As we enter another year of extreme international danger, the one threat that solely is within America's power to reduce or eliminate is our lack of national unity.
There may be no more agonizing weakness for a nation than major internal division during a time of war, because, unlike the conduct of foreign nations or forces, a lack of internal unity is exclusively our own collective fault.
Particularly for a country as powerful and robustly provisioned as America, it is also the weakness that leads to all other weaknesses. If we had national unity, we could quickly make up for any current military manpower shortages (after Pearl Harbor, young American men rushed to sign up, and the draft was overwhelmingly seen as a needed part of our national defense). If we had national unity, we would not have a prominent national leader and Marine veteran such as Congressman John Murtha advising our young men and women not to join the military.
If we had national unity, government employees and the major media would not think it their patriotic duty to leak or publish classified war secrets. (Only traitors or the careless would be releasing such information, as opposed to today's perhaps subjectively well-intentioned, if objectively misguided, releasers of such information.)
If we had national unity, Congress and the president could be motivated and able to set spending priorities. But today, no interest feels any obligation to give up a single dollar of the taxpayer's largesse. Everybody is getting theirs -- and let the national deficit and debt be dammed. If the war or national defense effort is short-changed -- well, about half the country won't see it that way.
Most damaging of all, America's loud, nasty and publicly displayed disunity heartens our enemies around the world -- as well it should. Whether the enemy is a terrorist operative in Fallujah, Frankfurt or Falls Church, Va., he knows that defeating our will is the supreme strategic goal. Once we are more concerned with defeating our domestic opponents than our foreign enemies, the downside potential for America is almost unlimited. The enemy now lives in justifiable hope -- as we slip into increasingly justifiable despair.
The foregoing is not an argument against dissent. It is an argument for voluntarily persuading our fellow Americans of the nature of the danger and the broad strategy for defeating it. Clearly, it is a job too important to be left to the politicians.
We could wish that President Bush and the last two congresses could have found the means to build that national wartime unity. There is surely blame enough to go around.
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.