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Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2003 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Tom Purcell

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Morale at Veterans' Day | 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.

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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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10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell