Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is the polar opposite of John F. Kennedy.
Judging from recent comments, Obama apparently would pay no price, bear no burden, forsake any hardship, support any foe and oppose any friend that wished to pursue liberty. Kennedy understood that evil exists in the world. He saw it in World War II as his generation defeated the evil that gripped Europe and Japan. And he witnessed it as president when Nikita Khrushchev approved the building of the Berlin Wall and the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, acts that flowed from Khrushchev's perception that the young president was weak and inexperienced.
Obama thinks he can negotiate with evil and transform evil into something else. Initially his foreign policy platform was a naive pledge to meet "unconditionally" with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and other nations dominated by dictators. In recent days he has changed his tune somewhat. He would still meet with the heads of these mini evil empires without preconditions, but "there must be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda."
This leads to an important question: On what basis does a free nation negotiate with nations that are not free? Does Obama expect leaders who got where they are by undemocratic, even violent means, to embrace press freedom, religious liberty, political pluralism and rights for women? What would evil leaders demand of him? Any concession given to dictators, who are not known for keeping their promises, would surely result in the United States being taken less seriously and contribute to the undermining of our national security.
In his recent speech to the Israeli Knesset, President Bush pointedly noted that evil cannot be accommodated, negotiated with, pampered, or appeased. It must be opposed and defeated.
Obama's "strategy" for dealing with evil is the progeny of a secular age that sees everything bad as curable through counseling, good intentions masquerading as wishful thinking and/or pharmaceutical intervention. Prosperity and a sense of entitlement have dulled our senses to what evil looks like. These days, evil is the political party to which you don't belong and the ideology to which you do not subscribe.
Evil has a definition. Dictionary.com calls it: "morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked." There is a presumption contained in this definition. It is that a standard exists by which evil (and its opposite, good) may be judged. Too many of us have been taught in government schools and by contemporary culture that such notions belong to another, less sophisticated era. In the Internet age "evil" has become extinct.
One need only consider the flaunted immorality of "Sex and the City" to get the point. Women my grandmother would have labeled "sluts" are now regarded as New York sophisticates who change men as rapidly as they change clothes, during the short breaks between sexual trysts when they bother to wear clothes at all.
In place of an immutable standard, it is in self we trust, not God (Heaven, "if it exists," forbid!)
Obama's only foreign policy strategy seems to be diplomacy, not the defeat of evil. Such an approach when not supported by a credible threat of military power is bound to encourage more evil, not less. Obama debunks the value of experience, claiming the experience of President Bush and John McCain got us into the lengthy Iraq War. That war didn't start in Iraq and it won't end there, even if our objectives are achieved. Those objectives are closer to being realized than they were a year ago, but Obama and his fellow Democrats cannot acknowledge progress because they are preoccupied with victory at the polls more than victory over evil.
Recently, The Washington Times carried a story by Rowan Scarborough that quoted intelligence officials who believe terrorist attacks could occur in the early month's of the next president's administration. Terrorists attacked in February 1993 just two months after Bill Clinton's Inauguration and again on Sept. 11, 2001, less than eight months after George W. Bush became president.
The central question for voters ought to be this: who do we want in the White House should another terrorist attack occur; one who seeks to negotiate with evil, or one who is a warrior and wants to crush it?
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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