Peggy Noonan has a sobering column in today’s Wall Street Journal about the threat that ISIS poses to a war-weary United States. I encourage you to read the whole thing. When you do, don’t miss this part:
One of my fears in the early years of the Iraq war was that if it proved to be the wrong war—if no weapons of mass destruction were found, if sustained unrest showed Saddam Hussein was the garbage-pail lid who kept the garbage of his nation from spilling out—it would mean that at some time in the future when America really needed to fight and had to fight, she would not. I feared the war’s supporters would be seen to have cried wolf, and someday there would be a wolf and no one would listen. Now there is a wolf.
We tell ourselves that we do not want to go back to Iraq, and we don’t—all the polls show this. But facing up to what ISIS is and what it plans to do is not returning to Iraq in that we are not talking about nation-building, quixotic exercises in democracy-bringing, or underwriting governments ruled by incompetents. We are talking about other things…
Be prepared, to the degree possible, for a hit or hits on American soil or that of our longstanding allies. ISIS says it’s coming. So far they’ve done pretty much everything they said they’d do.
There is such a thing in the world as war-mongering, but those raising the alarm about ISIS are not doing that. ISIS is more organized, better funded, and more connected than Al Qaeda ever was. Some of their fighters carry U.S. and British passports. It’s not war-mongering to say so. It’s just reality.
I’ve been making my way through William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill. It is astonishing to see how the moral clarity of British statesmen dissolved during the 1930’s. Churchill was virtually alone in seeing Hitler for what he was during that time. Everyone else was so war-weary that they couldn’t call a spade a spade. And the British public went right along with them. It was the weakening of their moral resolve that led to German rearmament and war.
I think that our country risks a similar scenario. Some of our statesmen are so weary of the “optional” Bush wars that they are losing their resolve to name evil when they see it. No matter how ill-conceived one thinks the Bush wars were, that’s an abdication of leadership. Past blunders will not exonerate present irresponsibility.
I’m not advocating for any particular strategic response to ISIS in saying all of this. I’m simply observing that the only statesmen who will be ready to face the present threat will be those who retain moral clarity and resolve. Those who flinch out of a desire to distance themselves from the “optional” Bush wars aren’t going to help in the long run.
Read the rest of Noonan’s column here.