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Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2001 / 17 Tishrei 5762

Linda Bowles

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Breaking the nation out of a rhetorical cycle -- IF talking about problems solved them, America wouldn't have any. Sometimes it takes a crisis to break a nation out of the rhetorical cycle. Sometimes it takes a major threat to jolt a nation out of its preoccupation with trivialities, gossip and "real life" entertainment, which serves as a sick substitute for real life experiences.

Here and there in America, reality is breaking through. Suddenly, the social glow is off ideological pipe dreams about open borders, multicultural anti-Americanism, new-age secularism, the elimination of guns, non-judgmentalism, the horrors wrought by carbon dioxide, the canonization of victimhood, the hate of hate, and the protection of hoot owls. Priorities and mind-sets are changing.

While the Constitution says nothing about job creation, public education, Medicare or government-run retirement schemes, it expressly charges the federal government with the defense of the nation against enemies, foreign and domestic. There should be no doubt which activity has first call on the financial and material resources of the central government.

We have been talking for years about the need to change our military to fit the post Cold War reality. We have prattled on endlessly about how to deal with newly emerging threats to our national security. It took a humbling, heart-rending loss of thousands of innocent lives to force us to get serious.

Our Cold War policy was one of mutual vulnerability. The policy was: "We won't create defenses against your nuclear weapons if you don't create defenses against ours. That way, each of us is capable of destroying the other even in the event of a first strike, which guarantees that neither of us will act against the other."

This policy liberated the Soviets to actively pursue their goal to free the world from capitalism. Ronald Reagan saw the folly of this arrangement. Against the screams of those who were devoted to the policy of mutual undefense, he deployed missiles to Europe and pointed them at Russia. He announced that America would build an impenetrable missile defense system. The Soviets knew they couldn't keep up. The evil empire crumbled.

Today, the capability to build and deliver nuclear weapons is spreading at a rapid pace. It is only a matter of time until the ability to launch a ballistic missile will be in the hands of rogue nations and well-organized terrorists. Indeed, the fanatics running North Korea already have such weapons and have flown missiles over Japan just to make a point. Pakistan and India did extensive testing last year. Nuclear weapons from the Soviet arsenal have, for a price, found their way into unfriendly hands. China is sharing nuclear know-how with many of its friends, including Iran. Saddam Hussein is committed to joining the nuclear club.

We must now understand that we face fanatical enemies who would, with great joy and thanksgiving, lob a nuclear missile at one or more of our great cities with the expectation of killing millions of American men, women and children.

Given this certainty, it is almost beyond comprehension that serious politicians and liberal columnists would put down and ridicule the idea of a missile defense system. They say it would not work, that it is impossible to do.

We are an extraordinary people. We can make it work if we apply our massive resources and our collective genius to make it work -- with the sense of urgency that our lives depend upon it. Our children and grandchildren will surely respect us and love us still, even if we try and fail. But they will surely curse us if we do not even try.

Those who oppose the development of a missile shield argue that we should instead protect ourselves from chemical and biological devices used to poison our air and water. We should ignore nuclear bombs delivered by missiles, and focus upon those delivered in suitcases, backpacks or aboard ships in American harbors.

How can it not be clear that the more effective our defenses are against these approaches, the greater the temptation will be for our enemy to lob a missile from a safe distance, from a small island or a ship, leaving us bewildered about who to counterattack?

Voluntary vulnerability to nuclear attack is no longer an acceptable way of getting along with the rest of the world.

In the meanwhile, we must give ultimate credibility to the Bush doctrine by quickly obliterating the Taliban in Afghanistan and the terrorists they harbor. Then we must move on to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Palestine, efficiently executing the Taliban solution as necessary.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate