RIMPAC! Or, Here’s Why It’s Dangerous Even to JOKE About Yelling “Fire” in a Crowded Theater

Don't blame me, blame the NavyNo matter how far Left someone is, or how anti-war, or even anti-American, I think we all could agree that one should not publish the sailing time of troop ships during a war.  A no-brainer, right?  But what if the publisher is the U.S. Navy itself?

It happens all the time.  Case in point, the photo accompanying this blog post (if you’re reading this on RSS, click through to the damn blog to see the photo.  And while you’re there, would it kill ya to actually click on a friggin’ ad once in a while?  I’m just sayin’.)

Onward!  “Sailing time of troop ships” is kind of an archaic phrase — modern ships don’t “sail,” and there is no longer a class of ships OFFICIALLY referred to as “troop ships.” But those are quibbles, and modern equivalents exist.  If you ever find yourself in possession of the knowledge that your government is about to launch a daring nighttime raid to take down Public Enemy No. 1 inside the borders of a semi-hostile ally… just to pick a wild hypothetical… if you ever have that knowledge, in the name of sweet Jesus or Loki or whoever, DON’T TWEET ABOUT IT IN ADVANCE!

Where was I?  The photo.  Below in its entirety is the caption that the U.S. Navy wrote, within the past week, describing the location of thousands of U.S. and allied sailors right now, through the day after tomorrow:

120727-N-VD564-015 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 27, 2012) Ships and submarines participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2012 are in formation in the waters around the Hawaiian islands. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney/Released)

Who told the enemy about RIMPAC?  String ‘em up! (Cue the visual of Jon Stewart touching his ear and pretending the control booth is setting him straight.)

My point, and I do have one, is not to make fun of Op-Sec rules.  One of those thousands of sailors is my son, and I’d be savagely pissed off if someone disclosed his whereabouts in a way that endangered him.  My point is the danger of “zero-tolerance” laws.

“Zero-tolerance” would mean that I’d be in trouble for this blog post even though the Navy itself provided the potentially most dangerous information.  But now I’ve increased that miniscule danger by a a hyper-miniscule amount by mentioning my son.

Think I’m kidding?  Note that the Navy did not disclose the names of any of the ships in the exercise.  But you can glance at my blog and learn my son is on the Nimitz.  The Nimitz is that big boat in the foreground of the picture, unless there’s another aircraft carrier at RIMPAC.  My son’s a second-class Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, which is one of three ratings responsible for launching and recovering fighter jets in the Arabian Sea and other war zones, and his two tours thus far have taken him to exotic places including Japan and …

Still think I’m kidding?  Ask the loved ones of Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney how comfortable they are with that caption. There’s nothing in my prior paragraph that hasn’t ALREADY been on my blog, and even if the blog never existed, there’s nothing dangerous in the graf that Osama bin-Soggy couldn’t piece together with very modest effort.  But if any jerk of a prosecutor ever wants an excuse to make my life a living hell, that paragraph could provide it.  I’d be scared to publish it if not for the fact that my life is a target-rich environment.

Be safe, son. I love you.

(Hat tip: Mom)

Teacher’s Beard Was A Reminder of Bin Laden in More Ways Than One

He shaved before Obama's speech

A teacher in Washington state found a unique way to keep the memory of the 9/11 attacks alive:

Weddle has wanted to cut his beard for years. His wife, Donita, has wanted him to cut it, too. But for Weddle a vow is a vow and so he hadn’t even trimmed it until Sunday night.
Weddle was a substitute teacher in Wenatchee when the infamous al-Qaeda terrorist attack occurred on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 3,000 Americans.

Weddle was so caught up in the news that he neglected to shave. A week or so later, he vowed not to shave until bin Laden was captured or proven dead. He figured it would just be a month or two.

Looking like that, he would have been ill-advised to visit Pakistan. (H/T: Neo)

Oh yes, commentary… I’ve been more focused on reading than on writing.

Obviously it’s a huge victory for Obama, who deserves credit not just for authorizing the raid, but for insisting on putting boots on the ground rather than just firing a missile from a drone.  In addition to ensuring that Osama is actually dead, the commandos apparently scooped up every computer and thumb drive they could find. Apparently hundreds of analysts are pouring through the captured files now, although why some official thought it was a good idea to leak that fact is beyond me.

Delighted though I am in the outcome, I have to say I thought Obama’s flowery speech Sunday night was a bit unseemly in its striving to take credit for the achievement.  When Saddam was captured, President Bush left it to the local ambassador to make the announcement.

