would now be American novelists and European utopians, while Indians, Poles, and Japanese were supporting those who just wanted the chance to vote? Who would have thought that a young Marine from the suburbs of Topeka battling the Dark Ages in Fallujah - the real humanist - was doing more to aid the planet than all the billions of the U.N.?"
"For all the European hysteria over the reelection of George Bush, I would wager that privately, leaders there are sighing with relief that a resolute U.S. is fighting the Islamists, taking the heat, and supplying them with both emotional and material cover at no cost. How can you buy off the Iranians to drop their bomb plans without fear by the mullahs that a cowboy George Bush is the dreaded alternative?"
"At its richest, most populous stage in its history, the United States, after reeling from a devastating blow to its financial and military nerve centers, in less than three years toppled the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, implemented elections in Afghanistan and scheduled them in Iraq, prevented another 9/11-like attack - and so far has tragically lost about 1,100 in combat in a war against a virulent fascism that is antithetical to every aspect of Western liberty. Our grandfathers would have considered all this a miraculous military achievement. We call it a quagmire, deride our leaders as liars and traitors, and often doubted that our Marines - the greatest street-fighting besiegers in the history of warfare, who stormed Manila, Seoul, Hue, and Panama City - could take Fallujah last April."
"Beheadings, suicide bombings, mass executions, and improvised explosive devices are not intended to destroy or even defeat the U.S. military. Rather, they are aimed at the taxpaying citizens back home who fuel it."
"The improvised explosive device is a metaphor for our time. The killers cannot even make the artillery shells or the timers that detonate the bombs, but like parasites they use Western or Western-designed weaponry to harvest Westerners. They cannot blow up enough Abrams tanks or even Humvees to alter the battlefield landscape. But what they can accomplish is to maim or kill a few hundred Westerners in hopes that our own media will magnify the trauma and savagery of their attack - and do so often enough to make 300 million of us become exhausted with the entire "mess." The message of Arabic television is that the Iraqis are supposed to blame us, not their brethren who are killing them, for the carnage. Not our power, but our will, is the target."
"Our parents were terrified that, should America resort to military force abroad, they would be nuked; we are even more scared that our lethality will earn us the parlor disdain of the French and Germans. The terrorists are assured that the Western press is obsessed with Abu Ghraib, but not at all with Saddam's necropolis or their own slaughter of innocents. They suspect that those who endured Omaha and Utah or scaled Suribachi are long sleeping in their graves, and that a few thousand creeps in Fallujah scare us more than a quarter million in the Bulge did our parents."
"...There is no secret way to pacify Iraq other than to kill the killers, humiliate their cause through defeat, and give the credit of the victory, along with material aid and the promise of autonomous freedom, to moderate Iraqis. Victory on the battlefield - not the mysterious diplomacy of "wise men," or German and French sanction, or Arab League support - alone will allow Iraq an opportunity for humane government."
"Everyone Michael Moore has ever endorsed has lost, and he should have been avoided like the kiss of political death he is. His supporters find him useful but only mildly amusing, while his detractors are vehement in their dislike and impart guilt by association to any who come within his toxic orbit. That his lecture fees, lifestyle, and gratuitous slurs are at odds with the old Democratic image of a Happy Warrior only accents the mistake of welcoming him into the fold."
"We can no more reason with the Islamic fascists than we could sympathize with the Nazis' demands over supposedly exploited Germans in Czechoslovakia or the problem of Tojo's Japan's not getting its timely scrap-metal shipments from Roosevelt's America. Their pouts and gripes are not intended to be adjudicated as much as to weaken the resolve of many in the United States who find the entire "war against terror" too big, or the wrong kind, of a nuisance."
