I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that speaks volumes in just three lines. The problem is that one word turns the whole bumper sticker into a pile of peacenik propaganda and not something I could support. Here’s a quick HTML rendition of the bumper sticker:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
END THE WAR

I certainly believe in honoring our dead, particularly our military dead. As our national anthem says, they stood “Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.” And we are forever in their debt for their ultimate sacrifice. I certainly cannot argue with the call to honor our dead.

And I certainly believe in healing our wounded. Since our military men and women have placed themselves in harm’s way for us, we as a nation have the responsibility to heal them when they are wounded. Shoddy care for our wounded is a stain on our nation’s honor, and it is a stain on our government’s honor, both on the elected representatives and the faceless bureaucrats who manage our military’s care centers. And it is not acceptable. If I were President, I would submit a budget to Congress that placed a higher priority on taking care of the health of our military.

But it is the last sentence that twists the previous valid statements into craptastic peacenik propaganda. Notice that it says “END the war,” not “WIN the war.” It’s a trivial task to end any war if you’re willing to run away from the fight. If we were to run away from Iraq, *poof* the war would be over, and these useful idiots could link their arms and sing “Kumbaya” in onanistic joy.

Morons.

Contrary to what the bumpersticker crowd would have you believe, merely ending the war will not result in lasting peace. Only winning a war results in peace. I explained how this works a year ago:

Peace comes through winning the war and making the loser beg to sit at the negotiation table. Peace does not come from going to the negotiation table and signing some documents, unless the war has already been fought and won. Don’t believe me? In an attempt to appease the Germans, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sat down at the negotiation table with Hitler, but there was no peace. Germany annexed the Sudetenland that same year, invaded Poland the next, and invaded the rest of Europe by 1940. That was no peace. But after Japan signed the terms of surrender on the USS Missouri, there was peace between the U.S. and Japan for more than 60 years.

I’ll take real and lasting peace through victory any time.

I want peace. Peace is preferable to war, but as long as there are zealous Islamic nutjobs willing to kill men, women, and children to further their goals of a world-wide Islamic state, we will not have peace. We may have brief lulls between fighting, but we will not have peace.

While I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, and I doubt I ever will, the following is a bumper sticker that I could agree with 100%:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
WIN THE WAR

Last week I overheard two conversations. Technically, both of the quotes below were part of the same long conversation, but there was enough of a pause between them that I’ll label them separately.

The first phrase that perked my ears was in conjunction to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, the one that prohibits President Clinton (or any other twice-elected President) from serving a third term. One person was lamenting that President Clinton couldn’t run again unless that Amendment were overturned by another, the way the 18th was overturned by the 21st. And then came the phrase that really got my attention:

“The Republicans don’t want to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Bush could be elected a third time, because they know that President Clinton would be elected with a majority of the vote if he ever ran again.”

I could have responded, but I was talking with a customer about a fairly complicated technical issue, and I decided to concentrate on the issue at hand. But if I’d been free to say it, I would have replied:

Reelected with a majority? What makes you think President Clinton could be reelected with a majority when he never got a majority in his two times at bat?

The conversation drifted away from politics and into the realm of work for the next little while, but it veered back onto the subject of President Clinton when one of the guys asked why people would vote for President Clinton if the choice were available. Here is the response from the same guy quoted above:

Clinton was a great president because he didn’t take us into war. Instead, he was a perfect caretaker for the nation as he kicked the ball of problems down the road. It was Bush who couldn’t keep the peace and wrecked the economy. The economy was great under Clinton, and people would vote for Clinton again to bring back that prosperity.

Ah. Where to start with this? Since I was still on the phone with a customer (that call lasted for over three hours), I couldn’t bring up the bubble economy of the dot-com craze, nor could I bring up Haiti, Kosovo, or Somalia to show that President Clinton had no problem with taking the nation to war, ignoring the U.N. as he did so. Remember the huge peace protests in all our major cities when our forces bombed from 30,000 feet? It’s funny that protesters only seem to wind up the anti-war machine when a Republican is in office.