Pakistan has a lot of explaining to do.

Finally, chalk up yet another outstanding mission for the Navy SEALS. I may get in trouble with my son for saying this, but how did the Navy end up being the go-to service for elite snipers and commandos?  Wouldn’t you expect that it would be the Marines or Army?

Hey, I wonder what I’d look like if I grew my beard really long…

1979

No Easy Choices in Libya

Gaddafi

Evil

I haven’t written much about Libya because I haven’t been sure how I felt about it.  I have no doubt that Libya and the world will be better off without Muammar Gaddafi in power, and I was glad to hear the Obama Administration say forthrightly that the man should go.  (But where was that resolve during the thwarted Iranian revolution in 2009?)

I’m sympathetic to the idea of a no-fly zone in Libya, to reduce the regime’s firepower in suppressing the uprising.  But while Obama has escalated in Afghanistan and declined to follow through on his campaign promise to surrender in Iraq, it’s hard to imagine this administration starting a brand new war.  And enforcing a no-fly zone is an act of war, regardless of whether it begins with the bombing of air defenses.

Even if we had a more hawkish President, there are meritorious arguments against establishing a no-fly zone.  It might not be enough to bring down the regime — and then where are we?  Do we consider sending in ground troops? Other than regime change, under what circumstances could we honorably discontinue the no-fly zone? Do we keep enforcing it for a decade or more, as in Iraq in the 1990s?

In the Wall Street Journal this weekend, former State Department official Eliot Cohen makes a strong case that the Obama administration has mishandled the crisis.  An excerpt:

Instead of seizing the opportunity, the administration made cumulative mistakes. It was slow in insisting that Gadhafi had to go—but is now committed to that end, exposing itself to humiliation if he does not. It allowed the Pentagon to publicly disparage military measures, reassuring Gadhafi and dispiriting the rebels, when a discreet and menacing silence would have done far less harm. It called for an international effort when the lesson of decades is that NATO and the United Nations find it impossible to act without American leadership. And when the French government showed strategic initiative and pluck, it undercut a major ally.

The moment has passed. The only question now is whether Gadhafi goes slowly, over months, or not at all. Senior American intelligence officials inconveniently observed the other day in front of Congress that the latter seems the likely outcome. What will happen if they are right?

Good question.  This blog is dedicated to the premise that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing,” and on that basis my natural inclination is to intervene in Libya. But while America is by far the most powerful country in the world, it is not omnipotent, and does not have infinite military and economic resources.  We should stand against evil, but we can’t prevent every evil.

In the end it’s an academic debate — the chance that this Administration will intervene militarily is close to zero. (Oops!)

Update: Ross Douthat offers another conservative cautionary note on Libya:

If we did supply the rebels, who exactly would be receiving our money and munitions? Libya’s internal politics are opaque, to put it mildly. But here’s one disquieting data point, courtesy of the Center for a New American Security’s : Eastern Libya, the locus of the rebellion, sent more foreign fighters per capita to join the Iraqi insurgency than any other region in the Arab world.

And if the civil war dragged on, what then? Twice in the last two decades, in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, the United States has helped impose a no-flight zone. In both cases, it was just a stepping-stone to further escalation: bombing campaigns, invasion, occupation and nation-building.

None of this means that an intervention is never the wisest course of action. But the strategic logic needs to be compelling, the threat to our national interest obvious, the case for war airtight.

With Libya, that case has not yet been made.

Mideast Uprisings Bode Well for Bush’s Freedom Agenda


The Washington Post has a helpful interactive map providing an overview of the ongoing unrest in a dozen countries throughout the Middle East, with tabs for Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

Any of these uprisings could end badly of course, but the possibilities are exciting.  Can there be any doubt that these Mideast insurrections are feeding on each other’s energy?  And, would any of them be happening if it were not for the successful toppling of the baddest Mideast despot of them all?

Plenty of commentators have written about vindication for Bush’s “freedom agenda” for the Middle East.  I don’t know that I have much to add to the current situation, but I do want to boast about discussing this more than two years ago.

From “Bush, Reagan, Moral Clarity and the Politics of Evil“:

For better or worse, Bush’s legacy will always be inextricably tied to the war in Iraq. This means, as I’ve written before, there is a chance Bush will be remembered years from now as the man who planted the first stable democracy in the heart of the Arab Middle East. If some day Islamic fascism joins Soviet communism in the category of defeated ideologies, a President’s clarity about the United States as a bulwark against evil may again be a large part of the reason.

