A national political campaign allows a country to focus its attention on critical matters, make decisions about the future and express what?s important. No doubt our presidential election someday will include serious discussions about Iraq, Medicare, the Patriot Act and more.
Meanwhile, a national campaign is underway in Canada. And it puts the lie to the oft-stated claim that the United States is feared internationally.
NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory hauled out this sad charge during President Bush?s recent visit to Europe. ?In much of the world, people fear the United States,? Gregory claimed, ?but, particularly after the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, [they] appear to have lost faith in its ideals.?
Well, that may be what people in other countries say, but it?s not what they believe. If Gregory were correct, we?d see fear manifested in Canada. After all, they?re our immediate neighbor and would be on the front lines if the U.S. started to throw its weight around.
Think of it this way: Once, Greece and Rome possessed great military power. Both invaded their neighbors. When the Ottoman Empire had great military power in the 1500s, it invaded its neighbors. When France had great military power in the 1800s, it invaded its neighbors. The Soviet Union held half of Europe for generations -- because it could.
But we have great power, and we?re benevolent. If we decided to, we could conquer the entire planet. Even if all the militaries of all the world combined, we?d still defeat them. Easily.
We?d shoot down every enemy plane, sink every enemy ship, and kill as many enemy soldiers as necessary before they all surrendered. And it?s not just atomic weapons. We could win, and would win, with only conventional weapons.
This sort of restraint is new. It?s never existed before, and, based on history, it should inspire fear around the world. But it doesn?t. Canada?s the proof.
Canadians will choose a new government on June 28. One key issue is defense spending. The governing Liberal party wants to add some 5,000 troops to Canada?s undermanned force, still leaving the country with only about 60,000 people in uniform.
The more hawkish Conservative party has stirred controversy, because it wants to bring Canada?s troop levels up to 80,000. That would cost about $4.8 billion Canadian dollars over four years. Even this small amount is considered controversial, although a study by Queen?s University has warned that if Canadians don?t vastly increase spending, they?ll have virtually no military within 15 years.
By contrast, the U.S. has more than 1.4 million people on active duty and plans to spend more than $400 billion on defense just next year.
Now, some will wonder why we would ever want to invade Canada. Well, that?s simple. After all, leftists assure us that the war in Iraq was all about oil. Well, if we were willing to send our boys halfway around the world to fight -- and die -- for oil, surely we?d be willing to send them to much a safer, northern clime.
Canada is already the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Plus, tar-sand deposits in Alberta contain an estimated 1.6 trillion barrels of oil. Surely Halliburton would love to get its greedy hands on that. It?s there, with nothing but an undefended 4,000-mile border between it and us.
And if the entire Canadian military geared up to stop us, how long could they hold out? Half a day? Half an hour? Half a minute? It surely would be a suicide mission.
Simply put, if Canadians feared us, they?d be ramping up military spending. Similarly, if the French feared us, they wouldn?t block all of our president?s plans for Iraq. If the Germans feared us, their prime minister wouldn?t run for -- and win -- re-election by bashing the U.S.
In fact, the entire Western world knows it can scrimp on defense, because we will defend them. And we will never invade or conquer them.
We?re unique. We?re special. We?re the great hope of mankind. That?s why terrorists seek to destroy us -- because they fear and detest our freedoms and realize those freedoms eventually will be spread everywhere, because freedom is the only idea that really works. Their idea, a Muslim caliphate, has already been tried and has already failed.
There?s no historical precedent for the idea of the United States. But when our great grandchildren sit down to write history, our ideas will seem so elemental they?ll say, ?Why didn?t people think of that before?? And they?ll realize David Gregory got it exactly backward. People don?t fear the U.S. They depend on us for political and moral guidance.