"Yet leaving unilaterally from Iraq would be a tragic mistake. We have already done something like that before - many times. What rippled out afterwards was not pretty. American helicopters flying off the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975 gave us the climate for the Soviets in Afghanistan, Communists in Central America, and embassy hostage-taking in Tehran. Ignoring murders in Lebanon, New York, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, or lobbing an occasional cruise missile as tit-for-tat payback when terrorists harvested one too many expendable Americans abroad, ensured us September 11. In our loony world, losing credible deterrence (and we would) is an invitation for disaster - as bin Laden himself illustrated when he logically thought that the toppling of the World Trade Center would be followed by another Black Hawk Down American pullback."
"If we used to argue in the 1940s about whether millions of dollars in U.S. grain aid really did any good in feeding the starving of China and India, we can all agree now that American liberality in letting consumer goods in and jobs out has done more for the world's hungry millions than a century of American gift-giving."
"Hitler, like bin Laden and his epigones, was the problem, not us. The only difference is that our grandparents knew that and we don't."
"There is no legitimate complaint of the Arab world against the United States - any more than Hitler had a right to Czechoslovakia or the Japanese to Manchuria. Just because the Japanese whined that the cutting-off of U.S. petroleum forced them to bomb Pearl Harbor didn't make it true."
About this time 60 years ago, six weeks after the Normandy beach landings, Americans were dying in droves in France. We think of the 76-day Normandy campaign of summer and autumn 1944 as an astounding American success - and indeed it was, as Anglo-American forces cleared much of France of its Nazi occupiers in less than three months. But the outcome was not at all preordained, and more often was the stuff of great tragedy. Blunders were daily occurrences - resulting in 2,500 Allied casualties a day. In any average three-day period, more were killed, wounded, or missing than there have been in over a year in Iraq."
"The Arab League hates us not because we are going to lose or install strongmen if we prevail, but because they are terrified we will win and sponsor consensual governments of the type that would put such ossified functionaries with blood on their hands out to pasture."
"It was moving to commemorate the Normandy invasion on its 60th anniversary, but politely left unsaid amid the French-hosted celebrations was the real story of 1944 and 1945. We owe it to the dead, not just the living, to remember it with some integrity and honesty. Most of the Nazis' own European subjects did little to stop their mass murdering. There was no popular civilian uprising inside Germany or out. Most Germans were hostile to the onslaught of American armies in their country, preferring Hitler and the Nazis even by 1945 to so-called American liberators. When they did slur the Fuhrer it was because he brought them ruin, not the blood of millions on their hands. When they did stop fighting the Americans, it was because the thought of surrendering to the Russians was far worse. Most Frenchmen either refused to resolutely fight the Germans or passively collaborated. The idea of a broad resistance was mostly a postwar Gallic nationalist myth. Those who spearheaded a few attacks on German occupiers were more likely led by Communists than by allied sympathizers, and thus fought in hope more of an eventual Soviet victory over the Nazis than an American one."
"The only thing worse than the amoral use of force is the failure to act when it is the only right and moral thing to do. In short, I think our sole serious mistake in this war is that we have forgotten the lessons of history, the essence of human nature, and what constitutes real morality. Small armies, whether those of Caesar, Alexander, or Hernan CortÚs can defeat enormous enemies and hold vast amounts of territory - but only if they are used audaciously and establish the immediate reputation that they are lethal and dangerous to confront. Deterrence, not numbers, creates tranquility and the two are not always synonymous."
"What are the values for which hundreds of Americans have now fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq? They are not new or hard to fathom, nor are they the easily caricatured images of American popular culture. Rather they are the same principles for which Americans died at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and Pusan: the guarantee of free association and expression, the tolerance of different ideas, a respect for the rule of law, and the right to enjoy equality under the aegis of consensual government. So this is what we believe in and this is what we have made it our mission to preserve."
