Saturday, July 28, 2007

Common Sense And The Situation We Face

Written from Ashland, Ore.--

Sen. Barack Obama has many admirable traits. but he is lacking in experience and his statement in this week's Democratic presidential candidates' debate that he would meet with the leaders of Syria, Cuba and Venezuela as a means of fashioning a new U.S. foreign policy approach is a very strong indication he is not ready to become President.

It reminds me of when I was covering Eugene McCarthy's campaign for President for the L.A. Times back in 1968. When McCarthy refused to criticize the Soviet Union for its invasion of Czechoslovakia, crushing the reformist "Prague spring," in August of that year, it was proof positive that it would be dangerous to elect McCarthy to the presidency.

Anyone who thinks now that making an approach to Fidel Castro or his brother, Raul, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Syria's Bashar Assad is going to do any good is displaying dangerous naivete, and Hillary Clinton, who never shows that kind of foolishness, was correct when she assailed Obama for doing so. Her reaction was not Bush-Cheney lite, as Obama said so glibly. It was just common sense.

We are living in an exceedingly dangerous time, and it is almost unnerving to hear so many people say there is a cheap and easy way to get out of it.

The most serious part of the present crisis is the threat that nuclear weapons may fall into Muslim fundamentalist hands and the fact that if they did, they would be most likely to use them. We and our allies, including Britain, France, the rest of NATO, India and Israel, and even hopefully, Russia and China, must be willing to take any action necessary to prevent this from happening, lest we wake up one day and find that an American or British city. Moscow or Peking for that matter, has been atom bombed, or subject to a dirty bomb. Los Angeles, with all its nightclubs and the movie industry, so anathema to the Muslim crazies, could be the target.

Unfortunately, playing up to Chavez, the Castros or Assad affords us no means whatsoever to protect ourselves. In Assad's case, this year House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assorted other emissaries "reached out" to him, as they say, but the only result was a stepup in assassinations and other terrorist activity in Lebanon.

At the moment, the overall nuclear prospects are why the unrest in Pakistan is of such critical importance. Just this morning comes word that, somehow, the Muslim crazies have been permitted to come back to the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, and are again clashing with regular Pakistani law enforcement authorities there. This, just two weeks after more than 100 lives were lost when the Pakistan army removed them and supposedly shut the pesthole down.

It is clear, as Time magazine said in last week's edition, that the regime of Pervez Musharraf "possibly" could collapse. But, as usual, the appeasers at Time did not draw the proper conclusions that follow from this. They failed in their article to examine what we might do to assure that whoever succeeded Musharraf in that event would keep the country's estimated 40 nuclear weapons out of Osama bin Laden's hands. It might take action by American special forces in the last extreme to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and put it fully in our control.

When I was in College, I spent long hours in Dartmouth's Baker Library stacks reading the New York Times and Time magazine's issues for 1940 when the Nazis conquered France and were theatening to invade Britain. These publications had a different spirit then than they do today. They were firm in their support of the hardline Churchill government, determined to stop the Nazis, and the moves of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to help Britain do this.

Today, these same publications, and the Los Angeles Times as well, fall all over each other to figure out how we can withdraw our forces from Iraq, an act which I believe would lead in short order, to a terrorist takeover in the Middle East.

The weakness in the media reflects the inability of a large part of the Democratic party to come to grips with the situation that faces us.

Obviously, we want our system of demoractic freedoms to last and prosper in the world. That is going to have to entail an effective waging of the war we are currently engaged in. It cannot mean running to see Chavez, the Castros and Assad, as Obama suggested this week.

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