George C. Scott's famous opening monologue in the movie Patton was considered by some to be an anti-war spoof, but his commentary on Americans backing a winner was right on the money.
Today, with the United States and its allies fighting the War on Terror on several fronts, Democratic operatives are hitting the airwaves with a vengeance, seeking credibility for their mantra that America is helplessly and hopelessly mired in an unwinnable war in Iraq, and that Afghanistan is backsliding into totalitarianism.
Most of the nation's media may be focused on Democratic primaries in the US, and whether anti-war candidates will win in November, but it still is a good time to take a look at what we have accomplished thus far and what remains ahead of us.
I have written before that I believe we are locked in a generations-long struggle with terrorism as applied by fundamentalist Muslim extremists. They believe there is only one true religion, and their version of that religion is the only true version. In their minds, everyone is required to accept their version of spiritual matters and its accompanying social order.
Anyone who disagrees dies, usually slowly and horribly, showing just how quickly their version of the ultimate deity can change from beneficent to vengeful. There supposedly are caveats in their religion to create inclusiveness for those born outside the tenets of their brand of Islam, but in practice these caveats disappear and are replaced with a racially and ethnically biased exclusivity.
I don't believe this version is going to prevail, simply because the numbers are in favor of those who oppose extremism, and because there is a point in the human experience where people en masse say enough is enough and put an end to despots. It will happen in this current War on Terror, but it hasn't happened yet.
There are many reasons for this, but in America I believe the primary reason is that the general public either hasn't been adequately kept up to date on the extent of the danger the country faces, or haven't been adequately informed on the successes that have been racked up in the continuing efforts to thwart those dangers.
Any emerging democracy, the United States included, and perhaps notably, must face challenges that change with each improvement and advancement. In Iraq the current challenge is dealing with age-old animosities between Muslim factions, and the intent of some people on both sides to fuel these differences, all the way to civil war if possible.
Obviously, those who are engaging in bombings, kidnappings and assassinations think that if they can touch off a civil war, their side will win. Obviously, half of them are wrong, just from a military view point. All of them are wrong from the standpoint of their nation and the wider world community, because all will lose if the sectarian hatreds can't be controlled.
In the middle of this challenge stands the US military. The World Terrorist Media works hard to make it appear that American troops, aided by the British are isolated in this effort.
But the coalition working to help build a lasting democracy in Iraq has also included at various times since 2003 forces from Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, Thailand, Hungary, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Portugal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Italy, Norway, Spain, South Korea, Australia, Bulgaria, Georgia, El Salvador, Mongolia, Slovakia, and Japan to name just some of at least 38 countries that have contributed. The point is that the US is not alone in this endeavor, even if it is carrying the bulk of the load.
American politicians in the minority party are zealous in their attempts to portray the coalition as ineffective, not because it is, but because the politicians hope this will catch on with the American public and propel those on the outside to majority status in the fall.
Herein lies the rub. Many Americans still view war as army versus army in a geographically defined theater where in a relatively short period, usually less than five years, one side or the other prevails. They haven't developed a national consciousness that understands the long-term nature of the global War on Terror and how long it takes to defeat an inhumane and vicious ideology.
This was never more apparent than in Vietnam where not only did American and allied troops dominate on the military scene, but also had driven the political elements virtually to the point of surrender. But American politicians bent to the breezes stirred by the pro-communist American media and ultimately abandoned both the military and political efforts, leaving millions to be slaughtered by the communists and encouraging a new generation of would-be tyrants to launch increasingly bold and effective attacks on American property and citizens.
A casual observation of the current tactics from the minority party and the World Terrorist Media that abet the political extremists prompts the question of just what they hope to accomplish. There never is a discussion of a better way to do things, only their belief that the current effort isn't working and should be abandoned. This appears to be fueled as much by their hatred of George Bush and his administration, successful as it has been on so many fronts, as by any real desire to develop and launch a better plan.
It doesn't take much effort to realize that there is no substance behind these claims, only a burning desire to regain the reins of power, presumably to recreate the conditions that led minor tyrants and despots to attack us in the first place.
How do we offset this? One way is by creating an office within the administration specifically to produce and distribute news from the War on Terror that gives the public an unvarnished and extensive truth to consider. I am not talking about a propaganda office; that already exists in the World Terrorist Media and is distributed widely by the American media, or the Drive By Media as Rush Limbaugh would say.
No, I am talking here about a group of professional communicators with both print and electronic news background who can generate daily articles and videos of coalition successes on and off the battlefield. An office that would show American and coalition servicemen and women receiving medals for bravery, for instance, much as the WTM shows only those arrested or charged with crimes.
This office would prepare visuals, showing for instance the extent of the pacified areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, and comparing the violence in the battleground cities to the country overall. It would do interviews with Iraqis who are happy to relate the improvements in their lives, much as the WTM only interviews those who are encouraged to complain.
This office also would give America real time updates on terrorist threats and trends, and do in-depth analyses of where we stand in the war, what we face and what we can expect in the future.
Americans aren't stupid by any means, regardless of what the WTM believes. But they need as many facts as possible to make informed decisions. Even when Henry Kissinger and the US Congress were abandoning Vietnam in the early 1970s, the American public was solidly behind the effort to bring the war to a victorious conclusion. History has shown that the American public knew far better how to handle that situation than all the so-called, self-anointed "experts" who betrayed a trusting ally.
Given facts and an opportunity to avail themselves of the facts on a regular basis, American voters will educate themselves in a way that can't be offset by myopic office seekers and irresponsible media outlets who manufacture news, photos and video events in the guise of providing public information.
Given sufficient information, I have the ultimate confidence in the ability of the American public to elect representatives who will actually do the job they were hired to do, and put their egos and career self-interests second, while the interests of America and the free world become their first priority. In short, given access to the facts, I believe in America's willingness and ability to win.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006