Laying it on the line

Andrew Sullivan praises President Bush’s recent speech. As Sullivan sees it, “the case for war both in Afghanistan and Iraq has always been a complex and varied one, despite the attempts of the cynics to reduce it to one issue (and then blame the administration for simplisme). The fundamental lesson of 9/11 seems to me to be the following: it was no longer possible for the West to ignore or enable the poisonous and dangerous trends in the Middle East. The combination of autocratic fragility, huge wealth, new technology, and an Islamist ideology modeled on the National Socialism of the past was and is an enormous threat to the world. The odd cruise missile strike; diplomatic initiatives to failed despots; appeasement of terror; and acquiescence in Euro-cynicism about the Arab potential for democracy – all these were made moot by 9/11. They were no longer viable options. We either aggressively engaged or we hunkered down and prayed that a calamity would not at some point strike us all. To its historic credit, the Bush administration resisted its own early isolationist impulses and took the high road. To their eternal shame, the French and Germans, the far rights, the far left, and many (but not all) of the Democrats opted for inaction or a replay of the failed policies of the past. What this president did was radical, progressive, risky.”
Accordingly, what Bush “needed to do – as any leader needs to do in wartime – is constantly remind people of the context of the struggle, to bring their attention from the day-by-day exigencies of any war, with its casualties and battles and setbacks, to the bigger picture. We are fighting for the defense of liberty in the world – again. And we are now trying to bring it to the one region and culture which has been untouched by it for so long: the Middle East.”
Sullivan believes that Bush accomplished this. Sullivan was particularly fond of Bush’s comparisons of our present efforts to our post World War II defense of Greece and the Berlin airlift. Says Sullivan, “This isn’t a replay of Vietnam. It’s a replay of an earlier, nobler war that changed the world for the better. Those are still the stakes today. And we cannot let cynicism or partisanship prevent us from winning the fight.”
Will speeches like the president’s latest enable him to defeat such cynicism and partisanship? I don’t know. The latest economic news should help, though.

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