after me: Osama bin Laden is a dead man.
of the manic wave of emotion that the nation has been riding for
the last week is that when it ebbs away, we may be particularly
susceptible to the depressive voices of doubt and complication:
We don't do mountains; we can't track down a "shadowy"
network that has none of the traditional infrastructure of a state;
we aren't ready for the casualties and time this war will entail.
you follow the logic of various pieces in the press over the last
few days, the "nothing option" begins to seem the only
reasonable alternative: We can't undertake any large-scale bombing
in the Middle East because this would be counterproductive and immoral;
we can't take out Saddam specifically because we supposedly already
tried that once and it didn't work out; and, finally, even getting
bin Laden will be difficult because of his elusiveness and the Afghani
You can just
hear the pundit class talking itself out of any intensive military
action. (Maureen Dowd will probably be back on the side of the Euro-appeasers
before the month is out.)
All of this
is "realism" as an excuse for lack of resolve since
the real hard work requires a moral and intellectual commitment
many commentators won't be willing to undertake. It means welcoming
the frank application of American military power, acknowledging
the superiority of American civilization to the corrupt and backward
political culture that has attacked it, and supporting unilateral
American action when necessary.
is what's difficult for that portion of the political elite that
is wedded to cultural relativism and a low-grade anti-Americanism.
The rest is relatively easy.
ourselves as much is not simply a matter of maintaining patriotic
ardor. A nation's attitude matters. What it tells itself about its
capabilities has an important influence on what those capabilities
Between the two world wars, the French were, in a sense, psychologically
damaged. After the slaughter of the trenches, they so abhorred the
idea of taking the offensive that they crouched behind the Maginot
Line and were unwilling to deal Hitler an offensive blow
even when he was at his most vulnerable, during his remilitarization
of the Rhineland in 1936.
So, let's remember.
the Atlantic wall in 1944: Osama bin Laden is a dead man.
years ago! put a man on the moon: Osama bin Laden is a dead
Saddam's army in a 100-hour ground war: Osama bin Laden is a dead
It may take
some time and dirty tactics and unsavory temporary alliances, but
given our might, technology, and determination, it's inevitable
all four of his wives will be widowed. Osama bin Laden is
a dead man.
The New Republic's Jonathan Chait has written a good-natured,
if earnest, letter
to complain that I have quoted him too many times to the effect
that the lockboxes remember them? are an "artificial
device." Chait worries that readers might get the wrong idea
about his position from this selective quotation. And he has a point:
Most people would have concluded from the fact that the lockboxes
are an "artificial device," that the Democrats' howls
about "raids" on Social Security and Medicare were risible
and demagogic, and that other things whether restoring the
military or stimulating the economy should take precedence. They
would be mistaken. Chait, who is a shrewd (if, in my opinion, often
wrong-headed) writer, had many complicated and subtle
reasons for honoring this "artificial device" (oops,
there I go again). Suffice it to say that none of this matters,
because everyone now is willing to abandon the pretense of believing
in the lockboxes because, among others things, they were all along
what Chait has called . . . well, better not say it.
Thanks to everyone who checked out the website of the marching band
affiliated with the National
Association for the Prevention of Starvation, which appeared,
as if heaven-sent, on the streets of New York City on
Saturday. The wife of the bandleader called from Huntsville,
Alabama, yesterday to say how much they appreciated all the comments
people sent. For thousands of New Yorkers last weekend, NAPS provided
what will be a lovely memory amid all the despair.