I’m just sayin’…

In the Face of Evil, Good People Did Something

Evil

Seldom has any news event captured the spirit behind this blog’s title as powerfully as the atrocity (not tragedy) in Tucson.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”  It’s usually quoted as “good men,” but since Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say it, I’ve felt free to modernize the language.

Sometimes good people don’t get a lot of warning before they have to step up.  I yield to nobody in my admiration for Sergeant Kim Manley, the brave civilian police officer who first traded shots with the Fort Hood jihadi — and was shot twice for her troubles.  But it does her no disservice to note that when she ran toward the gunfire, she was responding to her training and doing the job that the police force paid her to do.

Patricia Maisch had no such training. She’s a 61-year-old small business owner who “came out to thank Giffords for her vote [in favor of] the stimulus bill.”  I’ll forgive her that, as she was the bystander who grabbed the second magazine (of 31 rounds) from Jared Lee Loughner before he could continue firing.  How many more dead would there have been?

Not all heroes are women, of course.  24-year-old Joe Zamudio heard the shots and ran toward them, prepared to take action; he was carrying a concealed, legal handgun.  He told MSNBC (at 2:12 in the video):

I saw another individual holding the firearm, and I kind of assumed he was the shooter, so I grabbed his wrist and told him to drop it, and forced him to drop the gun on the ground.  When I did that, everyone said, no, no, it’s this guy, it’s this guy.  And I proceeded to help hold that man down…

[At 4:40:] Sir, when I came through the door, I had my hand on the butt of my pistol, and I clicked the safety off.  I was ready to kill him.  But I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed that I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed that I didn’t have to go to that place.

The Second Amendment has never been a primary issue for me.  To the extent I’ve thought about it at all, I’ve generally favored tighter gun control. But episodes like this, and Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood, make me more sympathetic to arguments about the benefits of an armed populace.  The challenge, of course, is to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of deranged people like Jared Lee Loughner, while putting them into the holsters of responsible citizens like Joe Zamudio.

Congressional Intern Daniel Hernandez brought his nursing background into play and provided first aid that may have saved the Congresswoman’s life. “It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots, but people needed help,” he said.

The Web Goddess, who can’t stand the sight of the photo of Loughner, pointed me to a Slate “Explainer” column published in the wake of Virginia Tech.  It says that if confronted by a gunman, your best bet is to run away, as it’s hard to shoot a moving target.

Patricia Maisch, Joe Zamudio, Daniel Hernandez — they all did exactly the opposite.  When confronted with evil, the good people did something.

I saw another individual holding the firearm, and I kind of assumed he was the shooter, so I

grabbed his wrist and told him to drop it, and forced him to drop the gun on the ground.  When

I did that, everyone said, no, no, it’s this guy, it’s this guy.  And I proceeded to help hold

that man down.

Sir, when I came through the door, I had my hand on the butt of my pistol, and I clicked the

safety off.  I was ready to kill him.  But I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed

that I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed that I didn’t have to go to that place.

Thanksgiving Day Ruminations on America, Its Defenders and Its Enemies

Enough about turkeys today.  Let’s talk hawks and doves, taking as our text the work of two good writers with very different world views.

Clifford May, who leads the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, starts his Thanksgiving Day column by giving thanks for the members of our nation’s armed forces.

At this moment, such men and women are far from their homes fighting an enemy whose goal is to make us submit — to them, their laws, and their authority. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran’s Islamist revolution, put it succinctly: “People cannot be made obedient except with the sword!”We can argue about the best strategy for defeating these sworn enemies of America and the West — of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and moderate Muslims. But we should not be debating whether to be a bit more obedient; whether to appease this enemy; whether we can, through soft words and conciliatory deeds, make ourselves inoffensive to him; whether this conflict is our fault, at least as much as his.

Nor should we still be describing this global conflict as “overseas contingency operations” against “violent extremists” — phrases that cloud meaning and obscure understanding. The simple truth: Just as Nazism arose from within Germany, and Communism from within Russia, today radical and bellicose ideologies, movements, and organizations have arisen from within Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Islamic countries.

I agree “we should not be debating … whether we can, through soft words and conciliatory deeds, make ourselves inoffensive” to our enemies.  And yet that debate continues.

I met Robert Wright at Princeton, where he was a year ahead of me, and over the years I’ve followed his commentary I’ve found that I respect him more than I agree with him.  He’s a thoughtful writer who presses his anti-war case without demonizing those who disagree.

