Democrats are not alone in suffering from the naivete virus. Several Republicans last week exhibited a similar deficiency in wisdom. John McCain, Arizona Republican senator, may have severely hurt his chances for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination by suggesting the United States should be bound by the Geneva Conventions in dealing with stateless terrorists determined to murder civilians. Murdering civilians is condemned by those same Conventions, but the jihadists are not persuaded to conform to these treaties. McCain (who was joined by fellow Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and former Secretary of State Colin Powell) suggested that "torturing" terrorists to extract information that might save American lives could put U.S. soldiers at risk and that other nations would be more likely to abuse U.S. captives if Americans appeared to sanction such conduct.
The North Vietnamese imprisoned and tortured McCain for five and a half years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. The communists were not influenced by America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions. Neither are the terrorists, who kidnap - and force their captives to convert to Islam or, in many cases, behead them - influenced by America's behavior toward enemy combatants.
The jihadists know nothing but intimidation and domination. They believe us to be weak. They believe religions practiced freely within our borders are inferior to theirs. If they have their way, all of those who practice any religion but theirs will be killed or severely discriminated against. They also believe their god has told them to take over the world. That's what they say in their sermons and media. That is what they demonstrate by their actions. Why do so many believe otherwise?
It's easy for the elites to talk warm and fuzzy, as if being nice to killers can persuade them to be nice to us. That's because most of the elites have escape routes or bunkers in which they can hide during a future attack. The rest of us are on our own. We should not have to pay for their naivete.
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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