The Bush Corollary
Tomorrow night's State of the Union address will apparently focus on energy policy. That's fine... it's an important issue. I just don't think it's the most important issue facing the country today, and I hope the President will focus a lot of attention on how we plan to prosecute the Global War on Terror. While I know that he won't be able, for political and diplomatic reasons, to speak about certain things, here's what I'd like to see him say about the war:
Tonight, the State of our Union is "divided". Divided between "left" and "right", "limited government" and "big government", or "security" and "privacy". In my opinion, though, the most important divide is between those who believe that we are in the middle of a war, and those who believe we aren't.
There are those who say that "you can't fight a war against a tactic" -- that we should treat it as a "law enforcement" problem. I disagree. This is a war not against a tactic, but against a group of people who continue to seek unrelenting war against the West and all we stand for. As long as one side believes that a war exists, then it does, and no amount of wishing that people wouldn't attack us if we would just be nice to them will change the realities of today's world.
We've made mistakes in the war to date. We failed to understand the Arab mindset when we went into Iraq, and assumed that they would know that we sought only to help them establish a demcracy. We've learned our lessons from that, and the next time we have to fight an Islamic nation -- and we will -- we'll be better prepared to deal with the unknowns. Just as we didn't give up fighting the Japanese in WWII after the tactics we used at Tarawa were found to need improvement, we won't give up now. We must give the Iraqis the best chance possible to salvage a democratic society, but eventually we'll leave... hopefully on good terms with their government. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, and do better the next time.
This isn't a war against simply "terror"; it's a war against those who seek to dominate this vital area of the world in order to increase their own power, and destroy Western civilization. We cannot allow these people to succeed -- the stakes are too high. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter stood where I stand tonight, and announced what is known as the "Carter Doctrine". Here's what he said:
'Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.'
This doctrine has been re-affirmed by every President since then. Tonight, I would like to add a small caveat to this statement; henceforth, it shall be the position of the United States that 'any attempt by any force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region through violence will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.'
Only three words separate our new policy from that outlined by President Carter, and the spirit of the statement remains the same -- we will not allow either an outside force, or those who seek to re-establish the Caliphate, to gain control of the Middle East. We stopped Osama Bin Laden, we stopped Saddam Hussein, and we must have the determination to stop the next would-be tyrant.
You won't hear this tomorrow night... but hopefully our leaders know that this is the direction we, as a nation, need to steer.