Wright has a column in the online New York Times this week in which he argues that the war in Afghanistan is “Worse Than Vietnam.”  Afghanistan is the longest war in American history, and more expensive than Vietnam and Korea combined.  Wright argues that by making war in Afghanistan and Iraq on anti-American jihadists, “we’re creating them faster than we’re killing them,” although he has the grace to acknowledge that this view is “impressionistic.”

All told, then: in terms of the long-run impact on America’s economic and physical security, the Afghanistan war is as bad as the Vietnam War except for the ways in which it’s worse.

Still, the strategy in whose name both wars were launched, containment, makes sense if wisely calibrated. [Side note: how did the launch of the war in Afghanistan have anything to do with "containment"?] A well tuned terrorism containment strategy — dubbed containment 2.0 by the foreign policy blogger Eric Martin — would require strong leadership in the White House and in Congress. It would mean convincing Americans that — sometimes, at least — we have to absorb terrorist attacks stoically, refraining from retaliation that brings large-scale blowback.

That’s a tough sell, because few things are more deeply engrained in human nature than the impulse to punish enemies. So maybe the message should be put like this: Could we please stop doing Al Qaeda’s work for it?

The idea that retaliation is counter-productive has a logic to it.  The argument deserves to be taken seriously… but it leads to untenable places.  I fervently hope that America never gets to the point where it can “absorb terrorist attacks stoically.”  As the first commenter (of more than 300) on Wright’s blog post put it, “Neville Chamberlain could not have written a better article.”

Back to Clifford May:

We live in uncertain times. In the early 20th century, terrorism meant a bomb thrown into a carriage. Today, it means a passenger jet slammed into a skyscraper. Tomorrow it could mean the detonation of nuclear devices, the use of biological weapons to spread dread diseases, or even cyber attacks on our electronic infrastructure.

In the past, we fought godless enemies who killed without remorse. What could be worse than that? An enemy who believes the God he worships commands him to slaughter “infidels,” an enemy who loves death — his own and even that of his children. If that is not evil, nothing is.

Should we be thankful for this enemy and this war? No, but perhaps we can be thankful for the fact — and I believe it is a fact — that we Americans, most of us, or at least enough of us, are equal to the challenge we face.

This blog was founded on the premise that — paraphrasing something Edmund Burke apparently did not actually sayall that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.  America is not without flaw, but I firmly believe it is the greatest force for good in the history of the world.  And people who deliberately fly airplanes into buildings are evil.

On this day of giving thanks I’m deeply grateful to the men and women of the American armed forces.  I pray for the well-being of all of them, but I’ve got a special stake in one. Harry, be safe, and thank you for your service.

In “Let’s Roll,” Neil Young Channels His Inner Neocon

This blog has a new theme song.

As quasi-obsessive as I am about 9/11, I can’t understand how Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll” escaped my notice from November 2001, when he first released the single, until today.  Thanks to Facebook friend Meg Marlowe for posting a YouTube link to the live version a few hours ago. [Note: the live version got deleted, the link now points to a music video.]

I love every syllable of the lyrics, but here’s the passage that qualifies the song as an anthem for All That Is Necessary:

No one has the answer
But one thing is true
You’ve gotta turn on evil
When it’s coming after you

You gotta face it down
And when it tries to hide
You gotta go in after it
And never be denied

I actually prefer the studio version, which you can also hear in its entirety via iLike.com.  (Mr. Young, I don’t know whether this post or any of the links violate your copyright, but FWIW, I just bought the song on iTunes.)

I’ve always loved Neil Young’s music, and in my youth I loved his politics as well.  I’m thinking particularly about  “Ohio,” the haunting Vietnam-era rally cry with its semi-explicit call to revolution (“gotta get down to it… should have been done long ago.”) In the three-plus decades since then, Young clearly hasn’t traveled as far down the neocon path as I have — in 2006 he released “Let’s Impeach the President,” which I won’t be buying.  But it’s amazing to me that the man who wrote “Let’s Impeach” and “Ohio” could also produce, in “Let’s Roll,” a clear-eyed clarion call without the slightest whiff of anti-American sentiment.  As Meg said on Facebook, “we all grow, right?”

Never Forget

This annual post was first published two years ago.  It is dedicated to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and to every firefighter who has ever run into a burning building — 343 of them in particular.

The name of this blog comes from something that English statesman Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say, so I’ve felt free to modernize the language:

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Regardless of who said it first, that sentence is the purest possible distillation of my worldview, and today is a powerful annual reminder of why I regard it as an enduring truth.

