by Robert Morrison
November 20, 2009
President Obama is said to be taking his time, carefully weighing all alternatives, calibrating our response to the situation in Afghanistan with precision and judgment. The point of all these statements is to reinforce the Obama administrations theme that George W. Bush rushed off pell-mell and did not assess the situation properly before committing U.S. troops.
Not since the famed King Ethelred the Unready have we seen such a long, drawn-out, and public process of decision-making. Despite his name, however, this ancient English king was not called the unready because he was unprepared. The word comes from Middle English and means he was ill-advised.
That appellation certainly fits today. We have seen a succession of unconfirmed, unconfirmable czars comes and go. The latest departure has been Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director. She cited Mao Zedong as her favorite political philosopher. If any adviser in any conservative administration had listed some notorious mass murderer as a political model, the roof of the press room would have fallen in.
Now, part of President Obamas delay must be attributed to the kind of advisers he has chosen and the kind of advice they are giving him. One of these, Bruce Riedel, recently spoke at Tel Aviv University. Riedel is a senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institute and a former CIA official.
Riedel is telling the President that we are fighting a losing battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan and that with our forces bogged down there, we are incapable of responding militarily to the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Israelis need to understand that there’s going to be a huge drain on resources, attention and capital [in Afghanistan], and that will have implications, Reidel said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
Well. One has to wonder if Bruce Riedel has ever read U.S. history. In World War II, there were many who thought—for less than 24 hours—that we had too much on our hands fighting Japan to enter into a war with Nazi Germany. President Roosevelt responded with speed not just to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but also to Hitlers subsequent declaration of war on the U.S.
To meet those combined threats, the United States had to resort to a draft. We eventually put in uniform one in every 11 Americans. (Today, that figure is less than one in two hundred.) Americas industrial capacity made us the Arsenal of Democracy. During the war, Britain tripled her output, excelling both Germany and Russia, who merely doubled theirs. Japan, incredibly, saw a four-fold increase in production. And America? The United States increased its war production twenty-five times.
Does Bruce Riedel, or any of President Obamas timorous advisers, have any idea of the capacity for greatness that this country possesses? My diplomatic history prof, Norman A. Graebner, used to tell standing room only lecture halls that the United States was like the great boxer, Joe Louis.
We had power to spare.
If this nations life is threatened by murderous mullahs in Tehran, or by Al Qaeda harboring Taliban in Afghanistan, we can do what we have to do. Who else will protect us? The UN?