But if there is any definitive reason why President Clinton should never be reelected, it is precisely because he failed to act when it really mattered. This inaction allowed Osama bin Laden to become progressively more bold as he viewed the U.S. as a paper tiger. After all, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Khobar Towers in 1996, two embassies in Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole attacked in 2000. The response was measured at best, and so ineffectually wimpy at worst as to let Osama believe that the U.S. would never respond to an escalated attack. That’s the sort of problem that occurs when a leader kicks the ball of problems down the road, rather than dealing with it himself. If you don’t agree, I have a phrase from history for you to ponder:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

Much has been said and written about the current fighting between Israel and Iran-backed terrorist organization of Hezbollah based in southern Lebanon. I’ve heard many liberals at work and on the radio say that Israel should not be attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon. After all, why is Israel waging war in another sovereign nation? It’s funny that none of them seem to notice that Hezbollah was waging war in another sovereign nation, namely Israel, and that Hezbollah and other Arab terrorists organizations and nations have the goal of a Middle East without an Israel. But they are not the only people to envision a world without the nation of Israel.

Here is how CNN sums up the current struggle in one paragraph:

Israel launched an extensive bombing campaign against the militant Islamist group after it abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed three others in a raid into northern Israel last Wednesday. Since Thursday, Hezbollah has fired 750 rockets into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israel is doing its best to avoid civilian deaths in their bombing runs, but even with accurate guided munitions, civilians will die, and part of the blame lies not with the Israelis dropping the bombs on military and strategic targets, but on Hezbollah which is blocking civilians from fleeing the combat zone. And notice that while Israel is targeting the Hezbollah fighters while Hezbollah is indiscriminately tossing rockets into Israel. They obviously don’t care whether their rockets kill soldiers or civilians.

There is a world of difference between these two. It’s a shame that more people can’t recognize that Israel is fighting for their lives. Cox and Forkum points out the disproportion response going on.

disproportionate response

The criticism that Israel is using a “disproportionate response” to the kidnappings of its soldiers is an attempt to morally disarm Israel and make Israel out to be a bully. This notion is ludicrous when considered in the full context: Hezbollah and Hamas initiated the current crisis in an ongoing war against Israel’s right to exist. Notice that no one cried “disproportionate response” when Hamas demanded 1,200 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t playing a game of proportions, why should Israel?

I’m all for Israel to be victorious over the terrorist thugs who wish to see Israel gone.

Once again, the duo of Cox and Forkum take up their art supplies to create a great political cartoon.

Palestinian Body Armor

You might think that is pretty harsh, but when you take a look at some of the photos posted on Little Green Footballs about children and civilians being used by the Palestinian militants as human shields, you should realize that the cartoon is only slightly exaggerated.

Palestinian Human Shield

Palestinian Human Shield

Palestinian Human Shield

Palestinian Human Shield

I have to wonder why Palestinian parents allow their children to run around so close to militants. Don’t they love them? Don’t they want to watch their kids grow up? Charles of LGF points to a Reuters report that shows the Palestinian youths yearn for martyrdom, too. In his article on Real Clear Politics, Robert Tracinski points to “Umm Nidal, the ‘mother of martyrs,’ who has sent three of her sons to kill themselves in terrorist attacks on Israel, proclaiming that their ‘sacrifice…makes me happy.’” Judging by her standard, I’d have to say that she doesn’t love her kids enough to want to watch them become adults. Tracinski also points to an interesting difference between the culture of martyrdom and sacrifice of the Palestinians and the culture of their Israeli neighbors:

For the great mass of Palestinians this worship of sacrifice is sincere. By rejecting every chance at peace and coexistence with Israel–breaking every truce and turning down every peace offer–they have lost everything and gained nothing. Taking the suicide bomber as their moral model, the Palestinians seek to emulate his fate: in their lust to destroy Israel, they are willing to accept the utter destruction and collapse of their own society.

