Maybe this subject really is too political for a fishing board, and if I am guilty in keeping it going, then I do apologize. Having said that, I am feeling lonely and noone has come to see me in the Old Folks Home for over a year. I have been saving up my pills for an overdose after the November elections, so I am off my medication for a while. So here goes:
I agree with Pope that "torture", however one defines it, is appropriate if and only if it is likely to produce results--and those, of a substantial nature, in an extremely serious situation.
In my old age, if I am talking to a Hillary Clinton supporter--oops, make that Borak Obama, now--I don't even try talking about the candidates. Rather, I like to discuss specific issues--you know--something to get them thinking. I recently was talking to a young woman who attends Columbia University. She is a very dear person and completely sincere. But, having been exposed only to academic, liberal opinions, she passionately hates George Bush and the war and everything he and it stand for. I asked her this about torture: "Assume the worst case--that President Obama, knew a thermonuclear weapon--or even "just" a dirty bomb--was buried under Manhattan. Assume further that it was known to be set for detonation in 24 hours. And assume finally that he knew beyond doubt that a certain captive knew where it was buried. Would President Obama be justified in that limited hypothetical, in authorizing (1) waterboarding or (2) true torture of the most vicious kind?" She told me that was a stupid hypothetical question that would never happen and she was not going to answer it.
But you know, the girl lives in New York--she doesn't really need to answer it--just think about it a little. I was born when Hitler still held sway over Europe. Soon I will be an old man. Hell, most of you probably think I am already!
And, as the scribe said in Ecclesiastics: "One generation passeth away...but the Earth abideth forever." I am willing to let the younger generation take over the government because this is their world. And as all of us who have children know: we can never save the next generation by holding out the example of our own mistakes--rather, they have to learn by their own.
I harbor the undying hope that when, (not if), we are attacked again, the younger generation, including our next President, will very quickly formulate the belief that the United States is worth saving, that, while we have much to learn and many problems, we remain, nevertheless, if not the last, then certainly the very best hope of mankind.
I harbor the undying hope that the young people will realize that it is fine to travel to other countries and embrace "leaders" like Bin-Laden, Castro, and Chavez, and say bad things about the United States--just so long as one can return to America to live without being imrisoned for speaking freely.
And I harbor the undying hope they will come to see that, when the United States is attacked on their watch, that it is morally sound to defend it.
If so, the United States will continue to march forward, as we have for over 200 years, into the fog of international relations.
If not, then sadly, perhaps the United States will have at that time forfeited our right to march forward as a world power and as the defender of the people's right to criticize its government.
The second thing I would point out is this (not my idea--but it bears repeating): To paraphrase the late, great, Oldsmobile commercials, "This is not our fathers' war."--or, I would add, our Grandfathers' or our Great Great Grandfathers'. It is something new. We were fighting civilians in Germany and Japan, in the sense that they were building the war materiel in support of the troops. We had to bomb the cities where they hid the production lines. And, had Presidents Roosevelt and Truman not had the moral courage, respectively, to build and use the atomic bomb, we would have had to lose anywhere from a hundred-thousand to a million troops in the invasion of the Japanese homeland.
But that was only the beginning. In the current war, our enemies are not "troops" in the traditional sense of the word--and therefore subject to the Geneva Convention. Rather, they are civilian para-military who hide. They hide in caves, in cities, in schools, in hospitals, and even in their own mosques. They stone their women to death for being raped and they teach their children to strap bombs to their bodies and vaporize themselves. They hate us beyond imagination, and the only people they hate more than us "infidels" are those who have accepted Islam and rejected it. We cannot be bound by the Geneva Convention or by the rules of conventional warfare, which grew up by common acceptance among gentlemen warriors over many centuries. We cannot even afford to play by the rules of the "Cold War"--mutually assured destruction.
Because our enemies do not play by any rules. And, unlike our Judeo-Christian or the Buddhist or Hindu worlds, they are largely willing to accept death instead of pursuing life. President Obama will have to face the fact, somewhere in his administration(s), that "reaching out" to our enemies will bear no fruit--but in fact, will bear retalliation based on a perception of weakness. Jimmy Carter was a sincere, well-meaning, though incompetent president (who, I might add was elected to provide an alternative to Bush and, as a "Washington Outsider" who would bring about "change". Sound familiar, fellow tuna heads?)
