“What are we fighting for?” It seems like it ought to be a simple question. We knew the answer on September 11: we are fighting for our lives against those who seek our destruction. Yet we still feel that we must discuss the issue, that there is some aspect of it that we have not yet answered. We are right.
Our confusion is not about our basic values: we are clear that America is great and that our totalitarian enemies are evil. But every day we must decide what those values mean for tough foreign policy decisions. For instance: The North Koreans say they are willing to “talk.” Should we refuse this seemingly reasonable offer, and instead, bomb the nuclear plant in Pyongyang? Iran remains, year after year, the number one state sponsor of terrorism. Should we work to overthrow that regime, risking the censure of the international community? Or, should we do nothing and hope the problem solves itself?
These issues and countless more like them require a daily moral battle. We fight this battle with radical pacifists, anti-American professors, Leftist media, and appeasing Europeans–but most importantly, we fight with our own consciences. We as Americans have a tremendous benevolence for the human race, and a keen sense of the responsibility of being the world’s sole superpower. Our consciences cause us to constantly second-guess ourselves. We must be confident that when we use our military might, we are doing the right thing.
Moral clarity means being able to answer the hard questions–to reaffirm our commitment to winning the war–day after day, issue after issue, battle after battle.
Today, we lack moral clarity, and we can see the consequences in our own actions. At the start of the North Korea crisis, we said that we would not engage in negotiations or appeasement. Yet we have now offered North Korea negotiations, economic aid, and security guarantees.
We have said that “we will not wait on events, while dangers gather.” Yet we continue to ignore Iran, the source of modern terrorism. In short, we are betraying the principles of the Bush Doctrine.
The result is that, well over a year after September 11, we are still not safe–not from terrorism, and not from dictators wielding nuclear weapons. Our lack of moral clarity is keeping us from winning the war.
What is required to answer the hard questions and to quell our consciences is clear thinking. If we wonder whether to negotiate with Communist North Korea, moral clarity tells us that persuasion is appropriate only if a nation is open to reason–and that brutal, fanatical dictatorships are not. If we doubt our justification for overthrowing the Iranian theocracy, moral clarity tells us that the decision now facing our nation is not whether to go to war, but how quickly to end the war which was started long ago–and not by us–and that our only option is to fight back or to allow ourselves to be slowly bled to death.
Moral clarity cannot be contained in a single statement, nor can it be achieved in a single stroke. It is a constant vigil which we must keep over ourselves and our policy decisions. We have not had enough moral clarity so far. We must find it, to win.