Look to the other side of the security barrier and you see a very different society. While the Palestinians raise their children on visions of blood and murder, the Israelis are largely preoccupied by the business of producing, creating, making a living. Consider, for example, the vast Gaza greenhouses handed over from the departing Israelis to the Palestinians. In the hands of the society that “made the desert bloom,” these greenhouses produced millions of dollars worth of produce. Under Palestinian control, they were looted and their products have literally been left to rot. As with the Cold War examples of East and West Berlin, Gaza and Israel offer side-by-side laboratories for opposing moralities.

Regardless of which side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict you might champion, you have to acknowledge that the majority of Palestinians are breaking the first two of Niven’s Laws:

1a – Never throw s*** at an armed man.
1b – Never stand next to someone who is throwing s*** at an armed man.

Here is a bit of truth for you: in any conflict, the aggressor sets the rules. Let me explain. If two men are fighting under Marquess of Queensberry rules, then their match will continue under those rules unless and until one of them decides to break the rules and pull out a knife. At that point, the idea of a “fair fight” goes right out the window. By pulling out a blade, the aggressor has upped the ante to include knives, so all the self-imposed rules about boxing gloves and no hitting below the belt vanish.

If a friendly karate sparring match becomes a full-contact fight, the opponent is fully justified to use full force to put down the aggressor and end the fight. This is true for nations as well. The Geneva Convention bans the use of poisonous gas in a conflict, and in a hypothetical conflict between the U.S. and France, both sides would be bound by that agreement as signatories. But if France were to fire off some mustard gas at U.S. troops, the U.S. would no longer be bound by the Geneva Convention.

The aggressor sets the rules, but the position of “aggressor” is not limited to just one side or the other, and it may flip back and forth during a conflict. One boxer may start hitting below the belt. The other may start biting and head-butting. The first could escalate to using a folding chair, and the second could respond by pulling out a knife. In each instance, the one who escalates the fight is the aggressor and has set the new level of acceptable violence.

And war is violence, pure and simple. But we don’t fight wars purely and simply. If we did, we wouldn’t bother with things like guided bombs or calling off strikes because civilians are around. We’d just carpet-bomb a city to rubble if it meant getting the one person we want, or using a wave of nuclear explosions to turn a country into a sea of glass. The U.S. military (and, by extension, the civilian leaders over the military) have shown an amazing amount of self-control. Our forces have been very careful to avoid unnecessary casualties. I saw a video of a helicopter pilot guiding a missile to a truck containing known terrorists brandishing weapons. As the missile streaked toward the truck, a car filled with innocent people pulled alongside the terrorists as both vehicles waited to pass over a bridge. The pilot could have taken out the terrorists, but he would have almost certainly killed or hurt the passengers in the other car, so he ditched the missile into the river. That is the level of professionalism under which our military men and women are expected to work.

While al-Zarqawi was alive, he was responsible for a wave of beheadings, including the gruesome death of Nick Berg–who died screaming while al-Zarqawi sawed at his neck. Clearly al-Zarqawi was the aggressor, but the U.S. has not changed its strategy to include beheadings. Our military has decided not to stoop to the level of these terrorist thugs. But I think there is one place where our response should change, based on the acts of the aggressors who are fighting us. These thugs have no problem using their religion as a tool to fight the U.S. and the West, so I think we ought to change our tactics to include using their religion as a weapon against them. Normally religion would be hands off, but as the aggressors, they changed the rules.

Now imagine this scene: several camera crews are brought to the morgue where al-Zarqawi’s body is housed. They take close-up pictures of his face and known identifying marks to establish his identity. Then al-Zarqawi’s naked body is rubbed down with pig fat, and liquid lard is pumped into his stomach. His head is cut off with a knife, his body is chopped up, and the remains are fed to pigs and wild dogs. When the animals have eaten all they can stand of him, they are slaughtered and their corpses, their filth, and any leftover thug-bits are gathered up and dumped far out at sea. Under Muslim belief, these actions would be sufficient to deny al-Zarqawi his 72 virgins in paradise, deny anyone access to a gruesome relic, and serve as a deterrent to thug-wannabes who don’t want to miss out on their paradisiacal pleasures.

