Friday, July 08, 2005

North and West

I'm heading to Alaska in a few hours to spend some much-anticipated time with my close extended family, including my brother-in-law who lives in Afghanistan and is making a rare U.S. visit.

I'll be gone 10 days. I hope my faithful readers will keep checking. I'll fill you in when I return.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Britain, Stand Fast

My thoughts are with Londoners today as they suffer another cowardly blow at the hands of terrorists. I've been on the top of a double-decker bus in London and am horrified by the twisted seats and red sardine-can metal I see on the news today. My thoughts are also with Tony Blair, who has been wading through massive public disapproval of his efforts to support the War on Terror and the United States.

A few other thoughts:

1. I completely disapprove of the manner in which the Bush Administration got us into Iraq. Unlike many of my friends, however, I believe withdrawal from the cause, despite losses of American and friendly Iraqi life, is premature. Much has been accomplished in Iraq. It's a country that was flattened, prone to the desert floor, under Saddam. Now, it is on its knees, attempting to find its feet. We cannot leave until the Iraqis can stand on their own. Whether we like it or not.

2. As evidenced by the recent loss of Navy Seals on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the war there is not over. We cannot forget this. Well-organized terrorists remain active. And Afghanistan struggles while warlords and scheming power-brokers play for control. We're still needed there. Military, NGOs, others.

3. I have a little dream: for all of the United States' shifting allegiances in the region during the Cold War, and the profilgation of political capital and weapons caches, perhaps the United States is responsible for putting things straight. This is tempered by another dream: that those citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan start realizing that while freedom takes a lot of work, it is worth every bead of sweat and every drop of blood. The U.S. and its allies--Britain foremost--can't give them freedom. They have to take it and own it for themselves.

4. I hope Britain stays on course despite the attacks. This War on Terror is a horrible thing: the enemy is elusive, living in shadows, evidenced only through street carnage, victims and victims' families, convoluted webs of cryptic intelligence, and internet postings. But to give up fighting is to give in. I'm convinced of it. As much as I am troubled by some of what George W. Bush has said and done since taking office, I respect his tenacity and hope that his boldness, courage, and vision bear fruit.

5. Can the War on Terror be won? I used to plague myself with this question. My answer was always, "No. As long as there are those willing to die for their beliefs and kill innocents to further them." Now, my answer is this: As long as those committed to freedom and democracy in this world are vigilant against Terror and are unified in their opposition to it on all fronts, the costs of doing business as a terrorist will begin to outweigh the benefits. Can it be won? Yes. If "winning" is measured by fewer and fewer attacks, and fewer and fewer young people joining the cause.

6. That brings me to my major concern. As much as we protect ourselves, terrorists will always find a seam in our armor. Once we plug one hole in the dike, another will form. Therefore, the only way to defeat Terror is to dry up its source. That means making terrorism--whether its foundation is radical Islam sold to the impoverished and dispossessed or something else--unattractive. And making peaceful and (financially and spiritually) lucrative options more available. That is the key. I'm concerned that not enough is being done on that front.

My hopes and prayers to all those working to combat the insanity of terrorism in this world.