Paul Greenberg

He has a great gift, our secretary of state, that of compressing the greatest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought. Like appeasement, now showing under the title Reset. And we're all supposed to pretend that what he's saying matters as we go down the same old road, passing old ruins and now new ones in the making as the remake of this costume drama continues. All our current president needs is a wing collar, a black umbrella, and a microphone into which he can proclaim Peace in Our Time, and an Oscar would be assured.

Once again the West marks time as aggressors march on, and one outpost of freedom after another crumbles before the Tide of the Future, which looks suspiciously like the tide of the past. The forces of freedom await a leader -- if not another Churchill, then at least a Reagan, but none is in sight. And so one red line after another is crossed without any real response, or even real shame on the part of those who drew it in disappearing ink.

. .

The latest national "defense" budget our president proposes shrinks American land forces down to pre-World War II levels, but it isn't supposed to matter. Chuck Hagel, our esteemed secretary of defense, said so. Not since a forgettable like Louis Johnson was in charge of stripping away American defenses preparatory to the Korean War has incompetence been so obvious. And dangerous. Some still don't see any connection between an increasingly disarmed America and an increasingly disorderly world. And the rest of us are supposed to be shocked, shocked to learn that old aggressors are moving into the vacuum left by another Grand American Retreat from the world.

. .

Let there be no mistaking what is happening. "This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

Those words were spoken in the House of Commons in 1938 by a long-ignored parliamentarian whose foresight would not be recognized till he was called on to take the helm years later in what would prove his and Britain's finest hour. But, sad to say, those words are just as relevant now. Others will now rise to echo them, but it will not matter if the spirit behind them is not rekindled.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.