Would that ever happen? No. Would we be justified in doing that to his corpse? I say yes. These thugs have changed the rules by bringing beheadings, mutilations, and religion into this conflict. The actions described above would be playing by their rules. I think that, at the very least, we should announce that we will bury the corpses of known terrorists with pig parts. And that includes any and all bits we can scrape up of the remains of a homicide bomber.

Call me evil and vindictive if you like, but I don’t care. The nutjobs have chosen to change the rules by bringing their religion into the fight.

War is difficult. And during a war, not all battles will be won, so it is possible to get discouraged by what you see, read, or hear. But contrary to what some people may think or say, we are winning in the war against the terrorist thugs who want to destroy America, our freedoms, and us. Here is something written by John Stuart Mill about the ugliness of war:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

I salute those brave men and women who have placed their bodies “between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.” They are keeping Americans free, both this grateful supporter and the miserable creatures who will not lift a finger in support.

I’ll close with a poem written by Robert Burns, a poetic rendering of the rallying cry of Robert the Bruce to his troops at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn

SCOTS, what hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
      Or to victorie!

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lour;
See approach proud Edward’s power –
      Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
      Let him turn and flee!

Wha, for Scotland’s King and Law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa’,
      Let him on wi’ me!

By Oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We sill drain our dearest veins,
      But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!
      Let us do or die!

This poem always succeeds in making the Scottish bits of my blood boil, and my fingers itch to pick up a claymore and go smite the foe. Not that a bald fat guy like me would be all that effective in a fight, so I’ll do what I can with the tools that I have. Onward, fellow 101st Fighting KeeBees!

Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea.

If you had held a gun to my head five years ago and demanded that I list the leading terrorism-sponsoring nations, I would have rattled off the list above. (What you wouldn’t have heard was my mental swear-thoughts directed at you for holding a gun to my head. I can’t believe you’d do that to me. I thought we were friends.)

Much has happened since a certain fateful day in September 2001. Since then, Pakistan has become an ally in the war–not a staunch ally like the British or Australians have been, but they have made an impressive change. Another ally of the same “uh, I guess it’s nice to have you” variety is Libya. Qadhafi could see the handwriting on the wall and started to cooperate with the United States by turning over Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program which he was housing.

Now Iraq and Afghanistan have been changed from the Rule of Thug to the Rule of Law. Sadly, this required military action, and many lives were lost. But the end result is fifty million people who are no longer under the cruel thumb of dictators, and these nations have had both public and free elections. Score two big successes in President Bush’s column.

This leaves three nations in the list unchanged. Of these, North Korea is run by a loon. Jon Herskovitz sums up the “Dear Leader” well:

In the cult of personality in North Korea, Kim, a short, pudgy man with a pompadour and platform shoes, is king.

After all, this is a man who pilots jet fighters — even though he always travels by land for his infrequent trips abroad. He has penned operas, produced movies and accomplished a feat unmatched in the annals of professional golf, shooting 11 holes-in-one on the first round he ever played.

If we can believe Kim Jong Il–and why not believe such a skilled golfer?–then North Korea already has nuclear weapons. Presumably, these were being worked on while former President Jimmy Carter was leading North Korea into the Agreed Framework, a negotiated agreement to prevent the North Koreans from doing exactly what they claim to have done. Cox and Forkum explain easily how Kim could have lied to President Carter. Frankly, it is in the nature of a communist dictator to say what he wants. The decades of lies issuing from the Soviet Union should provide ample proof.

