The maximum danger to America is not from terrorists but from terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. Al Qaeda's murderous assault of September 11 was appalling. But being brutally objective, America could withstand several such attacks. However, assaults by nuclear or biological weapons could bring us to our knees. Scores of millions could be killed, and we could stop functioning as an economic and cultural entity.
It is that supreme danger that has correctly riveted the mind and energy of President Bush. And it is that fact that is being almost entirely ignored by the politicians and the media in their current obsession with the search for Iraq's WMD.
To defend against that doomsday horror, the president announced the necessary affirmative strategy in his State of the Union in 2002 -- Go after the weapons (and the rogue nations or others that make them), and go after the delivery system: the terrorists. (And, as a defensive measure, improve our homeland security and prepare to provide relief for the victims of any terrorist attack that gets through.)
The terrorists are the more elusive target because they have no fixed address. Running them all to ground will be a constant, generational task, mitigated only by changing the culture that breeds such monsters.
But neutralizing the sources of possible WMD is a project of more or less fixed dimensions (although al Qaeda is reported to be trying to concoct their own biological weapons).
Countries that have the capacity, and are reasonably suspected of potentially being willing to transfer them to terrorists, number only six: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Libya and Syria. Whether or not any of those six suspect rogue countries currently have large stockpiles of such weapons is irrelevant to America's security challenge. They must all be neutralized as threats: one way or another.
Now, we are in the election year, and it is time to judge the president on his performance in executing on his anti-terrorism strategy. How has he done in running down terrorists? How many rogue states are still threats? Have we made reasonable progress on homeland security?
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.