Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2003 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
Morale at Veterans' Dayhttp://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | George Marshall's words are beginning to worry me.
"It is not enough to fight," he said. "It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory."
So how is our morale these days?
Just two years ago, we were attacked. Thousands of innocent people were incinerated by people who hate us. Our morale was low. We were weak and had no idea where our enemies might strike next.
When we identified our attackers, we didn't lash out right away. President Bush and his team took their time and thought their strategy through. Their message was clear: if you are a terrorist, or you harbor terrorists, we will take you out.
We demonstrated our new resolve in Afghanistan. At first, the "experts" and naysayers said the battle strategy was wrong. They mentioned "quagmire" and "Viet Nam." But in short order the battle was won. Our confidence grew and our morale improved.
The war on terrorism continued. Our government took great measures to find and capture terrorists here and abroad. We seized bank accounts and rattled Al Qaeda operations. We didn't shut them down - they still have their victories - but we slowed them down. No attacks have occurred on American soil since 911, and our morale has grown.
The president then revealed his steely will. At this time last year, Iraq was still not complying with UN resolutions. Many world leaders, including Democrats and Republicans here, spoke fearfully of Iraq's weapons capabilities. Iraq had developed chemical and biological weapons before and used them before. What if such weapons, or, more importantly, the knowledge to build them, got into the hands of Al Qaeda? The scenario was chilling.
The President gave Saddam Hussein a black-or-white choice. Show us that you are complying with UN resolutions or we will destroy the threat you pose to America and the world.
To be sure, it was a difficult time. Old alliances were strained. Protesters flooded cities around the globe. Much of the world thought America had gone mad. Nobody wanted war, least of all the President himself who knew he'd be sending young men and women into harm's way.
But that's the tough thing about being a leader in this world. There's evil here and sometimes you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Should we continue to appease the world's dictators, while they manipulate us and lie to us? While they oppress their people in tyranny and spread hatred for America? Weren't most of the 911 attackers from Saudi Arabia, our "ally?"
Or should we demonstrate a clear resolve that post-911 we have changed? That we mean what we say and that we see it in our vital interests, and the world's vital interests, that our enemies also change.
The president decided to show resolve. Saddam overplayed his hand, for reasons that are puzzling now. The president changed American history by taking out a potential threat before it was imminent. Agree or disagree with his aggressive approach, the war plan proved to be successful and American morale was strong again.
But how is morale now?
Our troops in Iraq are suffering 30 attacks a day by enemy insurgents who are more than willing to trade their lives for ours. The hard work is just beginning - the long, slow rebuilding of a country that was gutted by its former rulers. And Americans are starting to blink.
At a time when unity and resolve are more important than ever, there are many politicians here who instead foment doubt and discord. They seek to stoke our fear and doubt, then attach themselves to it with the hopes of riding it into the White House.
We celebrate Veteran's Day next week and, in a manner, we are all veterans in the war on terrorism. Our prayers especially go out to the young men and women who face the greatest dangers, but in this peculiar war any of us might die and all of us must contribute. Our will can accomplish great things, as the great George Marshall showed us. But only if we support our troops so they maintain high morale only if we unify and maintain our own high morale.
Which is why his words are beginning to worry me.
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