You'd think that somewhere in America, a major cafeteria that caters to liberals had just run out of chocolate milk. A mere six months into the "Iraq phase" in the war on terrorism, liberals are already whining about having to fork over a few bucks to do the job that Bill Clinton neglected for 8 years as Osama bin Laden ran around bombing embassies and American warships like he was the bad guy in a Bruce Willis movie. Meanwhile, countries like Iraq and Afghanistan--run by ruthless, despotic regimes--were thriving as breeding grounds for extremists.
On Sunday night, President George W. Bush announced that he would ask Congress for $87 billion to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan and to continue military and intelligence operations in the area. Sure, that may sound like a lot of money, but really what it boils down to about $250 per American. That's a pretty small price to pay for "security insurance" to prevent another trillion dollar 9/11 attack on the US and/or its allies--and the Democrats know it. That's why despite their constant bellyaching and their use of this issue as a political pawn against the President, they're going to vote overwhelmingly in favor of this funding allocation. George W. Bush is doing the right thing--and the Democrats know it, despite the fact that they're using it as a lame excuse to spin their bowls on the heads of the American people. They just figure that if they up their anti-Bush rhetoric a few more decibels, voters won't be wise enough to notice that their words don't match their actions when it comes time for Congress to approve the funding. Of course, the implied alternative is that we can just adopt the Democratic policy of the past decade: Do nothing, spend that $87 billion or more on liberal boondoggles like universal health care and the 40-year old "war on poverty"--and just sit back and absorb whatever else the jihadists have in mind for us and then pay the bills at their leisure.
In a post-9/11 speech he made in Vancouver, BC, on November 9th, 2001, even modern liberalism's favorite poster-boy, Bill Clinton, admitted that starving and oppressed people are prime targets for terrorist infiltration and that far more money was needed to prevent another attack of 9/11 magnitude:
"...We also have to create a world where we have more partners and fewer potential terrorists. And how are we going to do that? We have to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the 21st century world, number one. Number two, we have to deal with the fact that most terrorists come from places that aren't democracies... Ten years ago I said it ought to matter to us how people govern themselves because democracies by and large don't go to war with each other, don't sponsor terrorist acts against each other, and are more likely to be reliable partners, protect the environment, and abide by the law. Democracy is a stabilizing force. It provides a nonviolent means for resolving disputes. I believe that. And it's no accident that most of these terrorists come from non-democratic countries. "
In this same speech, Clinton also emphasized that millions of dollars more in US foreign aid should be allocated to these countries. Ever the academic, Clinton understood the theory behind the need to rid these terror-breeding countries of their despot leaders, and the financial sacrifice required to do so; however, Clinton--unlike George W. Bush--lacked the courage and conviction to carry out what he knew would be required to prevent another terrorist attack on US soil.
Liberals who now criticize Bush's spending plans in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to forget that it was only two years ago that Bush told the American people that they were at war with a different kind of enemy, that this war wouldn't be a conventional one, and that it would require a great deal of time, money and patience. At the time--with the horrors of September 11th still fresh in their minds--liberals were only too happy to oblige. Now, like little kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, they're unable to stay focused. Maybe if Bush would allow for one terrorist hit on American soil per year, it would help keep the liberals' attention. Good thing Bush is more concerned with doing what is right than he is with appeasing liberals and silencing myopic critics. No democracy was ever built in 6 months, yet this is what the liberals fully expect. Or at least they say they do--and figure that voters are ignorant enough to believe that this is realistic.
Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy--no stranger to throwing in big white towels (except maybe when it comes to the towel hamper at fitness facilities)--seems keen to toss in yet another one with the war on terrorism. Bush has just succeeded in drawing the jihadists of the world into Iraq's free-fire zone, and Kennedy already wants Bush to publicize a plan that will let terrorists know when the US will be vacating Iraq. I suppose the concept of a long run, of any kind, is something that's just far too foreign for Kennedy.
Bush realizes that he does need some support from the international community, but he must be very careful in striking a balance between getting financial and military support from other countries for the ongoing efforts in Iraq, and handing over too much control to UN-member countries that don't have any experience in nation building. To do so would send a strong message to terrorists and despots that Iraq is once again open for business.
The goal is--and should be--to have both Iraq and Afghanistan being run by their own people in a democratic fashion as soon as possible, but this isn't going to happen overnight. No one ever said that it would. From 1948 until 1952, the United States spent the equivalent of about $100 billion today to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan. Even more was spent over the years on the Cold War. But of course, the liberals figured fighting communism was a waste of money, too.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told a House subcommittee in March that Iraq could generate $50 billion to $100 billion of oil revenue over the next two to three years. As such, Bush should focus on getting that oil to the marketplace as soon as possible, so that Iraq can finance its own reconstruction and repay the US taxpayers for their investment. In the meantime, if push comes to shove and some extra belt-tightening is needed, Bush may have to repeal some of the tax cuts that he granted earlier this year to some of America's most wealthy citizens. I'm sure they won't mind.
A glance back at history reveals that another President--Abraham Lincoln--didn't have an easy ride during the Civil War when he stood steadfast and did what was right and what needed to be done. George W. Bush is now facing the same kind of challenge from his critics--but even many of them realize that he's doing the right thing, despite what they may be trying to get the public to believe for political reasons. And as was the case Lincoln, at the end of this long road leading to the eventual eradication of terrorism, years or even decades from now, Bush will be seen for who he really is--the right man at exactly the right time, who did precisely the right thing.