The Choice Could Not Be Clearer
By Speaker J. Dennis Hastert Posted in 2006 — Comments (124) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
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It is common, if sad, that people sometimes dismiss American political debates because they see no great differences between the parties. But, as is often the case, those differences are far more easily seen the closer we get to Election Day. Candidates go out of their way to differentiate themselves from their opponents, the better to stand out in the voters' minds. This differentiation is usually healthy and sometimes insincere but always informative.
“[The Democrats] think, in short, that 9/11 was an aberration, not part of a pattern. This is nothing short of insane.”
That is especially true this year and more so on issues of national security than any other. Many have referred to the opposing ideas coming from the Democrats and Republicans as "pre-9/11" and "post-9/11" - Democrats advocating the policies that were in place during the lead-up to the terrorist attacks and Republicans advocating those America has pursued since. The characterization is eye-brow raising, but the closer one looks, the more accurate it seems.
To Republicans, the lessons of 9/11 are clear. We are at war with Islamist extremists and have been since at least as long ago as the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993. More to the point, they are at war with us. The goal of our enemies - global domination through murder, terror, and, at the earliest possible date, the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction - was stated long before 19 young men hijacked four planes five Septembers ago. They have no political agenda or list of grievances. Their perversion of a decent religion has left them with no incentive to pursue either peace or progress. They want, quite simply, to terror-bomb us and our values back to the Dark Ages. As far as we are concerned, our enemies present to us a choice not between war and peace but between war and chaos. They will fight us whether we choose to fight back or not. As far as Republicans are concerned we are in a fight for our freedom and even our lives.
The Democrats disagree.
Read on . . .
At a fundamental, instinctive level, Democrats think that there must be something we're doing to exacerbate all this; that there must be something they could do that would make Islamist suicide bombers pack up their bomb vests and stop threatening us. If only, they say, Republicans could address the "root causes" of their troubled psychology - if only we could sit down and talk to them -- they wouldn't hate us so much. If only America would abandon its tough-talking, uncompromising stance, we could immediately spark the dawn of a kinder, gentler jihad.
They think, in short, that 9/11 was an aberration, not part of a pattern. This is nothing short of insane. After the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993, America was terrorized in quick succession: the Khobar Towers bombings in 1996, the African embassy bombings in 1998, the 2000 attack against the USS Cole. All of these attacks - more brazen and costly than the one before - were launched against the United States while we pursued the weak, indecisive, pre-9/11 policies the Democrats still support.
Whatever else anyone can say about the Republican security agenda, it has achieved its objective. Despite all predictions to the contrary, we have not witnessed a repeat of the 9/11 attacks on American soil. The Afghanistan Taliban, Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, and tens of thousands of their most dangerous leaders and soldiers around the world have been erased. Libya's terrorist regime has disarmed. Democratic movements have sprung up across the Middle East. Iran has been isolated. Three separate elections have been held in Iraq. We have taken the fight to the enemy before they can take the fight to American neighborhoods.
Our heroic troops are still in harm's way; more of them will be wounded and killed in action before the job is done. But our policy is clear and our resolve unbending: America will not abandon the Iraqis; we will not abandon our allies; and we will not go back on our word. Our national security policy will not rely on the kindness of terrorists. We are criticized for our lack of an exit strategy in Iraq, but our exit strategy has been clear from day one: winning.
The divisions between these ideas and those espoused by Democrats on the campaign trail could not be deeper. Democrats have called for the immediate removal of troops from Iraq. They have opposed any effort to seal America's borders from infiltration. They have voted to cut our intelligence and defense budgets and against a missile defense shield. They opposed the Patriot Act and recent legislation necessary to allow our troops to interrogate terrorist prisoners.
In short, Democrats do not believe in the Global War on Terror. I don't mean that they don't support it, though they don't. What I mean is Democrats don't believe the war actually exists. While Republicans believe the biggest threat to American freedom and security is the evil ideology that planned and executed the murder of 3,000 of our countrymen five years ago, and continues planning today, Democrats think the biggest threat to America is... Republicans.
The choice, as I said, could not be clearer.