Presidential Politics Series.
THE WAR: Are They Owners of Defeat OR Invested in Victory?

In our column today, we deal with the first of several critical issues. With respect to the War, there are those candidates that take satisfaction in owning the idea of "defeat and retreat" in Iraq and there are others who with passion wish to ultimately declare "victory" over terrorism. Presidential election politics makes the news almost everyday. The rhetoric from some of the announced and unannounced candidates seems to be heavy in style and light in substance.

Playing political games by the politicians...pandering to the crowd, biasing and managing the news, personal political makeovers and overnight sleepovers in the Senate... are not in our national interests. We would like to say that these shenanigans are almost childlike; but that would be an insult to childhood. What is at stake however is the health of our nation and the hopes of future generations. These are trying times. This is that time when we need statesmanlike leadership at the top with a steady virtuous hand at the helm. With the President at a favorability rating of 36 percent and Congressional approval rating at a shockingly low 23 percent, is there any doubt that people are in search for moral authority in leadership?

Three major central issues face America today: the war in Iraq along with the larger war against terrorists, the economy, and the Judiciary. These prime issues are uppermost in the minds of most voters, and that may very well be the case in the upcoming Presidential primaries and at the time of the November 2008 national election. As we see it, the Presidential candidate with credibility and thus character has the most acceptable "position" on these matters will, without doubt, be the successful candidate in the election. The American electorate will see to that.

Americans want to be safe, secure and at peace. In our Column today, we focus on the first of these critical issues, that of national homeland security and victory in the war against diabolical terrorism. The latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that al-Quida is continuing to focus on high profile political, economic and infrastructure targets in the United States for the purpose of causing mass causalities, destruction, and economic collapse. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently described homeland security as in a heightened state of alert. Frances M. Townsend, White House homeland security adviser, said "job number ONE is to protect the American people." She went on to say that "al-Quida terrorist's network's growing ability to use their hideouts in Pakistan to launch attacks against our homeland is a very real threat." Only within the past week, a National Intelligence Estimate says that al Qaeda poses a persistent threat to the US, and that the primary operating branch of the terrorist outfit is now in Iraq.

There is no question, the terrorists are brutal and want to see the elimination of every American man, woman and child. Clearly, Americans should be UNITED in their determination to defeat these murdering thugs. A divided America makes it easier for these savages to achieve their goal. Nearly six years after 9/11, we are well into an epic, generational struggle. A struggle that pits freedom against tyranny ... hope against fear ... democracy against Islamic radicalism. The men and women of our Armed Forces are fighting with heroic resolve against these enemy forces ... and they deserve to be bolstered in their mission. They deserve the support by all Americans and people of good will who are willing to call evil by its name.

There are those voices today that support appeasement over strength and surrender over vigilance. The US Declaration of Independence states "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal... with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." But first, there must be LIFE. Recently, thousands of lives were targeted by terrorists in a foiled plot in London and Glasgow, Scotland. And less than a year ago in London, there was the attempt to smuggle explosive devices in airline hand luggage to blow up planes in mid-flight, or take over aircraft and crash them into targets inside the U.S. We owe much to a strengthened terror surveillance program for the foiling of these and other hateful plots.

What a horrendous tragedy was about to happen as the news hit the airways the morning of August 10, 2006. Had the extremist terrorists plan to blow up five American airliners succeeded, the consequences would have been, as Scotland Yard said, "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." Thousands could have been killed: men, women and children, of all different faiths and stations in life. They would have been burnt and mutilated by pathological fanatics whose perverted idea of "life" prompts them, allegedly, to conspire at carnage. We are told that the plot had been in the works for months, and its goal was catastrophic. One after another, planes would have exploded in the sky, sending innocent unsuspecting men, women and children to their deaths. Yet this great episode of successful policies and preemptive strategy has gone relatively un-noticed by the press. The fact that such a tremendous accomplishment took place was soon forgot, and so many never even knew.

To repeat, there are those, to the dismay of many, who support appeasement over strength, surrender over vigilance and the weakening of national defense. It is disheartening that today we hear voices of "cut and run" pessimism. This defeatist rhetoric, seem to lack any exit strategy out of Iraq or any plan to reinforce homeland security to safeguard innocent lives, or any plan to win the war against fascist terrorists. Think of it, we did not negotiate with the carnage of Hitler's Nazis Germany or with Japan's Hirohito and his attack on the innocent lives at Pearl Harbor. We were determined than, as a people, to defeat the Axis powers. If we had not acted as we did, speculate where might we be today? But we did act. And a willing and committed people along with statesmanship-like leadership moved forward with a will and a determination to protect the homeland and to preserve freedom for millions. Thanks to the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. And thanks to, to John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missal crisis and Ronald Reagan in his call to Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time," said liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith back in 1977. "This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership," Galbraith concluded. If so, then George W. Bush came up with the right action at the right time to confront without equivocation America's major anxiety after the September 11 terrorists attacks. President Bush may not have established, at the time, a convincing link between Saddam Hussein and September 11. But the coalition forces including American service men and women did succeed in removing from power the terrorizing carnage of a brutal murderer who himself was a weapon of mass destruction. These brave men and women paved the way for an elected representative government in Iraq and to free them of a life of terror. Terrorism thrives when tyrants rule, and moderation is stifled.

Sir Winston Churchill said it well when he stated "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half." It is true, we face the threat of terror from the fascist forces of radicalism and the extremism of Hezbollah and al Qaeda. This is no time for moral equivalence; if ever, this is the time for moral clarity. Among those who wish to be President, will the true leader with moral authority stand up and be counted: be they either owners of defeat and retreat OR investors in victory and security. And Winston Churchill also stated our own philosophy during times of hardship, "Never flinch, never weary, never despair." And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.