The Son Summons 'the better angels of our nature'

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Mar 20, 2003 12:00 AM

And so the son, summoning "the better angels of our nature," will finish the task the father began. The son will accomplish the task in consort with key colleagues from the first Bush administration - notably Secretary of State Colin Powell, the self-described "reluctant warrior" who was the father's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

George Bush will do it - his country will do it, his troops (principally) will do it - with a majority of his citizens' support. He will do it with an October resolution in hand approving (House 296-133, Senate 77-23) the use of force against Saddam Hussein. He will do it with a unanimous UN Security Council vote in November (plus 17 UN resolutions during the past dozen years) promising "serious consequences" absent Saddamite compliance - everybody in the UN house, even every diplomat, understanding "serious consequences" to mean, if necessary, war.

He will do it - WE will do it - in coalition with 45 countries loudly or quietly lending a hand. It is "a coalition of the willing" - a coalition consisting of Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, and numerous others fighting or recently freed from Soviet or quasi-Communist yoke. It is a coalition disparaged by a supercilious few as somehow deficient because it lacks historically accommodationist France, historically bellicose Germany, Russia with 22 million Muslims (all three nations having sold Saddam the hardware and software to make his weapons), and a China that long term likely will challenge America and Islam for dominance in a latter-day "Pax Romana."

We will do it and, thereby, conclude the phase of the larger terror war that began with the Gulf War 12 years ago - a war that made possible (1) the deaths of hundreds of thousands by Saddam's various despicable means; (2) enormities against American/civilized interests such as the World Trade Center (1993), the Khobar Towers, the Palestinian intifada, embassies and public halls, the U.S.S. Cole, Bali, 9/11, and maybe Oklahoma City; and rendered necessary (3) the assault on Saddam now getting under way.

Those who say America has not fashioned the "right" coalition do not fully appreciate what self-defense requires in this new world of borderless terror - what self-preservation, the highest moral imperative, really means. They do not appreciate the enervation that has infected certain former European powers. They do not appreciate the sanctimonious Lilliput the United Nations has become. They do not appreciate that the fierce anti-Americanism festering within them works hand-in-glove with the belligerentcose xenophobia the Koran preaches against "infidels" among whom Islamists number them as well.

Nor do they appreciate that in preferring the failed containment of Saddam to liberation, they not only are rejecting liberty for the Iraqi people but also are acquiescing to restrictions on the freedom that is their own. They do not appreciate the absence of morality in doing nothing against demonstrable evil. Evidently, they do not fully appreciate the obligations implicit in being one's "brother's keeper" or in John Donne's "no man is an island."

9/11 awakened this nation; George Bush set his course that has led - among other destinations - back to Saddam. The son trumps the father; he is his mother's son, too. This President Bush is as good a man but possessing still higher values, stronger conviction, better understanding of what must be done, and truer grit. He is even Churchillian, with - equally surprisingly - an equally Churchillian Tony Blair, who, during the seminal Tuesday votes in Parliament symbolically wore Bush's signature blue tie.

We shall prevail in this round of the new terror war that may - likely will - plod endlessly on. As Macbeth said, "If it is done when it is done, then it were well it were done quickly." We're coming. The American eagle is on its way, with friends. In the president's words Monday, key UN members "share our assessment of the danger but not our resolve to meet it" - and meet it we will, though we have done "nothing to invite this threat."

Thus the son has issued the summons at last, recalling Lincoln in his first inaugural: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."