When the United States first bombed Iraq last week, initiating a self-defensive campaign against Saddam Hussein, I cried a tear of joy.
When the US first bombed the Taliban in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, my joy wasn’t as great. Given that the barbarians immediately responsible for those attacks were operating from that nation, the question for me wasn’t if President Bush would counterattack, but when.
But even after 9/11, the question of whether Bush might take out other anti-American terrorist states seething to destroy us became more a question of “if” than “when.” I had my doubts, since our leaders left virtually unscathed these regimes that, either directly or indirectly, terrorized Americans for over 20 years.
While evidence exists that Iraq contributed to both the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Hussein is nevertheless a rabidly anti-American dictator who possesses chemical and biological weapons he can give to terrorists to unleash here. Hussein’s regime is clearly a threat that Bush must destroy.
Still, the Bush administration felt the need to go through the predictably drawn-out charade of scrambling for permission from the UN to use force against him. This meant irrelevant nations (Cameroon), dictatorships (China), and terrorist states (Syria) could vote on how the US conducts its foreign policy. As the administration’s delays stretched out over several months and more UN resolutions, I feared Bush might never use force against Iraq.
Other than eliminating the Taliban from power and capturing or killing some al Qaeda terrorists, what assurance had I that Bush was serious about a war on terrorism? After vowing to end states that sponsor terrorists and announcing an axis of evil hit list, Bush nonetheless sought to negotiate with (i.e., appease) Iraq, Iran and North Korea, shunned from his coalition a free nation that suffers the most terrorism, Israel, and called for a Palestinian state, which effectively means creating another terrorist state.
For two decades prior to Bush’s presidency, I watched our leaders do nothing substantial in response to the many terrorist acts perpetrated against Americans, which include 52 hostages taken in Tehran in 1979, the Iranian-backed car bombing of a US barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Marines in 1983, the bombing of the World Trade Center that was masterminded by a suspected Iraqi intelligence agent in 1993, and al Qaeda’s destruction of the USS Cole in Yemen that slaughtered 17 sailors in 2000. At most, Ronald Reagan initiated mere pin-prick bombings in Tripoli in 1986 after a Libyan terrorists bombed a Berlin disco that killed two US servicemen, and Bill Clinton lobed a few cruise missiles at suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 after Bin Laden leveled two US embassies in Africa that killed over a dozen Americans. The climax, to date, of our leaders’ decades-long appeasement and minor to useless military strikes against terrorist states is the murder of 3,000 innocents on Sept. 11.
The single tear I shed at those first bombs dropped on Baghdad derived from the mere flashlight of courage and resolve Bush has exhibited within this dark, seemingly endless void of cowardice and non-action that embodies America’s post-World War II foreign policy. Despite that Bush himself has appeased our enemies, including Saudi Arabia, the terrorist state that produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, he has asserted in word and action America’s sovereign right to defend itself against our would-be destroyers. While he fails to name our basic enemy, militant Muslim fundamentalists, instead hailing Islam as “a religion of peace,” Bush has at least suggested a long-term plan by naming an axis of terrorist states America must finally confront.
But after Bush triumphs in Iraq, will he sustain this resolve by at least destroying the nuclear facilities in Iran and North Korea, and ultimately ending these evil regimes bent on annihilating all Americans? Will he continue his self-assertiveness by acting without seeking permission from a thoroughly corrupt, anti-American UN?
Given Bush’s pragmatic tendencies, which lead him to believe one can negotiate peace with such regimes and to seek the support of our other would-be destroyers, such as Pakistan, I can’t have much confidence in him. Nonetheless, I will continue to applaud how he ultimately acted on America’s moral right to destroy Hussein’s regime, and I will remind his administration that it must view the Iraqi campaign as one step in our military march to prevent further attacks on our nation. Appealing to our leaders’ assertion of America’s rational self-interest is our only chance for survival.