In his Presidential inaugural address on January 20, 1961, John Kennedy implored the nation “to bear any burden and pay any price” in defense of liberty. The existential threat that existed back then was the spread of world communism through tyrannical dictatorships. How quaint those words seem today. Now the only burden most Americans are willing to bear is to stand in line for hours in front of the Apple store when a new I-Phone comes on the market. As well as pay the most outrageous prices for this electronic gadgetry. In that same speech Kennedy also implored the nation to “ask not, what your country can do for you. Ask instead, what you can do for your country.” More quaintness, as that type of thinking has long come and gone. Now the attitude amongst the U.S. populace, as shown by the current election campaigns of both parties, is almost totally, “what’s in it for me.”
I bring this up now because of this country’s tepid responses to the latest Islamic-Jihadist terror attacks in Brussels, and shortly before that in Paris, and before that in California, which have claimed so many innocent lives. We’re supposed to be fighting “a war on terror,” but outside of an occasional drone strike and some ineffectual bombing raids in Syria and Iraq, it’s not much of a war. I get it that Americans are sick and tired of armed conflict and are therefore willing to fight the Jihadists on the cheap. But the problem with that attitude is that it enables the rapid spread of terrorism on a global basis, as well as more audacious terrorist strikes. Right now, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and other assorted Jihadist lunatics are on the march, not only in Mid-Eastern countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and others, but are spreading their wings throughout the entire continent of Africa, and have now move on to Europe with impressive numbers. And as shown by the San Bernardino atrocity, have now also begun infiltrating into the United States. Thus, as shown by over ten thousand years of recorded civilization-when confronted by consummate evil-responding forcefully to that evil becomes a matter of life or death.
America’s withdrawal from center-stage in fighting unspeakable evil can most noticeably be traced back to August 2o13. Hafaz Assad, tyrant dictator of Syria, had already killed tens of thousands of his countrymen in an ongoing civil war being fought to dislodge him from office. But most atrocious of all, he had used chemical warfare against the rebels. That was supposedly a bridge too far for even the laid-back Obama Administration, which has primarily sought to disengage from messy foreign entanglements. President Obama had sternly warned Assad that any further use of chemical warfare would be crossing a “red line in the sand” and would not be tolerated by the U.S. But Assad merely yawned and proceeded to kill more thousands of Syrians through the use of brutal chemicals. I won’t elaborate about how heinous chemical warfare is to the human body; but if you have any doubts, Google it.
Secretary of State John Kerry, and indeed the entire U.S national security and foreign policy apparatus, believed that at that point President Obama would give the green light for launching military strikes against the Assad regime. Instead Obama hemmed and hawed, and then decided to kick the decision about using military force over to Congress. A total recipe for disaster. Congress, as all Americans know, is far too dysfunctional to decide even where to hold their annual softball game, let alone whether to go to war. So, of course, nothing was approved, which was likely Obama’s default position to begin with. As a result of inaction by the U.S. in confronting Assad’s mind-numbing evil, a vacuum was created, into which stepped even more bottomless-pit evil in the form of the ISIS Jihadists. Terrorists all over the globe have been breathing huge sighs of relief ever since, as they’ve watched the U.S. withdraw from center-stage in foreign affairs.
As I’ve written before, it’s all very reminiscent of the way the Roman Empire began its decline and fall when it was at the very peak of its power. Romans became bored and lazy about their luxury living conditions. They would have to attend the Roman Colosseum and watch gladiators being torn to shreds by lions to snap them out of their “ennui” as the French would put it. They, too, were sick of war and hired mercenaries to do the fighting for them. The trouble was that these mercenaries would turn against their Roman benefactors when some other party paid them higher wages. The Roman Army was clearly superior in troop strength and weaponry to the terrorist barbarians of the day such as the Huns, Vandals and Goths. But as I’ve said, the populace no longer had any stomach for armed conflict, and the barbarians kept chipping away at the outer extremes of the Roman Empire. Over a period of a couple of centuries, the strength of the Romans kept being depleted, the barbarians finally broke through the gates, the Roman Empire ceased to exist, and Europe entered the wasteland known as the dark ages. This time when Western civilization falls to the Jihadist barbarians, it will take far less time than it did for Rome to disintegrate.
Interestingly, none of the viable candidates running for President this year are advocating a full frontal military assault against Islamic Jihadism. How unfortunate. Yes, it would require boots on the ground and likely result in American and Western casualties. But the price to be paid would still far less today than say a year from now or longer. Either we confront this existential threat to our western civilization head on, or watch it crumble into a new wasteland of dark ages, from which enlightenment and decency may never recover.