In a National Review Online article in 2002, John O’Sullivan put North Korea and Iraq together with the disaster of President Carter’s negotiations on behalf of then-President Clinton:

We now know, of course, that though presidential candidate George Bush was mocked by the “experts” two years ago when he criticized the Washington-Pyongyang agreement as dangerously lacking in “transparency,” he was absolutely right. Apply the lessons of North Korea to Iraq. North Korea and Iraq are both dangerous because they are both secretive totalitarian regimes bent upon maximizing their power through the possession of nuclear weapons. Those who ignored these transparent facts in the case of North Korea — including Bill Clinton, the U.S. State Department, the New York Times, Jimmy Carter (and not forgetting the Nobel Prize Committee) — should humbly observe a vow of silence on Iraq. Instead they are observing a vow of silence of North Korea.

“But we didn’t find any WMDs in Iraq!” I hear the doubters cry. While it is true that we haven’t found masses of WMDs in Iraq, there is evidence that 1) Iraq had manufactured/procured WMDs–witness Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds, and the terrorists’ use of Iraqi mortar shells containing mustard gas and Sarin in their IEDs, 2) Iraq passed a large supply of WMDs to Syria that were later caught as they crossed from Syria into Jordan, and 3) Saddam Hussein was most interested in getting his hands on working nuclear weapons. That is what his nuclear scientists were doing in Libya; when Saddam fell from power, Qadhafi didn’t want the presence of those scientists in his country to attract American ire.

And so we come to Syria. Another Ba’athist party-run nation, as Iraq was under Hussein, Syria has some very strong political ties with the deposed Iraqi regime. As mentioned above, Syria has been a long-time supporter of terrorism, and it has been controlling the disaster that is Lebanon for the past two decades. As the ever-so-lovely wife pointed out, “Lebanon is a NINO: a nation in name only.” But this NINO is starting to shake off its Syrian-forged chains. When I first started to write this article, those chains were still firmly in place, but things are changing in Lebanon. Syrian-backed Prime Minister Omar Karami said that he and his government are resigning: “Out of concern that the government does not become an obstacle to the good of the country, I announce the resignation of the government I had the honor to lead.” They are resigning because of the pressure being put to bear on them by the Lebanese people rising up and calling for Syria to leave Lebanon, which it has pledged to do.

Why is Syria reacting this way? It could swarm into Lebanon and put down the uprising, just as the Soviet Union quashed the Hungarian uprising in 1956. But so far it has not. Why? Could it be the armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door? Could it be that these armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door are increasingly not being tied down in Iraq? Could it be the armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door that are increasingly not being tied down in Iraq were also the force that destroyed the strongest military force in the Arab world in three weeks, and could squish Syria like a grape? Could be. And it could also have something to do with 8 million Iraqi people giving Syria the purple finger.

I’m becoming hopeful that Syria will see the changing tide in the Middle East and will change itself. It is showing this change in how it is reacting to the changes in Lebanon, by its choice to turn over to Iraqi custody Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and 29 other high-level people. I can practically hear Syria saying, “What Iraqi Ba’athists? Oh, you mean these Iraqi Ba’athists. Gosh, how did that ever happen? Here, you have ‘em.”

Finally, there is Iran. I saved this nation for last, because it is both the most populous and, arguably, the most dangerous of the seven nations. Iran has been the most active state-sponsored terrorist nation for decades. It has been led since the 1970s by religious leaders who have taught the Iranian people to hate the U.S with a passion. Don’t believe me? Recently, Iranians in the United States wanted to hold an anti-American celebration in the Marriott hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. While this Washington Post article explains that the event was shut down, it doesn’t report the planned event’s full name: “Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of the Glorious Victory of the Islamic Revolution and Death to America Day.”

Iran is currently at work on its own nuclear program. Yep. This nation, possessed of vast oil reserves, ostensibly needs nuclear plants to provide power for its people. But we don’t have to worry about Iran creating nuclear weapons because their plans are completely peaceful. You can trust them. Really.