The events of 9/11 were the legacy of more than two decades of doing nothing, or next to nothing, in response to attacks from fascists in Islamic guise.

Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.

Only after 9/11 did America, led by a President who despite his substantial flaws was resolute enough to call evil by its name, finally mount a sustained response and take the battle to the enemy. And no, Saddam was not behind the 9/11 attacks — but liberating Iraq and planting a (still-fragile) democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East is an essential part of the broader war.

All of this is why, despite profound disagreements with the Republican Party on social issues, despite voting for Bill Clinton three times (including 2000), I can no longer vote for Democrats for President. Not until the party has a standard-bearer who understands the cost of meekness in the face of fascism, and who is prepared to stay on the offensive against people for whom “death to America” is not a metaphor.

Channeling His Inner Neocon: Did the Nobel Speech Launch the Obama Doctrine?

US troops in Afghanistan (AFP/Getty)

US troops in Afghanistan (AFP/Getty)

I may have been too quick to sneer yesterday at President Obama’s appearance in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The prize itself is still ridiculous, of course.  (And don’t get me started on the statue.)  But in addition to the obvious point that the honor is unearned, the president has faced critics from his left who believe the recent escalation of Mr. Obama’s War is inconsistent with the prize.

Seeking to answer those critics, Obama used his acceptance speech to issue a ringing declaration of American exceptionalism (although he would not use that term).

In the last 24 hours, I’ve watched one conservative after another find things to praise in the speech.  Neo-neocon (not an Obama fan) called it “the most robust defense of American military action I’ve ever heard him give,” and quoted this passage (my emphasis):

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason…

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.

In a post in The Corner titled “Obama the Neocon,” Michael Ledeen said:

It’s “only a speech,” to be sure.  And there things I wish he hadn’t said, or said differently.  But it’s a very different sort of speech, and it contained many words that are downright neoconnish:

America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements — these movements of hope and history — they have us on their side.

It sure sounds like President Obama just endorsed the Green Movement in Iran.

In a roundup titled “Conservative Praise for Obama Speech,” Politico notes the endorsement of former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich:

It’s already being called the “Obama Doctrine” – a notion that foreign policy is a struggle of good and evil, that American exceptionalism has blunted the force of tyranny in the world, and that U.S. military can be a force for good and even harnessed to humanitarian ends.

“I think having a liberal president who goes to Oslo on behalf of a peace prize and reminds the committee that they would not be free, they wouldn’t be able to have a peace prize, without having [the ability to use] force,” Gingrich said. “I thought in some ways it’s a very historic speech.”

The conservative other conservatives love to hate, Kathleen Parker, wrote in the Washington Post:

The speech was a signal moment in the evolution and maturation of Obama from ambivalent aspirant to reluctant leader.

Rising to the occasion, he managed to redeem himself at a low point in his popularity by reminding Americans of what is best about themselves.

At Contentions, Jennifer Rubin (really not an Obama fan):

But this speech is perhaps the closest he has come to throwing the American antiwar Left under the bus. America will defend itself. There is evil in the world. And yes, we are at war with religious fanatics:

Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war.

For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

It is not at all what the netroot crowd that lifted him to the presidency had in mind. It seems that reality may be dawning, however dimly, on the White House.

I could go on and on. (I guess I already have.)  I expect in the future I will continue to have more criticism than praise for Mr. Obama. But while I am always proud to be an American, today I am proud of my President.

.

Never Forget

This post was first published a year ago today.  It is dedicated to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and to every firefighter who has ever run into a burning building — 343 of them in particular.

wtc8The name of this blog comes from something that English statesman Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say, so I’ve felt free to modernize the language:

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Regardless of who said it first, that sentence is the purest possible distillation of my worldview, and today is a powerful annual reminder of why I regard it as an enduring truth.

The events of 9/11 were the legacy of more than two decades of doing nothing, or next to nothing, in response to attacks from fascists in Islamic guise.

Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.

Only after 9/11 did America, led by a President who despite his substantial flaws was resolute enough to call evil by its name, finally mount a sustained response and take the battle to the enemy. And no, Saddam was not behind the 9/11 attacks — but liberating Iraq and planting a (still-fragile) democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East is an essential part of the broader war.

All of this is why, despite profound disagreements with the Republican Party on social issues, despite voting for Bill Clinton three times (including 2000), I can no longer vote for Democrats for President. Not until the party has a standard-bearer who understands the cost of meekness in the face of fascism, and who is prepared to stay on the offensive against people for whom “death to America” is not a metaphor.