First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
How Will We Know If We Won?
Having decided to go after Osama bin Laden's group and the Taliban directly, President Bush is handling the assault on Afghanistan about as well as it can be imagined.
Coupling the attacks with humanitarian aid, launching no attacks from Pakistani or Saudi soil, and making sure that other nations participated from the start were all excellent decisions.
My greatest fear, after the concern we all share for the young men and women whose lives are on the line in this war, is that the administration may have limited their goals too much.
Even if we somehow managed to destroy that one terrorist group, what does that accomplish?
Suicide terrorists are still killing innocent civilians in Israel. Other terrorist groups, having been shown the way by bin Laden's group, and happily supported by governments like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, will still be in business and still likely to make targets of the United States.
If we limit the war merely to bin Laden and the Taliban, then we have lost the war, since we will have only made martyrs.
And even if we manage to persuade them not to attack the U.S. any more, if we still leave Israel exposed to the constant onslaught of terrorists -- if, indeed, we make them more exposed, having removed ourselves as an alternate target -- then what does it say about us, that we consider a war "won" if the barbarians leave us alone, and go a-murdering in somebody else's house.
Right now, our war aims have to be limited because we have so many coalition partners with so many conflicting needs. Perhaps too many.
Since Iran, which hates the Taliban for their own reasons, is "cooperating" with us, what can this coalition possibly be against, given that Iran is one of the primary state sponsors of terror, and one of the most dangerous?
Does our government really take seriously Sudan's protestations that they are now suddenly "against" terror, when all they did was give us the addresses of terrorists that (a) we probably already knew about and (b) they had probably already given plenty of warning to go into hiding?
The reason we were not able to finish off Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War was partly because we had to limit ourselves to the goals of the coalition and could not go farther. The result is nuclear and biological weapons programs in full swing -- with the strong likelihood that these weapons will be used, given Saddam's track record.
I hope someone has pointed out to Secretary of State Powell that the coalition is not a goal in itself, but merely a means to an end.
The end in mind is the destruction of terrorism by the removal of uncivilized governments that sponsor terrorists.
But if we assemble a coalition that prevents us from accomplishing that end, what good was it?
If other terrorist-sponsoring states can buy immunity by joining our coalition against one terrorist group and one terrorist government, then we have the wrong coalition.
The worst outcome of this war would be to give even the tiniest concession to the Palestinians at a time when it would be perceived as being the result of the attack on the U.S.
If the Palestinians get even more concessions as a result of an attack on the U.S., what possible result can there be except more attacks on the U.S. in order to get more concessions?
Remember what happened when we tried to ransom hostages? That's right -- more hostages were taken, since we had just established that hostage-taking was profitable.
Likewise, if Palestinians profit from terrorism, we had better not be surprised if there is more terror.
The Palestinians have never kept a single agreement except under threat of military destruction. Their goal of destroying Israel has never altered. The only time their leaders try to control their people's anti-Israel and anti-U.S. actions is when they are trying to influence American public opinion.
But at those times they are so successful in controlling the attacks and demonstrations that it is clear they could probably control the terrorism whenever they wanted -- thus proving that the current Palestinian leadership is, in fact, a sponsor and supporter of terrorism.
An Israeli friend recently told me that he thinks Israel should simply march all its troops out of the West Bank and Gaza and let the Palestinians have their own government. Then, he said, if the Palestinians try any more attacks against Israel, we'll have complete justification for destroying their military.
But I disagree with him. I think Israel is more vulnerable now than it has ever been before. An independent Palestinian state would be a new barbarian power at Israel's very doorstep, sworn to destroy Israel. War would be inevitable and brutal. How many more Israelis would die in such a needless war?
I believe we should stop pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to stay his hand against the people killing his citizens.
Of course, as long as the American media and the American universities keep up their anti-Israel propaganda campaign, it's hard for the U.S. government to do the decent thing and let Israel defend itself the way we insist we have the right to defend ourselves against terrorism.
Our media is now at the point where it routinely reports, at least in the headlines, "Israeli troops kill more Palestinians." As if they were going out picking off random Palestinians.
When Palestinians die from Israeli bullets, it is because they are attacking the Israeli soldiers. There is no "kill-em-if-you-see-em" policy in the Israeli government. That's the Palestinian Authority's policy.
As for American universities ... how long, O Lord, how long?
In most American universities, politically correct factions have taken complete control of university life. Right now these professors are jumping up and down in their effort to persuade our children that to defend ourselves against deadly terrorism is evil.
The students are subjected to a constant diet of anti-Americanism. Even now, with America under attack, our college students are being told, almost everywhere, that America deserved this attack and our reply should be complete capitulation on every point of difference between us and the rest of the world.
Why do we tolerate state-supported universities that, instead of educating our children to be productive members of our society, train them to become enemies of everything good about America?
Worst of all, these professors have lost all connection with the concept of intellectual rigor or reason or even scholarship.
The ideas they teach are unjustified by any credible evidence, mutually contradictory, and often silly on their face. The only reason they aren't laughed out of the university is that in today's university, it's against the rules to laugh. Confronted with politically correct stupidity, it's "insensitive" to laugh.
Academic freedom is not guaranteed in the Constitution. Neither is tenure. Let Yale and Harvard and Duke do what they like. But at tax-supported institutions, let's fire the professors who are teaching our students to hate the society that pays their bills.
Believe me, within fifteen minutes you'd never hear a peep of political correctness from most of the poseurs who fervently preach it right now.
They're sheep. They'll bleat whatever ideas seem popular or useful to their careers.
Right now, in order to get most good jobs in America, you have to have a college degree. Which means we have no choice but to send our children to those universities where the enemies of our culture are eager to try to train them to hate everything we value.
If we can't elect politicians willing to take the heat long enough to clean up this absurd situation, then we need to start finding alternatives to the university.
If we don't send our students there, the politically correct professors will lose their jobs the old-fashioned way.
Or -- here's a thought -- maybe the professors who detest political correctness and see it for the heap of ignorant anti-American smarter-than-thou slogans that it is could speak up, loudly, and denounce the stupidity of their politically correct colleagues.
A shocking thing might happen.
They might find that they are in the majority.
Then our universities could return to being institutions for training young minds to be more, not less, intelligent, rational, and rigorous.
And our children might once again be taught simple principles like the responsibility of a government to protect its citizens against violence -- by using, if necessary, the collective violence of the nation to eliminate the ability of irrational enemies to harm them.
Copyright © 2001 by Orson Scott Card.
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