The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


You’re on the road heading to a new destination and you become hopelessly lost. For a moment, let’s assume you have only two options: (1) retrace your steps and return home—the trip is complex and simply not worth the effort; (2) stay the course, even though your best efforts have gotten you hopelessly lost with relatively little likelihood of reaching your goal.

Neither option seems reasonable, given that we really do need to reach our destination. Yet, those appear to be the options that are being offered by our political leadership when we consider Iraq and the broader war against Islamofascism. The democrats desperately want to return home, regardless of the consequences that will ensue. The republicans want to continue along the same path, even though they’ve succeeded in hitting every pothole in the road. It’s my take that both sides are wrong and it’s time for a new set of directions.

Is it possible to achieve a central path – something that could be adopted by both parties? In honesty, I fear not. The level of raw hatred of Bush emanating from the left and the complete distain of leftist ideology coming from the right, make bipartisanship all but impossible.

Having said that, I’d like to propose a set of basic guidelines that I believe might help us all—left and right—as we move out of the beginning of the beginning of this long and dangerous war on Islamofascists.

Stop obsessing about the mistakes that have already been made, and look forward. Our lives are at stake.

Both democratic and republican administrations have made grievous mistakes over the past 30 years. The Carter administration’s feckless approach to the Iranian hostage crisis set the stage for the current Islamofascist resurgence. The Clinton administration decided to kick the can down the road and did relatively little to meet the growing threat of Islamofascism (e.g., WTC – I and the events in Somalia during the 1990s). The Reagan administration gave Hezballah a pass after it killed 200+ Marines in Beirut during the 1980s. The current Bush administration made serious mistakes of hubris and many strategic military blunders when it entered into the war in Iraq. The result of these mistakes is an energized Islamic enemy that perceives us a weak-willed and ineffective.

We can debrief once the long war is over. Until that time, it’s important to develop strategies that will defeat our enemy, not embolden him.

Recognize that our enemy celebrates “double-think.” Islamofascists cannot be assumed to act rationally or to negotiate honestly.

Our enemy is not rational in the conventional sense of the term. For example, tens of millions of Muslims believe that 9-11 was a plot hatched by “Zionists or the CIA or both” while at the same time celebrating it as a great Islamic victory. Can’t be both, but it is.

The implications are clear. We negotiate only after the enemy provides us with some tangible, good-faith indication of his seriousness to bargain, i.e., the enemy must give us something to get us to the table – not the reverse! Is this a good negotiating strategy? In general, the answer is ‘no,’ but history indicates that Islamic entities have no compunction about breaking treaties, going back on signed agreements, and reinterpreting verbal commitments. Worse, history has shown that they use negotiation as a delaying tactic, hoping (quite often, correctly) that over time any coalition they are negotiating with will fracture.

It’s time to tell them, publically and forcefully, “No good faith offering by you, no talk. If an agreement is signed, it must be kept -- without modification or additional interpretation. If those constraints to negotiation are unacceptable, we will aggressively pursue other alternatives.”

Our culture must respect other cultures and recognize that not all people are ready for democracy, even if they do want to be free.

As Iraq, Gaza, and Lebanon demonstrate, Arab people may want freedom, but they cannot and will not come to it easily or without great pain. Before we decide to help them or encourage Arabic Islam toward democratic government, we’d better be damn sure that the “democracy” they achieve is going to be better than whatever it replaced.

And when a culture celebrates death and preaches hatred, we must reject and defeat it without regard to the reasons (both real and imagined) that have precipitated that culture’s mindset. If its leaders have been democratically elected, we treat them with no more respect than we would treat any other enemy. Democracy does not insulate a culture from reprisal when its basic foundation is built on hatred and barbarism.

We must reject post modern moral equivalence.

Evil is real. Terrorism is a fact. It is not reasonable to equate the wanton, targeted mass murder of innocents by non-state actors with civilian deaths that occur during wartime. It is intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible to argue that perceived “oppression” somehow justifies acts of mass murder or that perceived “humilation” somehow forgives hate speech, or that our own defense against terror “creates new terrorists.” Inane talk about a “cycle of violence” in this context initiates a cycle of idiocy.

Human rights and civil liberties must be preserved, but their short term interpretation can be modified so as not to jeopardize the continuing survival of our way of life.

Wikipedia presents the following discussion of this issue:
"The Constitution is not a suicide pact" is a rhetorical phrase in American political and legal discourse. The phrase expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must give way to urgent practical needs. It is most often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, as a response to charges that he was violating the United States Constitution by suspending habeas corpus during the American Civil War. Though the phrase echoes statements made by Lincoln, the precise phrase "suicide pact" was first used by Justice Robert H. Jackson in his dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. Chicago, a 1949 free speech case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under the United States Constitution, once war is declared by the United States Congress, hapeas corpus can be suspended pursuant to the constitution. See United States Constitution. Thus, suspension of habeas corpus was both legal and constitutional …

In the Terminiello case, the majority opinion, by Justice William O. Douglas overturned the disorderly conduct conviction of a priest whose anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi rantings at a rally had incited a riot. The court held that Chicago's breach of the peace ordinance violated the First Amendment.

Jackson wrote a twenty-four page dissent in response to the Court's four page decision, which concluded: "The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

We must become energy independent. Our addiction to foreign oil funds of our enemy.

Our inability to become energy independent is the greatest political failure of my lifetime. The oil crisis of the 1970s was a warning, but democrats and republicans did nothing. Now, faced with an enemy that is funded by oil revenues, we must act. Everyone knows that this is the right course, but republicans and democrats continue to show a depressing lack of political courage to make it happen.

We must stop our addiction to oil, no matter who it hurts and what the short-term economic consequences are. If big oil and auto companies are hurt, so be it. If our economy suffers as a consequence, we’ll have to bare it. Remember, point #1 – sacrifice. Over the long haul, the economy and major corporations will adapt, but they cannot be allowed to derail the effort. We cannot allow big oil and big auto companies and their powerful lobbyists to interfere.

Significant tax incentives (well-publicized and explained) for individuals are all that are needed to begin. The cost would be far less than the cost of the Iraq war and will probably yield far better long-term results.

Can you image how many electric vehicles (a zero emissions technology that exists today) would be purchased if an individual paid no sales tax on the purchase, received a 50% tax deduction for the purchase price, and a 125% deduction for any financing costs? I suspect we’d have millions of electric vehicles on the road in 3 years. With that kind of demand, our free market system will take care of the rest.

We must make it illegal for any corporation to buy and then bury new energy saving technologies. Make it a matter of national security. If you buy it and then don’t use it, you lose it. Period.

We must encourage alternative energy sources and provide government incentives for their development, but at the same time, move forward with existing technologies rather than waiting for promising ones.

When talk fails and violence must be applied, it must be applied fully, without hesitation or apology.

We’ve tried the “proportional response” approach and we’ve worked hard to avoid collateral civilian casualties. The problem is, these efforts degrade our ability to fight an enemy who cares about neither.

There will come a time in the near future (I fear) when our collective gut will tell us that it’s time to jettison concerns about proportionality and collateral damage. When that time comes, we must commit to deliver violence that will pummel the enemy (and his supporters) until they plead for cessation.

When that time comes, our new message should be: “If you harbor murderous Jihadis, if you live amongst them, if you quietly support them in any way, you have signed your own death warrant.” From that point forward, we make no apologies and offer no excuses.