At War with Being at War

October 1, 2007

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman must be awfully tired of the global war on terror (GWOT). In his column “9/11 Is Over,” he laments that “we’ve become ‘The United States of Fighting Terrorism.’ … I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12.”

Alrighty, then. Let’s just declare the war over.

Liberals have tried to convince us they are hawks on the GWOT but that they just don’t believe Iraq is part of it. They want to go back into Afghanistan with greater force, or perhaps into Pakistan and capture Osama bin Laden, who President Bush “let escape” at Tora Bora.

Many conservatives have long been skeptical about the Democrats’ claim to be hawkish on the GWOT. As I’ve detailed before, Democrats have opposed President Bush at every turn in the GWOT — not just on Iraq.

They’ve scoffed at President Bush’s moral clarity in depicting the GWOT as a struggle between the forces of good and evil. They’ve tried to undermine the Patriot Act, which was designed to break down the walls between our intelligence agencies and help us “connect the dots” to prevent future terrorist attacks.

They’ve opposed — and exposed for terrorist consumption — our efforts to track terrorists’ finances. They’ve tried to sabotage our terrorist surveillance program, fraudulently labeling it as “domestic spying,” though it has probably saved American lives and might have, had it been in place then, enabled us to prevent 9/11.

They have opposed tough interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, though some of the methods they’ve opposed have demonstrably saved American lives. They’ve accused the Bush administration of systematically torturing enemy prisoners, though such false allegations diminish our image in the world and inflame potential terrorist recruits, which these same liberals profess they want to avoid at all costs. They insist on full-blown constitutional rights for “the worst of the worst” at Gitmo.

In the face of all this evidence, the left says it is better equipped to protect America’s national security. Maybe some have even convinced themselves it’s true, having temporarily suppressed their inner antiwar demons. But apparently this artificial suppression is too much for some liberals to sustain. Friedman’s inner Jane Fonda is now exploding to the surface. He’s tired of us acting like we are at war, and he isn’t going to take it anymore, reality be damned.

“9/11 has made us stupid,” says Friedman. “I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.”

Friedman admits that “we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. … Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: ‘Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.’ … You may think Guantanamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration.”

Well, Tom, if they think so, why don’t you use your “paper of record” megaphone to disabuse them of that abominable falsehood? Perhaps it’s because you agree with them, since you say, “I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantanamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantanamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.”

Like a good liberal, Friedman expresses no concern for the consequences of closing down Gitmo or for where these violent murderers will be transferred. Practicality doesn’t matter. He just wants the war to be over.

“We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy,” says Friedman. “Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12 … “

Why didn’t we think of that? We don’t need this war. It’s bringing us down. It’s just so 9/11.

Many have warned that liberals — despite their denials — don’t believe we’re really at war. They can wish it away, just like they can wish away that part of human nature that recoils against socialism, but the reality remains unchanged.

In the meantime, we must pray that adults continue to steer the ship of state in these perilous times, recognizing and confronting the real dangers and real enemies we face and leading us to make such temporary sacrifices as may be necessary to protect ourselves and safeguard our precious liberties.