Pax Americana

Posted: Mar 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Within the first hours of the war, Iraq fired Scud missiles -- that Hans Blix could not find and Saddam claimed not to have -- at American and British troops.

Don't expect the antiwar crowd to notice this. Up to the very last minute, they were arguing that inspections had "worked." Having been proved so wrong, they will not reconsider. They will instead do what they always do -- assume that the world will forget and move on to the next thing.

For those not blinded by America hatred, this is a moment to reflect on the great good luck that continues to bless the United States of America.

Who would have guessed that the amiable but unprepossessing son of George H.W. Bush -- a prankster and overly enthusiastic drinker in his youth, a man (like Moses?) who often tripped over his words -- would become a president of such vision and high purpose?

He does not choose the easy path. Again and again during his presidency, he has ignored the chorus of conventional wisdom and charted his own path. In this, he is very like Ronald Reagan. Think of the tax cut. It's small beer compared to war and peace, but the contours of his personality were clear then. Though the Democrats (who then controlled the Senate) and most of the press decried the tax cut as unfair and irresponsible, the president persisted -- confidently assuring Congress that the tax cut

was like Goldilocks' porridge, neither too big nor too small, but just right. It passed.

But it was on foreign policy that this president's vision has proved particularly sure and wise. From the moment those planes struck our nation, the president perceived that we were in a new war and understood just whom we were fighting. Many liberals did not and do not. They insisted that the terror attacks made the task of creating a Palestinian state all the more urgent. The president declined to buckle to this conventional wisdom. They urged that attacks on Afghanistan would ignite the Muslim world against us and would in any case result in military quagmire if not defeat. Bush stood his ground. And they argued vehemently that a war to topple Saddam Hussein could be legitimate only if France and Cameroon approved. But the war has begun -- and it carries with it the good wishes and cooperation of 35 other nations.

George Bush is undertaking a world-changing policy. Like Reagan, who also sought to redraw the map, he is proving himself an able tribune of American interests and security, as well as an evangelist of freedom. Like surprisingly few others (and no one in the State Department it sometimes seems), President Bush understands the link between extending freedom and making the world safer for Americans. It is no accident that the incubator of anti-American ferocity and terror comes from the least free nations on earth. The conventional wisdom dictates that we seek to appease those nations and the terrorists they harbor by a) pressuring Israel, and b) seeking guidance and direction from the United Nations.

President Bush is doing something so completely at odds with the way things are usually done that few have yet grasped the breadth of it. He is pursuing a Pax Americana. This peace will not be the false peace that flows from appeasement, but the true peace that flows from victory. The conduct of this war should make America proud. It is fought reluctantly and with every possible care for civilians.

But the peace will be George Bush's best legacy. For despite the bleating of the left that this war was fought "for oil," America will not touch a single oil well except to put out the fires and hand over the oil to the Iraqi people. And in the wake of victory, America will help to create the first democracy in the Arab world. This is the first step in tugging the region into the 21st century, and thereby extinguishing the terrorist wildfire.

The man who slept through many classes at Yale and partied the nights away stands revealed as a profound and great leader who will reshape the world for the better. The United States is lucky once again.