My vicar from my home church in England sent me an article regarding the war written by Robert Fisk, the so-called "Liberator of Kabul". This article, (which I am unable to link to - sorry), no doubt captures the mood of many of you in England and Europe regarding America and Americans. It reeks of a mistaken belief many Europeans have about us, namely - that we are wreckless, unintellectual, blood-thirsty simpletons. What is most maddening about this misconception is that the only possible way an American can convince a European that he is not an unsophisticated rube is to agree with the European. Europeans apparently cannot conceive of the possibility that they might be wrong.
We Americans, on the other hand, are very aware that we might be wrong. We remember Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs and Carter's abortive attempt to rescue the hostages from Iran. Like the English and you Europeans, we are cynical and distrustful of our government. We hate what the government did to innocents at Ruby Ridge and Waco and Miami, but we remember also that these attrocities were visited upon us by an administration whose leader wasn't sure how to define the word "is". For the first time in a very long time we have a president who actually seems to rely on principle rather than polls for guidance.
We do not all agree that Saddam poses a direct immediate threat to our security, but this President - the one who actually seems to have some semblance of moral vision - made it clear on 20 September 2001; before a joint session of Congress when he warned the nations of the world that those who are not with us in the fight against terror are against us.
The Butcher of Baghdad has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not with us.
Americans are overwhelmingly in favour of removing Saddam, not because we are the doltish, uneducated dupes of a cowboy oilman and his neo-con henchmen, but because we have images of burning, crumbling buildings seared into our national consciousness. We are very aware that politicians are capable of all sorts of nefarious behaviour - remember that we had a front row seat at The Slick WIllie Show for eight miserably long years - but we also know that criminally wicked and evil people who hate the west and will stop at absolutely nothing to destroy us are even now plotting something more devastating than 11 September. And we will not stand idly by and wait for it to be brought to our shores.
In American football, we have a saying that perfectly captures the essence of our response to terrorism: The best defense is a good offense. We were caught napping on nine-eleven, but we are fully awake now and we are determined to carry this war - a war we DID NOT start - to the enemy. We are sorry you don't like it, but quite frankly, it wasn't your WTC and your Pentagon and your Flight 93 that were destroyed.
As I read European and British news reports about the anti-war fervor there, I cannot help but think of Winston Churchill thundering unheeded warnings about Nazi Germany from the backbench of Parliament in the 1930s. Your leaders were proclaiming peace even as an unspeakable evil was being hatched in your midst. How do we know these days are any different than those? How do we know your leaders are any wiser now than then?
Maybe you're right, maybe we are "simpletons". But you, Europe, have little in your recent history to convince us that anything short of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack in the heart of London, Paris or Berlin could possibly shake you out of your moral and intellectual torpor. Your revered principle of moral equivalency has eaten away the very soul of Europe. Your leaders are no longer capable of judging anything as absolutely right or absolutely wrong. Oh, anything that is, except where America is involved; in that case we are apparently wrong all the time.
We here on the western shore of the Atlantic wonder at the moral vacuity of a Europe which could dispassionately observe, (and therefore passively condone), genocide in Yugoslavia and then lecture us on principles of right and wrong. We wonder how many millions more would have died in Slovenia and Bosnia had the United States left it to you to resolve the mess in the Balkans. We remember Sarajevo 1914, too. We marvel that anyone could dare to compare a popularly elected government such as exists in Israel with Yassar Arafat's thugocracy. We remember that all of Europe would be speaking German if not for American "intervention". We remember that it was American military, industrial and economic might that liberated Europe from a Nazi terror that could have been prevented had you heeded the early warnings.
11 September was an early warning.
For generations, we Americans have perceived ourselves to be somehow slightly inferior to our older, more sophisticated cousins on the east side of the Atlantic. But we are slowly coming to conclude that your sophistication is a sham. Europe has become our embittered, crazy, never-married great-aunt who swears and rails and cackles insanely at us from her attic loft. We love her and tolerate her because we remember the relationship we used to have back before she lost her mind and forfeited her soul. We'll shelter her and care for her until she dies, but we now know she has nothing useful to say.
Finally, I can think of no better description than "simpleton" for any person who would argue that this fight is about oil. This is about survival. America was viciously, brutally attacked by an enemy that has no morals we recognize and no creed beyond infidels must die. We recognize, even if you don't, that this is a battle to the death between the ideas that have formed the west for nearly 2000 years and the ideas that hold sway in those poor benighted countries suffering under the tyranny of Islam.
We have been thrust into a war we neither wanted nor asked for. We know we are not virtuous; we are not pure and we are frequently ham-handed in our dealings with others. But we are also very, very angry. And your silly, simplistic and naive arguments do nothing to convince us that you are anything more than the unwitting accomplices of those who would destroy us all in the name of Allah.