Random reflections on 8/10, the London foiling of something on the order of a 9/11 repeat. . . .
President Bush termed the incident “a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom.” He is a man clearly chastened by 9/11 and locked on to fighting this insidious terror.
Yet America — the Free World, the West — is beset by a monstrous cancer whose fanatic aggressiveness remains broadly underappreciated. If the president has erred, perhaps he did so in his post-9/11 comments that in this war Americans should live their lives normally and go on as though nothing had changed — when in fact 9/11 should have changed just about everything.
War requires numerous things — notably: a sense of shared sacrifice; temporary suspension of certain freedoms in the interest of national security; energized Manhattan-project, Apollo-program focus to attain, say, energy independence; mobilization of a national will to win. Urging the nation to live in a la-la pre-9/11 mode undermines at the outset the success of required things.
The war spreads.
It may have begun with the assassination of Robert Kennedy or the shooting of the pope. Or with the Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. Or with the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center. Or with the Achille Lauro. Or with the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Or with the extinction of life over Lockerbie.
It continued, of course, in the horror of 9/11 and with: Tanzania; the USS Cole; Iraq, Afghanistan, and the relentless assaults — suicide and otherwise — on Israel; bombings in Bali, Madrid, London I; and, now, the attempted London II. U.S. authorities have broken up countless terror enterprises, evidently including earlier this summer the Florida-based one intending to blow up tunnels under the Hudson River connecting New Jersey to New York.
How do the faint of heart or the insufficiently sensitized respond? Let’s see:
By calling for more negotiations with North Korea about its missiles and nukes.
By passing meaningless U.N. resolutions about Iran’s nuclear program.
By commending the metier — verily the courage — of the French.
By siding with Arafat, or Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, or Hezbollah — or whatever the terrorist group du jour — and appealing to Israel to relent and withdraw.
By professing outrage at administration terrorist surveillance and detention programs.
By deploring the alleged excesses of the U.S. military, and libeling (Congressman John Murtha) a Marine squadron leader at Haditha, and blasting everything from military policy in the Pentagon to military practice in the field even unto alleged lack of planning for the end game.
By opposing practically every administration initiative (e.g., ANWR and offshore drilling) for energy independence.
By stymieing practically every effort to address illegal immigration.
By demanding the administration commit to withdrawing American forces from Iraq by a certain date, the end of the year, now. This includes, of course, many of those distinguished legislators who voted for sending those forces to Iraq before they voted against it — or something.
On 9/11 terrorists got through; on 8/10 or shortly thereafter they likely would have were it not for the diligence and luck of the beloved Brits. One day, terrorists will get through again — and again. Still, a poll conducted a month ago finds Americans less worried about terrorism than about personal debt.
In the poll conducted for the Center for American Progress, about double the number (or more) were concerned about a secure retirement, identity theft and not having enough money to pay their bills than they were about terrorism or being hurt or killed in a terrorist attack. So as of a month ago, Americans were following President Bush’s post-9/11 advice and living their lives normally — anguishing over how to wrestle that dratted Visa monkey off their back.
London II should tell us to wake up and smell the coffee. And, for instance, to:
— Fly not only without nail scissors but hand lotion, as well.
— Build a sense of sacrifice for the greater good.
— Embrace a broad array of legal surveillance and monitoring, even those meaning temporary suspension of rights until the war is won.
— Do whatever it takes to achieve energy independence.
— Nail illegal immigration pronto.
— Adopt a program of compulsory universal service — up to two years max — for all men and women 18-23, with a front-end military component.
— Take out those nuclear and missile sites in North Korea and Iran.
For all those initiatives and more, it’s time. It’s time for sacrifice — a national sense of sacrifice — too.