Noone "reached out" to our Islamic enemies more than President Carter. Noone negotiated more and did less. And what was his reward--only to be ridiculed and manipulated by the Iranian Islamic Revolution for over a year. Similary, Bill Clinton "reached out" and spurned any kind of serious retalliation for attacks on his nation and on the Constitution he was sworn to defend. And what happened? The Cole was attacked and the first World Trade Center bombing occurred. Following that, the instigator fled to the Phillipines and planned a future attack with American jetliners and an assassination of th very man who had "reached out" to them so sincerely--William Jefferson Clinton.
Noone will never know what was in the documents Sandy Berger admits to destroying after stealing them from the National Archives. More's the pity.
Nor will merely "reaching out" to our so-called friends, the Russians, the French, and the Germans, serve our cause if not backed by strength on the part of the United States. These virtually failed world powers have long depended upon the U.S. for their salvation--the French, for our saving them from the Germans, the Germans for saving them from themselves, and the Russians, for saving them from a failed philosophy of government and economics. But, like the whores they are, they assume we will be there for them when it counts and in the mean time, accept the highest price for providing to the Islamists substantially the same services that Monica Lewinski provided to President William Jefferson Clinton.
The lesson we would hope any president would learn from this would be quite simply this: that the hand with which we reach out should hold two things: an olive branch and a hand grenade. In appropriate circumstances, it might also have to have one finger on the nuclear trigger. Under such circumstances, it is less important how our President pronounces "nuclear" as it is that he understands it's use!
Another observation: The Democrats and many Republicans say "Bush lied about our reasons for going to war." And I reply: "Yes, that is what Presidents do." I will avoid, for the moment, adding that President Bush, to the extent he may have "lied", was not, at the time, like his predecessor, lying about having dropped his striped boxer shorts down around his milky-white thighs covered with moles, in the Oval Office in order to get a blow job from his own young female employee. I am beginning to think that, in addition to the legitimate ends of pursuing WMD (which, by the way everyone admits were there,) and destroying the largest Islamic army on the planet, we also achieved, whether we planned it or not, a civil war in Iraq. And I am sorry folks, but far from feeling that is a bad thing, I stand up and cheer. There is an old saying among Islamists: "My brother, my cousin, and I against the Infidel. My brother and me against my cousin. Me against my brother."That is the one key, I believe, to achieving their downfall. The more our enemies fight each other, the less time they have for the "infidel". And that, my fellow fishing buddies, is us.
Who can ever know whether the fact that the Shiites and the Sunnis have been pinned down fighting each other may have kept them off our shores these many years now? I cannot prove it, but who among us would have thought on September 12, 2001, that we would be facing the 2008 elections without (God forbid) another major attack on U.S. soil. Yes, 9-11 happened on Dubya's watch, just as the first attack happened on Bill "Stain of the Union" Clinton's watch. But we have not had a repeat in 7 years, and if President Bush is partly responsible for 9-11, then he is also solely responsible for the respite we have enjoyed since. My one hope for the future under a Democratic administration is the fact that the Democratic Congress has not had the moral fortitude to withdraw funding for the troops they promised to bring home.
No, we have not had a repeat.
But we will. We will.
We will be attacked again--on our own soil and most likely with atomic weapons. We cannot yet know who will be Commander in Chief at that time. But given the large-scale rejection of President Bush by those who oppose his actions in Iraq, and given the apparent downward trend in the economy, you have to think a Democrat will prevail. And that now appears to be arguably one of the most liberal and anti-war Democrats available to the electorate--Borak Obama. Many of us here are over 50 and most of us would answer to the "conservative" label--though not all, I grant you.
What I want to say to those of you who think as I do is this:
When, (again,not if) we are attacked during President Obama's term of office, we need to avoid screaming: "We told you so" to him, to his overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, and to those who elected them. Rather, it is incumbent on us to behave as we would have hoped the Obama supporters would have done when we were attacked with a Republican in the White House--that is, to gut it up and embrace President Obama as our leader, give him the benefit of the doubt, and hope that he will stand strong in the face of our enemies and respond in the only manner to which they will grant us a modicum of respect--in the strongest terms.
That will be very, very hard, my friends, but I for one intend to behave in just that way--until, and unless, he fails to do so. In that case, I intend to demonstrate to the liberal Democrats of this country that freedom of speech is a two-way street, and do everything lawful to defeat or impeach him. But make no mistake--I am hoping against hope that he succeeds. Because he will be OUR president.
(I think I need to go fishing more often.