A long time ago, in a country that now seems far, far away, the United States of America was feared and respected, especially by its enemies. No nation or terrorist group considered attacking America on its own soil, and most people thought twice before harming an American overseas.
On the day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini released 52 American hostages he had held for 444 days. He had kept them that long because he realized a weak and indecisive President Jimmy Carter (who now advises President Bush to follow a similar path) wasn't going to employ force to get them back. The Ayatollah rightly feared that Reagan might turn Iran into a parking lot if he didn't let our people go.
Terrorists now attack us here and around the world. They threaten to blow up Disney World and knock down the Statue of Liberty if we attack Iraq. We are allowing nations as small as Guinea and as large as France, Germany and Iraq to transform America from a roaring lion into a paper tiger. The weenies pull our tail with no consequences.
Rogue regimes and even some European nations that would not be free to criticize us had we not spilled our blood for their freedom now spit in our eye with impunity, because, like Gulliver tied up by the Lilliputians, or Samson after his haircut, we appear unable or unwilling to respond.
Nowhere is our indecisiveness on display more than at the United Nations. As stories appeared about an American campaign to win the support of Guinea, the Wall Street Journal editorialized, "the spectacle of the U.S. government begging that African nation for permission to sacrifice American blood and treasure to save the world from Saddam Hussein exposes the farce that the U.N. Security Council's Iraq debate has become. Every day of delay in starting the war matters little to Guinea, but it puts more Americans at mortal risk."
It has been six months since President Bush boldly and dramatically told the United Nations that unless it acted on all of the resolutions it had already passed, it faced irrelevancy. It has not acted and debates still more resolutions. They might as well be dropped from airplanes flying over Iraq for all the impact they have.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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