France, Germany, and Britain have entered into an agreement with Iran to supply the bits and pieces necessary to get the country’s nuclear reactors up and running, and Iran in turn has promised not to enrich the uranium into bomb-capable material. At the same time, the three countries are recognizing that Iran has the right to go ahead and enrich the uranium. In other words, these three nations have become tools to the Iranians. Why shouldn’t Iran enter into nuclear negotiations with the West when it has learned from the way the West has treated North Korea? Daniel Eisenberg explained this in a article which has since disappeared from CNN’s website, but is still accessible via the Google cache:

Meanwhile, the IAEA has discovered that despite its agreement to temporarily suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, Iran was continuing to do maintenance work on a uranium-enrichment plant in southern Iran.

At the same time, the Iranians have allegedly finished designing a prototype of a detonator for a nuclear bomb, according to an opposition group based in Paris. Taking their cue from North Korea, the Iranians have seen “that you can extend a negotiating process and still build nukes,” says Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.

Thank you, President Carter, for setting Iranian expectations about negotiations, thanks to your Agreed Framework failure with North Korea.

Europeans are concerned about a possible military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities as a “mistake.” This is understandable when one considers that several European countries have a financial stake in Iran, providing the country’s nuclear reactor parts. This is strikingly similar to the “oil for peace” buyoffs that France, Germany, and Russia were receiving from Saddam Hussein. No wonder these three countries were so loud in denouncing President Bush’s plan to remove Hussein from power. They could see their gravy train leaving the station once Hussein fell.

And this year’s Neville Chamberlain Cluelessness Award goes to… *envelope opening* the Democrat Senator from Delaware, Joseph Biden! An article in the Boston Globe states: “Biden said that even if Iran was a full democracy like India, it would want nuclear capability, like India. What the world needed to address was Iran’s emotional needs, he said, with a nonaggression pact.”

The most recent notable non-aggression pact was between Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union. It didn’t last very long. But Neville Chamberlain is remembered now for a document he signed just before the beginning of hostilities by Nazi Germany. Chamberlain, the British prime minister, visited Hitler and signed a negotiated non-aggression pact. As he stepped off his plane back from Germany, he waved a printed statement that was “symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” He announced later, “I believe it is peace for our time.”

Prime Minister Chamberlain learned, to his sorrow, that signing papers and entering negotiations with dictators is pointless. President Carter has hopefully learned this lesson after finding out that his negotiations with North Korea were likewise meaningless. But Senator Biden still holds faith in a non-aggression pact.

Here’s your Chamberlain Cluelessness Award, Senator. I hope you don’t come to regret your words as much as Chamberlain did.

Addendum (3/7/2005): Still doubt that President Bush’s action against Saddam Hussein has had an effect on the people of the region? Here is a quote from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Turkish Press:

At the end of the interview, which was conducted last week, Assad said: “Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to cooperate.”

It might have been the photos of a grubby Saddam Hussein being pulled out of his rat hole.

In an off-the-cuff comment, I heard someone say that President Bush should be “nicer to his neighbors” this upcoming year. I guess it all depends on what you mean by “nice.” If liberating over 25 million people from the control of an evil dictator is being “nice,” then President Bush has been a resounding success. And I would be all for him being “nicer to his neighbors” in 2004. But I do not think this is what was meant by this comment.

“There has been no proof that Iraq was ever involved with the September 11th attacks!”
I hear this comment often, but what do people mean by “no proof”? The UK’s Telegraph published this story about how Mohammed Atta, the mastermind behind al-Qaeda’s attacks on September 11th, was trained in Iraq by Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal. I’m sure you heard all about this on the nightly news. What? You mean to say that Jennings, Brokaw and Rather did not broadcast this information? For shame! Allow me to fill you in.

