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PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

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When the going gets tough, the tough are supposed to get going. But not in Obama World. Not in Hillary World, either. When the telephone rings at 3 o'clock in the morning the safe response is to let it ring. It might be bad news. Time to turn over and try to get back to sleep.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's long-anticipated and much-feared report on its investigation into what happened at the American legation in Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, was devastating in its particulars. The senators cite chapter and verse of the kind of incompetence and irresponsibility that we once thought was all you could expect in banana republics and backwaters of the undeveloped world.

But it was more than that: The report, and the official response to it, revealed the truly terrifying. What kind of idiot country are we becoming in this second decade of the 21st century? An official spokesman for the State Department, which imagines it's the keeper of the nation's conscience, suggested that when the going gets tough, the tough run home. Maybe the world is just too dangerous for Americans to get out and about. "Hard decisions must be made when it comes to whether the United States should operate in dangerous overseas locations." Quote, unquote.

There is no understanding of history in the nooks and crannies of this administration, that the United States has never retreated from "operating in dangerous overseas locations," and the day it does the nation is finished. Not so long ago everyone understood that, and gloried in the determination that such a day would never come. Stonewall Jackson warned soldiers "never take counsel with your fears." It was an admonition for one and all.

Franklin D. Roosevelt did not say, on Dec. 8, 1941, that "the empire of Japan" looked pretty tough at Pearl Harbor, with all those bombs and stuff, and maybe Congress should make a "hard decision" to bring everybody home. Really, who would miss all that sand in Hawaii?

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower did not say, on June 7, 1945, that he had looked over the carnage at Omaha Beach of the day before and cabled the White House that "hard decisions must be made when it comes to whether the United States should operate in dangerous overseas locations." All that rain, not to say anything about the mud, blood and gore, and not an umbrella in anybody's backpack. Who needs Normandy, anyway? Why couldn't everyone just catch a train to Paris and spend the afternoon with an aperitif on the Champs Elysees?

A mere spokesman at the State Department, which imagines that its true mission is to give away what blood and guts of others win, does not speak for the nation. Such a spokesman does not necessarily speak for the president and his secretary of State, but this remark, which will be carefully read and considered in every foreign ministry and terrorist's cave where evil men meet to conspire against the last best hope of men yearning to breathe free, reflects the clear and present mindset of both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. We see this mindset reflected in everything the president and his minions do. This is the mindset Hillary wants to take to the White House.

We have heard no one at the White House or in Foggy Bottom step up to disown this poisonous sentiment. The cocker spaniels and poodles of press and tube have not even noticed the remark and its obvious implications for America's place in the world, and how the rest of the world will regard and respond to America.

The Senate Intelligence Committee barely mentions Hillary Clinton in the summary of its investigation. There's no mystery about why. The Republicans on the Intelligence Committee got the strongest report they could, and the price was going easy on the woman the Democrats expect to be their candidate for president in 2016.

"The great question of our day," said Ariel Sharon, who died only the other day, "is whether the Jewish people of Israel can find within us the will to survive as a nation." This is the question asked not just of Israel, but the question that haunts every thoughtful man and woman in the West, where we see all around us confusion and complacency in the face of challenge. Blind ambition is never a substitute for leadership. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton prove it every day.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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