There was also the decision to back away from a resolution that would have put the other imminent nuclear threat – that posed by Islamofascist Iran – before the UN Security Council for urgent action. Similarly, with the exception of periodic warnings from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about Syrian contributions to instability in Iraq, the Bush Administration seems to have decided to give Damascus a pass.
Then there is Saudi Arabia. As Senator Jon Kyl (Republican of Arizona) will demonstrate in yet another congressional hearing on Wednesday, the kingdom continues to contribute vast sums and cannon fodder to the terrorist organizations we are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other places. Yet, the Administration’s party line remains that Riyadh is “cooperating” fully with Washington and a reliable partner in the War on Terror.
In much the same see-no-evil vein, Secretary Powell actually declared last week that “U.S. relations with China are the best they have been since President Nixon first visit” in 1972. This despite evidence that the Communist Chinese remain very much the “strategic competitors” the Bush Administration confronted on taking office, thanks to, among other things, their continuing nuclear build-up, proliferation, threats to Taiwan, life-support for North Korea, trade-devastating currency manipulations and strategic mischief-making in our own hemisphere and elsewhere.
How can one square the seeming disconnect between the firm and robust things Mr. Bush says and what his Administration is actually doing on so many fronts – a disconnect unlikely to go unnoticed by our enemies?
A possible – and deeply worrying – explanation is that the President is heeding the counsel reportedly advanced of late by his political handlers. Published accounts say that the most influential of these, White House advisor Karl Rove, has warned that there must be “no more wars” for the remainder of Mr. Bush’s term. Grover Norquist, who Mr. Rove allows to portray himself as a close ally, has opined publicly that “[Wars] are expensive and a drain politically. They are not political winners.” According to Mr. Norquist, it follows that, if Mr. Bush persists in engaging in them, he could doom himself to being a one-term president.
Further evidence that the Administration is now following what might be called the “No More War in ’04” strategy was obtained last week when an unnamed senior official told a reporter that the North Koreans could “breath easy because we aren’t going to do anything to them for fourteen months.”
As President Bush noted last Sunday, however, the alternative to our being on offense against our terrorist enemies and those who shelter, arm or otherwise support them is to be on defense. Just because we find war to be inconvenient or a “drain politically” does not mean we can avoid fighting them. It simply means we will likely wind up having to wage them, in the President’s words, “again on our own streets, in our own cities.”
If Mr. Bush wishes to be taken seriously – by either our foes or the American electorate – he would be well-advised to make clear that there is no daylight between his rhetoric and his policies concerning the War on Terror. After all, at stake is not only his presidency, but the national security.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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