Diana West

Quick -- somebody promote Lt. Cmdr. Erik Horner for good instincts. "We not only have a right to self-defense but also an obligation to self-defense," the second-in-command officer of the USS Underwood said, referring to the surrender by 15 British sailors in Iraqi waters to Iranian forces last week. "(The British) had every right to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't you guys defend yourselves?'"

Better to ask why the larger Western world didn't teach these sailors to defend themselves, both as their personal right and their societal obligation. And speaking of societal obligations, could someone please explain why the sailor-mother of a 3-year-old -- now imprinted on history for performing the hostage-squirm in a Muslim headscarf -- was required on this mission in the first place? But I digress (sort of).

When a civilization no longer inculcates an overriding attachment to its own survival, well, it no longer survives as a civilization. In peacetime, the disintegration appears more theoretical. In wartime, the holes really begin to show.

Sticking with Britain as an example, when Tony Blair long ago brought forth his "Cool Britannia," multicultural, domestic agenda, the ensuing debate was a "culture war," not a real war. It might have politically divided Britain, but the country seemed to remain intact. When the government of Britain recently responded to a recognized act of war against its military personnel by threatening diplomacy, a kind of emptiness to the whole British enterprise was exposed.

Or was it? At a certain point, people probably stop realizing they're even looking at holes. This is something that comes through in another story, not about victims in uniform, but about a bona fide hero. An American hero. An American hero of demonstrable bravery who was recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Britain -- the first American to be so honored since World War II.

While serving as an exchange officer with an English Naval Air Squadron in Iraq, Marine Maj. William D. Chesarek Jr. was flying a British Lynx helicopter accompanying British forces on the ground. It was June 2006, just one month after another British Lynx had been shot down by an Iranian-smuggled missile, killing five on board. Maj. Chesarek realized British forces below him were under attack. The attackers, according to a report on marinecorpstimes.com, were "using large hostile crowds for cover."


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).