A handwritten memo was discovered in Iraq showing that Mohammed Atta was deeply involved with Iraq in carrying off the September 11th attacks. In the memo, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, stated that Mohammed Atta “displayed extraordinary effort.” Any guesses as to what this effort was going towards? This Iraq visit took place in the summer of 2001, and Atta showed that he had the leadership skills needed to be “responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy.” A few weeks later, Mohammed Atta’s leadership succeeded in striking three targets that tragic autumn day. “We are uncovering evidence all the time of Saddam’s involvement with al-Qaeda,” Dr. Ayad Allawi, a member of Iraq’s ruling seven-man Presidential Committee, said. “But this is the most compelling piece of evidence that we have found so far. It shows that not only did Saddam have contacts with al-Qaeda, he had contact with those responsible for the September 11 attacks.”

Does this information make you any happier that President Bush invaded Iraq and shut down these training camps? The terrorist training camp of Salman Pak has been shut down, thanks to this war. It is a shame that Democrats hate the President so much that they are willing to ignore the proof of Iraqi involvement in terrorism.

“Bush said Iraq was an imminent threat.”
On September 18, 2003, liberal Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy said of Iraq, “There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership, that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.” This is not a new position from Kennedy. Earlier in January he claimed that President Bush “did not make a persuasive case that the threat is imminent and that war is the only alternative.” There is a problem with these statements by Kennedy (and many others) about Iraq not being an imminent threat — President Bush never claimed that Iraq was an imminent threat. In January, only minutes before Kennedy’s silly statement, President Bush stated: “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.”

Do you wait for the tiny lump in your breast to grow into an imminent threat to your life? Or do you have the doctor X-ray and remove it quickly? In this day of small but very deadly weapons, we cannot afford to wait until just before terrorists and evil dictators take the initiative to attack us. Giving terrorists this time is the same as giving that lump in your breast time to just go away on its own.

“Bush said the war in Iraq was over!”
I heard this comment from the same person who started off this article. I quickly pointed out that President Bush never said that the war in Iraq was over. His exact words were, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” This does not translate precisely into “the war is over,” but it does not stop people from thinking and saying so. It is not uncommon to hear someone pontificate on the nightly news about how many people have died since “war ended” in Iraq. ABC News is guilty of this in a report by Dean Reynolds. Reynolds quotes the line above delivered by President Bush, and then completely misses the point by following up with, “That was May 1. But as any GI in Iraq can attest, the fighting goes on.” Earth to Reynolds! The key word in President Bush’s statement was “major.” In his article, Reynolds further illustrates that the American people think that the war in Iraq is over. Why would Americans think this, Dean? Could it be the poor reporting work by ABC News?

The echoes of “peace on earth, good will to men” still ring in my ears from the Christmas season. This is a noble goal, but we do not have peace today. The war on terrorism is far from over, and Iraq is just one stop of many on the road to lasting peace. America was content to ignore al-Qaeda and other terrorists before September 11th, regardless of how much they threatened us. But once they brought their fight to our soil, we could ignore them no longer. These terrorists will not wake up one day saying, “Gee, I guess America really isn’t that bad after all.” Since they will not stop, our war against them will continue. As we close out 2003, two years after al-Qaeda terrorists declared war on America in actions we could no longer ignore, I think we need to read again President Bush’s statement about the nature of this conflict: “We will be patient, we will be focused, and we will be steadfast in our determination. This battle will take time and resolve. But make no mistake about it: we will win.”

November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States. This is the day we remember our servicemen and women who have placed their bodies “between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.” This is the day when everyone should buy some poppies from those old guys wearing the funny hats, who hang around at stores and street corners. Buy a few, shake their hands and thank them for their service. Look them in the eye when you do this, and then thank God that your eyes have been spared the horrors that these grey-haired gentlemen have witnessed. They do not know you, but they did it for you.

