The economy is doing fine, but the stock market is slumping. So
far, the blame has rightly been placed on corporate corruption, dishonest
accounting practices and some ill-advised protectionist trade moves by the
Bush administration. But these, it seems, are only partly to blame.
A worrisome USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll reveals that only one in
three Americans believes the United States is now winning the war on
terrorism, with a full half saying the war is at a stalemate. Compare this
with last January, when two-thirds of the country said the United States was
winning the war.
Could it be that a lack of decisive follow-through in the global
war on terrorism is the single biggest problem facing the stock market and
the nation today? I believe it is.
There has been a big drop in the American spirit. The euphoria
surrounding the successful victory in Afghanistan has given way to a gnawing
fear that Osama bin Laden and his evil followers have survived and
regrouped, and are getting ready to hit us again. Sept. 11 may not be the
seminal event. A new calamity may befall us, one that will surely close our
businesses, shut our financial markets, block basic family security and
inflict unimagined pain on the nation. The down market is a manifestation of
the pained expressions on our faces.
President Bush's speech Monday set down the clear
democratic-reform principles necessary to change Palestine from a terrorist
safe-harbor into a true member of the family of nations. He correctly
delineated U.S. support for our democratic alley Israel and just as clearly
assigned the appropriate blame to Arafat's piece of the evil axis. He also
communicated the principles of free elections, representative government and
the rule of law to the other Middle Eastern states that fail on all these
counts. Bush wasn't only speaking to Iraq, Iran and Syria, but also to Saudi
Arabia, and perhaps even Egypt.
But these are only more words in this global and just war on
terror. The president must now execute and follow through in support of
these fine principles. There can be no hesitation. In dealing with Israel
and the PLA, there can be no return to the split-the-difference peace
processes that have failed completely in the past.
Even more, Bush must not allow Saddam Hussein and Osama bin
Laden to remain in play. That they are still around, poised to do
catastrophic mischief, is a huge factor in just how far American confidence
in this war has deteriorated.
To be sure, the greatest mistake Papa Bush ever made was leaving
Saddam Hussein in place. Weakened or not, he is still there -- and Americans
have never liked loose ends. With weapons of mass destruction at his
disposal, and through his financing of terrorism worldwide, Saddam is a
dangerous loose end.
Decisive shock therapy to revive the American spirit would
surely come with a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Why not begin with a large-scale
special-forces commando raid on the Iraqi oil fields? This will send a shot
across Saddam's bow -- an electrifying signal to all terrorist nations. The
message will be that the game is up. Surrender now, or you will be crushed
in a short while.
Meanwhile, Saddam's cash flow can be cut off. Oil is his only
crop, his single manufacture. Without money, there will be nothing left to
steal and nothing to use to pay off his cronies.
A couple of weeks later, a final assault on Baghdad can take
place. A small war, to use Wall Street Journal editorialist Max Boot's
lexicon, led by fast-moving special forces and leather-toughened Marines,
and assisted by high-tech precision bombs and air cover, can get the job
done. All-out war mobilization is unnecessary. Iraq will fall with much
less. At the same time, U.S. special forces must conduct a similar sweep to
root out bin Laden and the Al Qaeda supporters along the Pakistan/Afghan
In his key war speeches thus far -- the axis of evil designation
before Congress, the first-strike pre-emption speech at West Point and this
week's Palestine-directed statement of institution-building through the
principles of freedom -- Bush has kept democracy and a market economy
central to solving this world terrorism crisis. But statements of principle
only go so far. The spirit and security of the United States now require the
instrument of war.
The shock therapy of decisive war will elevate the stock market
by a couple thousand points. We will know that our businesses will stay
open, that our families will be safe and that our future will be unlimited.
The world will be righted in this life-and-death struggle to preserve our
values and our civilization. But to do all this, we must act.