- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 4, 2003

As we enter the political season, it is clear there is a nexus between what is at stake in foreign policy and domestic politics. Both are in crisis, for the same reason: Pre-2000 entrenched and somnolent political power failed to serve the nation’s interests in foreign policy or the people’s interests in California.

Even a casual observer has to be disturbed at the apparent inability of segments of our society and the mainstream media to understand the gravity of what we face in the war on terror, especially in Iraq.

The media seem intent on frightening the people and thereby trying to weaken American resolve in the war. They didn’t favor us going to war in Iraq, and, once commenced, they raped the truth in their reporting of its conduct. The average viewer, left to his own devices, could easily have concluded we were losing, or were about to lose, until just before the fall of Baghdad.

None of the dire consequences predicted by the war’s opponents have materialized. So the mainstream media and its political allies now treat us to the inane and politically motivated speculation that our success on the battlefield has produced a quagmire in the aftermath of victory and has even undercut our success in the war on terror — as if they are unrelated.

The mainstream media have given the homicide bomber a mystique he does not deserve. As a historian, I can think of no instance where suicide as a tactic or strategy showed anything but the sign and reality of defeat. I also see the disconnect of the media from history as both striking and dangerous; they seem to have forgotten we have faced a worse manifestation of the homicide bomber in the past: the kamikaze.

Japan’s leaders, with the sure knowledge they were losing the war, unleashed the kamikaze, an extra measure of the zest for death, against the American fleet off the coast in the battle of Okinawa. The carnage (32 ships sunk, 200 damaged, and 5,000 Americans dead) was ghastly but not decisive.

The mayhem was sufficiently horrendous, however, that some in the upper echelons of American political and military circles feared that, if the homefront knew its full extent, people would recoil from the battle and demand that the fleet be pulled out of range. To prevent this, censorship, already a factor in the war effort, was used and the details about the carnage were obfuscated until the end of the war.

While I do not advocate censorship, in its absence the mainstream media’s reporting of the war on terror, especially in Iraq, has been abysmally irresponsible.

Now the Bush administration has given the United Nations another nod. In view of the U.N.’s recent performance, this move is puzzling.

However, the administration knows that to give the U.N. determinative power in Iraq would put at risk the whole enterprise there and, indeed, a favorable outcome of the war on terror.

We can expect France, a de facto enemy whose power exists solely in the Security Council, and her adherents will gut or reject any U.S. resolution, as they have before, which will leave us free to do what we can and must.

Domestically, California is an interesting case study. Some stuffed shirts, in California and elsewhere, have tut-tutted the recall so soon after an election — and its methodology. As a conservative, however, I am pleased about it.

The people of California have shown they are tired of overtaxation, crippling regulation and deception about the state’s economic well-being, and have determined to do something to correct it.

I’m also delighted Californians seems prepared to take a chance with a candidate whose lifestory embodies the American dream. Some have described Arnold Schwarzenegger as just a body-builder and actor, but those who know his lifestory see great deal more than that. He has overcome hardship of the most bitter and personal kind and was not diminished by it. Instead, he came to America and used his native intelligence and drive to make the American dream his own.

The acquisition of wealth for its own sake has never been Arnold’s primary objective. He has used his wealth to promote the public good. He has not merely given money to those less fortunate than he but also has shown them that their capacities are limited only by the drive and imagination they use to take advantage of good fortune.

Arnold isn’t Mother Teresa, and I join those who disagree with his positions on abortion and gun control. But in present-day California,he is clearly the first hope and best chance for successfully countering the state’s economic woes. He possesses the character, wit and courage to create a partnership between himself and the governed that encourages the proposition the state treasury should be used for the benefit of all and that the state doesn’t have unfettered and unaccountable claim on the people’s largess.

The study of history is the study of testing. People, nations and empires have passed or failed those tests. I believe that, during the last 90 years, history has asked the U.S. to shoulder the bulk of the effort required to preserve civilization itself.

George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger bring transcendent visions to the arena of public policy. Both men have also had to conquer the brashness and inadequacies of immaturity to gain the capacity to accept history’s mantle.

In the field of national leadership, Mr. Bush, up to this point, has shown himself equal to the task of vanquishing our enemies, preserving our liberties, and gifting those liberties to those whom we liberate.

In California, an adopted son of the American dream has decided to make himself available, at considerable sacrifice, to the people of his state to resurrect with them the dream and opportunity he found and embraced with gusto and obvious affection.

Indeed, I believe the success of both men is necessary to secure, for the country and the world, a tomorrow worth having.

William Goldcamp is a diplomatic historian and a former intelligence analyst.


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