- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Detractors of the U.S. war on global terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere frequently question whether the civilization we seek to protect is morally superior to what we aim to arrest or to destroy. The question itself awakens strong passions and deep convictions, unlike calculating the speed of light. The meaning of life must be confronted. The roots of cherished values embraced as much from instinct and intuition as from reason or empiricism must be explored.

But while bowing to the possibility of error since moral scales are intrinsically problematic, an answer should be forthcoming. The purpose is neither to gloat, nor to deride nor to humiliate our enemies and adversaries. Indeed, much wisdom and prudence is captured in the biblical injunction, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." On rare occasions, as at present, however, where our opponents have declared and pursued physical, spiritual and ideological warfare against our way of life in the United States with the fanaticism of Captain Ahab and the malignity of Adolph Hitler, moral silence or agnosticism is unacceptable.

Nations crumble when challenged if their moral foundations go unattended. Winning wars means fielding men and women eager to fight for the cause and electrified by civilian support and firmly convinced of the righteousness of the military mission. Further, as Edward Gibbon wrote authoritatively in "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "All that is human must retrograde if it do not advance." And moral climb comes with understanding, not unthinking recitation of the past. What should convince that our way of life in the contemporary United States is morally superior to all others? In combination and acknowledging minor exceptions to the rule, consider the following:

We preach and practice legal and social equality among individuals irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or disability. It is commonplace for racial or ethnic minorities and women to occupy seats of power in the U.S. Supreme Court and in state tribunals, in Congress, in the executive branch and in the foreign service. Compare this to the subjugation of females in the Middle East and Asia, which finds expression in infanticide, omnipresent legal and cultural fetters, and a lifetime of virtual house arrest.

In the United States, we decry religious hierarchies in favor of toleration and mutual respect. But can that be said in countries where Judaism, Islam or Hinduism prevails?

We covet and enforce the right to be left alone and to civil liberties with a fastidiousness that exalts the individual over the state, even at the price of some social chaos or tumult. We crown each citizen with procedural protections against government abuses unrivaled elsewhere in the history of the universe. Exemplary are the rights to a jury selected among peers; proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the exclusion of legally tainted evidence; a speedy and public trial; a prohibition of unreasonable searches or seizures; publicly provided defense counsel; a proscription of double jeopardy; independent and neutral judges; a suspect's right to silence coupled with Miranda warnings, and, to the writ of habeas corpus, except in cases of rebellion or invasion. Moreover, the Constitution coupled with judicial review stands leagues above any other governing covenant in the world in protecting minorities from the tyranny of the majority, for example, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In sum, the rule of law and individual liberty a hallmark of community morality stands nowhere more spotless than in the United States.

Think also of the aftermath of September 11. We, speaking through President Bush and Congress, generally assailed maltreatment or violence against Arab Muslims or Sikhs mistaken for the former. We have relentlessly investigated and prosecuted the wrongdoers. We have scrupulously followed the rule of law in searching for September 11 or al Qaeda suspects or material witnesses. Some have alleged FBI violations of civil liberties, but none have yet established their claims in a court of law or with credible facts tested in the crucible of cross-examination.

When we liberated Kabul from the claws of Taliban and al Qaeda, we did not dance in the streets to celebrate the carnage among the enemy. Contrast the frenzied rejoicing in several lands in the Middle East and South Asia over our September 11 civilian casualties. If there is any evidence conceivable more conclusive of the morality of our military mission in Afghanistan than the twinkling eyes and frissons of glee among the countless emancipated from the serfdom of Taliban, it does not readily come to mind.

And has any nation ever acted more selflessly than the United States in freeing Kosovar Albanians from the lashes of Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic?

The brain drain from abroad to the United States is fueled largely from our economic, political and social allure. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, pour over our borders in droves craving to assimilate into our way of life. Is there any corresponding and morally telling immigration phenomenon in the Middle East, Asia or Africa?

We believe and generally practice the greatest good for the greatest number as the best feasible loadstar for governing. That precept is virtually heretical or ignored in most of the world.

We believe and behave as if every man or woman were a king or queen, although none is entitled to wear a crown. Elsewhere in the world, communities are ordinarily highly stratified, elitist and snobbish.

When we Pledge Allegiance and sing the National Anthem, our hearts should throb at living in the most moral nation that imperfect mankind has ever erected. If any should question the morality of our war against terrorism, a quiet but resolute defense should answer. Summoning all the empirical, experiential, intuitive and spiritual evidence accessible by human faculties, we are protecting a way of life morally superior to all others. And we invite and welcome those who would dissent and help to ameliorate our remaining warts and shortcomings.


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