Jewish World Review April 9, 2003 / 7 Nisan, 5763

Tony Blankley

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts | With Saddam's death not yet confirmed (as this column goes to print), where is Meinhardt Raabe when we need him?

Mr. Raabe played the part of the Munchkin coroner in "The Wizard of Oz," who, after observing the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy's house, famously sang: "As coroner, I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."

We need a statement like that for Saddam.

But if, as was reported Monday night, Saddam et fils were vaporized into dust, I suppose we may never be able to prove them dead at all. Which brings us to the trickiest decision of the war now facing the president: Whether, when and how to declare victory. When I mentioned to a White House staffer a few days ago that I was looking forward to the victory parade down Constitution Avenue (as we had in 1991 after the first Persian Gulf War), he scrunched his nose, telling me that would offend the Arab world. I hope that is not the considered and final opinion of the Administration.

I don't want to offend the Arab world, and I understand why our soldiers were instructed not to display the American Flag on Iraqi soil and recognize the larger international political objectives for which the war fighting was merely the predicate. I can be as sophisticated, analytical, knowingly skeptical and as aware of the great dangers and challenges facing us in the Middle East as the next Washington commentator. But this is a human moment -- and we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts.

Something magnificent has been accomplished by the courage and skill of our military people. We need to make vivid and memorialize something beyond individual impressions and opinions. This is a moment of collective reality that should be described and understood. Importantly, there should be an act of catharsis: a purification that brings about spiritual renewal.

But, it seems as if the rolling start to the war will be mirrored by a rolling end -- the birth of a new government emerging, blade-by-blade, from the decaying corpse of the old. I suspect there may be genius in this plan. The absence of apparent historic discontinuities minimizes the psychological opportunities for resistance. Iraqis just keep going to bed and getting up as, seamlessly, democracy emerges. It is the obliteration of history -- even as we are making history. Brilliant. Bizarre. Disconcerting.

A victory parade here in America well may be counterproductive to our policy objectives in the Middle East. But I don't want our honored dead to be consigned to the memory hole. I can't look at the newspaper pictures of those young Marines and soldiers who sacrificed their lives that my family and I might live. They look like my teenage boys and their friends. How can these warriors -- both the living and the fallen -- be so young, so brave and so able? How can we not stop to honor them? Shakespeare wrote of how the English heroes about to go to battle against the French at Agincourt should be remembered: "And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."

War is a sordid business, made necessary by human imperfection. We ask our finest citizens to go forth and soil themselves in the killing of other humans for our nation's sake. We ask these young men and women to perform a profoundly personal act -- to be the agency of death and destruction. We owe them a profoundly personal moment of public honor -- even if they say they just want to go home. (One of the great open wounds of our country is the feeling of many of our Vietnam vets, who were not honored on their return.) And we -- the non-warriors -- need that moment, too. This is neither jingoism, nor triumphalism. It is not even, particularly, joy of victory -- although victory was necessary and is gratifying. Rather, it is a quiet pride in these remarkable young men and women who have grown up in our communities.

It would seem that the Greatest Generation's genes skipped a generation, and have blossomed anew in their grandchildren. We must catch and preserve this perishable, noble moment. We mean to offend no one, but we mean to honor our own.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2002, Creators Syndicate