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Jewish World Review Oct. 1, 2002 / 25 Tishrei, 5763

Tony Snow

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Musings | The White House has a new national security strategy, and the document is very blunt. It serves notice that President Bush is serious about promoting freedom, because free societies are a lot more peaceable than dictatorships and monarchies.

The document also is unapologetically moral in tone. The president takes a direct slap at moral relativism -- the notion that there's no absolute right and wrong, only what certain civilizations define as such -- he observes that basic principles are quote: "right and true for all people everywhere."

He's correct.

The world too often has ignored genocide on the theory that we can't judge others. Tens of millions perished in 20th century death camps, while great nations just looked the other way.

Well, we can't afford blindness anymore. There are tens of thousands of thugs who loathe liberty and love death, and want to annihilate Western civilization. They won't go away, so the world will have to choose between their vision, and the way of freedom.

We didn't start this fight, but we certainly have to finish it.

America bashing is a much beloved sport in Europe, and it scaled new heights when Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, Germany's minister of Justice, accused American President George W. Bush of fomenting war to distract attention from domestic economic concerns.

She added that this wasn't a new tactic: "Even Hitler did it."

Gmelin later claimed she had no intention of comparing the president to Hitler, but then added she merely thought the two men shared political tactics.

Oh, that's reassuring: She thinks the president acts like Hitler, but doesn't think like him. Keep in mind that Gmelin delivered the insult during a political event -- thus making it clear she believes America bashing -- vicious America-bashing -- makes for smart politics.

The quip has damaged U-S - German relations dramatically. And now for the ultimate irony: In trashing George Bush, Gmelin was trying to draw attention away from the fact that her government has been a catastrophic economic failure. No amount of trash talk with change that fact.

Sometimes, even we pundits need to get away from it all: Stories come and go like shooting stars; faces and issues flash across the screen. One day, we're thinking about Iraq; the next, about Afghanistan. We'll cover elections in Germany, a child beating in Indiana - the Middle East. And now, as the drums of war thump vaguely in the distance, new complications arise.

Under the circumstances, it's tough to staying atop the flood of incoming information, let alone find the time and solitude to develop perspective about anything.

I have a simple solution to all of this. Turn it off - read. Open a Bible. Check out a novel. Try poetry. Get the mind stirring. There's nothing worse than an intellectual rut, and no better avenue of escape than by taking a ride on someone else's imagination.

This week, for instance, I'm re-reading Don Quixote, the first great novel, and as wise and funny as it was five centuries ago.

It won't directly help me unlock the mysteries of Iraq, but it will clear my head.

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