One does not have to go back to ancient Athens - in 507 or 403 B.C. - to grasp the depressing fact that most authoritarians do not surrender power voluntarily. There would be no democracy today in Japan, South Korea, Italy, or Germany without the Americans' defeat of fascists and Communists. Democracies in France and most of Western Europe were born from Anglo-American liberation; European resistance to German occupation was an utter failure. Panama, Granada, Serbia, and Afghanistan would have had no chance of a future without the intervention of American troops. All of Eastern Europe is free today only because of American deterrence and decades of military opposition to Communism. Very rarely in the modern age do democratic reforms emerge spontaneously and indigenously (ask the North Koreans, Cubans, or North Vietnamese). Tragically, positive change almost always appears after a war in which authoritarians lose or are discredited (Argentina or Greece), bow to economic or cultural coercion (South Africa), or are forced to hold elections (Nicaragua)."
"The Palestinians will, in fact, get their de facto state, though one that may be now cut off entirely from Israeli commerce and cultural intercourse. This is an apparently terrifying thought: Palestinian men can no longer blow up Jews on Monday, seek dialysis from them on Tuesday, get an Israeli paycheck on Wednesday, demonstrate to CNN cameras about the injustice of it all on Thursday - and then go back to tunneling under Gaza and three-hour, all-male, conspiracy-mongering sessions in coffee-houses on Friday. Beware of getting what you bomb for."
"Appeasement of (Islamic) fundamentalists is not appreciated as magnanimity, but ridiculed as weakness - and, in fact, encourages further killing."
"If there is any similarity between Vietnam and the current war, it is not 1963, when his late brother convinced us to commit troops to stop Communist aggression. A better year for comparison is 1974, when Kennedy and other senators began to cut off funding for air support promised to enforce the Paris peace accords, resulting in the collapse of South Vietnam, mass murder in Southeast Asia, and over a million boat people, with more still sent to the Communist reeducation camps."
"If (Europe) spends about a fourth as much on defense as the United States, such relative budgetary comparisons are still a misleading barometer of European military weakness. The United States Marine Corps is larger than any single continental European army. One of America's twelve carrier groups is far more potent than all of Europe's naval forces combined. When we examine comparative research and development, field experience, recent combat history, army organization, and public attitude, the military gap only widens."
"The fact is, beneath the hype, Iraqis will soon appreciate American help and idealism far more than French perfidy. It is never wrong to be on the side of freedom - never."
"Sorry, a few thousand troops in Afghanistan doesn't cut it from a continent with a larger population than that of the United States, which in turn does the dirty work to ensure Europe's security. Unilateral, multilateral, U.N., no U.N., Balkans, Iraq - it doesn't matter: The Europeans are never going to risk lives and treasure for much of anything. The predictable NATO rule: The stationing of troops is to be determined in direct proportion to the absence of both need and danger."
"The United States is waking up from a serious malady. Once upon a time state-supported terrorism was seen as a criminal problem, not war, requiring yellow police tape, not GPS bombs. Afghanistan was turned into an anti-American terrorist base. Saddam Hussein required never-ending patrols to "box" him in. Osama bin Laden was too "hot" to be apprehended when offered up by potential captors. Pakistan and North Korea went nuclear - the greatest failure of many of the Clinton administration. Iran and Libya bought arsenals with impunity. Yasser Arafat systematically destroyed twenty years of economic progress on the West Bank and violated every accord he signed. Anti-Americanism grew in Europe without rejoinder or consequences. Saudi Arabia expected protection while our own female soldiers on patrol there hid their faces and arms - and promised not to drive. Terrorist funds flowed freely throughout the globe, as anti-Semitism and Islamicist-inspired hatred of Israel became the new pillar of trendy left-wing thought. All that has at least been recognized, checked, and is well on the way to being stopped."
"Despite the current vogue of questionable and therapeutic ideas like "zero tolerance" and "moral equivalence" that punish all who use force - whether in kindergarten or in the Middle East - striking first is a morally neutral concept. It takes on its ethical character from the landscape in which it takes place - the Israelis bombing the Iraqi reactor to avoid being blackmailed by a soon-to-be nuclear Saddam Hussein, or the French going into the Ivory Coast last year, despite the fact that that chaotic country posed no immediate danger to Paris. The thing to keep in mind is that the real aggressor, by his past acts, has already invited war and will do so again - should he be allowed to choose his own time and place of assault."
"We were fooled by Japan in 1941 and had no idea that its enormous fleet was a few hundred miles off Hawaii. The Soviet absorption of Eastern Europe caught utopians off guard in 1945-6. Everyone underestimated Mao's resilience ("Who lost China?"). MacArthur's "infiltrators" across the Yalu River turned out to be several Chinese armies. We know only now that the Soviets cheated on several major arms agreements - and had WMD arsenals far beyond what was disclosed. Its nuclear accidents and WMD catastrophes are still clouded in mysteries. Remember the Missile Gap of the 1960 election that helped to elect John Kennedy? Yet Cuba, we now learn, had more ready nukes than even Curtis LeMay imagined. The British surely had no warning about the Falklands invasion. An American ambassador gave the wrong message to Saddam Hussein in summer 1990, precisely because the CIA had no clue that Saddam Hussein was gearing up to invade Kuwait. Libya and Iran were further along with their nuclear programs than the CIA dared to imagine. Ditto North Korea. Who knew that Pakistan has been running a nuclear clearinghouse? The point is not to excuse faulty intelligence, but rather to understand that knowing exactly what the enemy is up to is difficult and yet almost never acknowledged to be so."
"Apart from the model of our forefathers who crushed and then lifted up the Germans and Japanese, we could find no better guide in this war than William Tecumseh Sherman and Abraham Lincoln - in that order. The former would remind us that our enemies traffic in pride and thus first must be disabused of it through defeat and humiliation. The latter (who turned Sherman and Grant loose) would maintain that we are a forgiving sort, who prefer restored rather than beaten people as our friends."
"Thirty years ago, during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, most of the Europeans of the NATO alliance refused over-flight rights to the United States. We had only hours in which to aid Israel from a multifaceted surprise attack and were desperately ferrying tons of supplies to save it from literal extinction. In contrast, many of these same allies allowed the Soviet Union - the supposed common enemy from which thousands of Americans were based in Europe to protect Europeans - to fly over NATO airspace to ensure the Syrians sufficient material to launch and sustain their surprise attack on the Golan. American "unilateralism" in those days meant acting alone not to let Israel perish. Had we gone "multilateral" and listened to our NATO allies - Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey all prohibited American planes from flying supplies in their space in transit to Tel-Aviv - there would be no Israel today at all."
"Instead, the elite Westerner talks about "occupied lands" from which Israel has been attacked four times in the last 60 years - in a manner that Germans do not talk about an occupied West they coughed up to France or an occupied East annexed by Poland. Russia lectures about Jenin, but rarely its grab of Japanese islands. Turkey is worried about the West Bank, but not its swallowing much of Cyprus. China weighs in about Palestinian sovereignty but not the entire culture of Tibet; some British aristocrats bemoan Sharon's supposed land grab, but not Gibraltar. All these foreign territories that were acquired through blood and iron and held on to by reasons of "national security" are somehow different matters when Jews are not involved."
"There are plenty of third-world revolutionaries today, but very few who wave the hammer and sickle. Again, it is not that mankind ceased being na´ve or duped, and woke up to the absurdities of Marxism and the mass murder that typically followed its implementation. Rather, very few wished to be associated with a losing ideology that offered no arms, patrons, or money - but a lot of misery, humiliation, and ridicule. This war against the Islamofascists and autocrats of the Middle East is no different."
"The Arab street knows full well that we give billions to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians - and are probably baffled that we don't cut it out. They also know we have just as frequently fought Christians on their behalf as Muslims; they know - if their voting feet tell them anything - that no place is more tolerant of their religion or more open to immigration than the United States. Yes, (Radical) Islamists all know that opening a mosque in Detroit is one thing, and opening a church in Saudi Arabia is quite another. Hitler wasn't interested in Wilson's 14 Points or how nicely Germans lived in the U.S. - he cared only that we "cowboys" would not or could not stop what he was up to."