I am thinking of an elderly man whom I never had the chance to meet, but who was a friend of my father for many decades. Homer lied about his age so he could enlist in the Oklahoma National Guard at 16. Later, when the Army discovered that he had not finished high school, they discharged him so he could complete his education. But then it was December 7th, 1941, and Homer turned right around and went back to his unit. During his five years of service, he fought in Africa, the island of Sicily, mainland Italy, Austria, and Germany. On his first day of combat, his entire regiment was held down by some artillery on the near hillside. Homer and his brother crept up the hillside under cover of darkness, assaulting and killing the 12 to 14 soldiers who were manning the artillery there. He was wounded in this encounter and in many others, but he never sought attention from the medical corps. Homer knew that if he did, they would pull him from the front lines, and he could not desert his friends in the 45th Infantry Division. His last combat was in Munich, fighting room to room and to the last man in SS headquarters. He was awarded both the Silver and Bronze Stars for his actions, but it was only a short time before his death as a very old man that he was finally awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. You did not know him, but he served to protect your freedom.

I am thinking of my grandfather, Virgil. He was part of the 1st Cavalry, 7th Division, the same in which Custer served. During World War II, this division went island-hopping through the Pacific, liberating civilians from the Japanese. Virgil was called “Pops” by the troops since, at 33, he was by far the oldest one there. He did not need to serve in the military–he had been working for Shell Oil, and jobs in the petroleum industry were just as vital to the war effort as front-line soldiers. Virgil wanted to serve, but he explained to his bosses that he could not care for his family with a private’s pay. Shell told him that they would make up the difference if he wanted to serve, so he went and signed right up. Virgil volunteered for the Navy, but when the final assignment came he was tapped for service in the Army. He was part of the forces that landed on the islands of Leyte and Luzon, in the Philippines. At one point on Luzon Island, Virgil was asked to go and retrieve a wounded soldier. Since he didn’t have his boots on at the time, his friend James Jory jumped up and went instead. James ended up dying on this mission, having gone in my grandfather’s place. Later a telegram arrived at home indicating Virgil was missing and presumed dead, followed shortly by a telegram with the news that he was wounded and in the hospital. He was decorated for his two years of service. You did not know him, but he served to protect your freedom.

I am thinking of my wife’s grandfather, Karl. For many years, all that his family knew about his military experiences was that he had served honorably in World War II. It was not until the early 1980s, when his file was finally declassified, that Karl was free to tell his family that he had served in the 10th Mountain Division. He was part of the elite ski troops, but his most important missions were covert and deep behind enemy lines in Italy and Germany. During one of these missions, he was wounded in the leg; it was later amputated. He remained reticent to discuss most of his service to the end of his days; he died a month before Veterans Day 2004. While he was most likely worthy of being decorated, he did not seek for any medals. If you had visited his study, you would immediately have noticed his love of sailing ships, books, and family photographs, but there was nothing on display to indicate that he even served in the military. Those were memories he would rather have forgotten. You did not know him, but he served to protect your freedom.

I am thinking of my father, Bob. He had a love of flying from his earliest days, and this propelled him into a career in the Air Force. I grew up with the knowledge that the only good pilots were fighter pilots, and I was glad to hear the sonic booms of fast-flying planes. That one could be my Dad’s plane! Shortly after completing his training for the F-4, he was called to serve away from home. His squadron was based in Thailand, but his flights took him over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. On Bob’s twenty-third mission, his plane was shot up on the way to his bombing run, as was another F-4. After completing their bombing runs, the two planes headed back to base, looking for refueling tankers and safety. Bob’s airplane was leaking fuel badly and shortly would have flamed out over hostile territory. The pilot of the other F-4, Bob Pardo, suggested an untried feat that would later be known as
Pardo’s Push. Pardo managed to push the other damaged fighter jet for over ten minutes. He succeeded in pushing Bob’s airplane out of Vietnam airspace and into Laos. The four airmen ejected from their damaged, failing planes, and were picked up by a trained rescue crew. After recovering from his wounds from this mission, my father went back to complete one hundred missions. Bob, and the other three pilots involved in Pardo’s Push, were eventually awarded the Silver Star. You do not know him, but he served to protect your freedom

So today, when you see someone standing by the grocery store holding out some plastic poppies, shake that hero’s hand and thank him with all your heart for the service he gave so you could be free. And buy a poppy, and remember why they sell them today.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, Canadian Army
(pictured above)