- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

Memorandum for President George W. Bush: The speech you will give tonight about the status of and prospects for the war will likely prove to be among the most important of your presidency. In the final analysis, the American people and history will both judge the latter principally by your conduct of the former.

Indeed, you were rehired by the voters largely because they had more confidence in your leadership as a war president than in your opponent’s judgment and abilities. To continue enjoying this confidence, however, the speech must not be seen as a box-checking exercise in which today’s theme will shortly be replaced, once again, by a renewed focus on domestic issues.

If you want the public to internalize and respond positively to the fact we are engaged in a life-and-death struggle that will determine the security of our children and grandchildren, you must make the war once again a central

and visible — focus of this administration.

—Such a focus will require, among other things, the following:

• You must provide an unvarnished explanation of the nature of the enemies we fight and the character of the war they have thrust upon us. At the moment, the most dangerous foes are terrorists who adhere to a political ideology some call Islamofascism. Not all Muslims are Islamofascists, but the latter hope to use their violence against non-Muslim democracies, and most especially the United States, as part of a comprehensive strategy to make both Muslims and non-Muslims submit to their form of religious totalitarianism. If you expect the American people to support this war, we can no longer obscure, out of misplaced political correctness, what makes our enemies tick.

• Neither can we afford to pull punches about what makes these Islamofascists so dangerous. And that is the support they receive — directly or indirectly — in their death struggle with us from various nations around the world. The latter include: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Cuba and Venezuela.

It is an uncomfortable but unavoidable reality that some of these countries — notably, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — are said to be our allies at the moment. In this, as in many other things, you need to level with the American people: Authoritarian governments that have little affinity for our democratic system and values are notoriously capable of both supporting us and enabling our enemies. You are right to insist they are likely to be reliable friends only if and when they become democracies that respect and promote freedom.

• That brings us to the nature of the war we fight. You must emphasize that we confront a truly global threat. While Iraq is a central front in this war, it is but one of many places in which we must defeat Islamofascists and their allies. We can take great pride in having eliminated a regime there that sponsored, armed and offered safe haven to terrorists, even as it brutally repressed its own people. Our success around the world depends partly on our now ensuring something better emerges from the liberation of Iraq.

• In that connection, you should take on directly those who talk about how we are losing the war in Iraq. That is objectively not the case today — but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The terrorists now murderously afflicting Iraqis and coalition forces are emboldened by the prominence given by Western media and politicians to their attacks on innocent civilians and others. They are only encouraged by talk of timetables for withdrawals, polls showing declining support here for the war and reports our military is overstretched, causing a redoubling of their efforts to commit well-publicized and demoralizing assassinations, ambushes and car-bombings.

Even more troubling is the legitimacy afforded their cause by politicians and nongovernmental organizations who equate the efforts of American forces to perform dangerous, but vital, internment operations with totalitarian genocides of the past. Those who wish to engage legitimate democratic opposition to government policy have a responsibility to behave in ways that do not imperil our victory. It is not enough to pay lip service to supporting the troops while saying and doing things that destroy their morale and embolden those they fight.

• Finally, since this is a global and protracted struggle against an ideology determined to destroy us, we must be prepared to fight our foes with every appropriate instrument. That will not in every case require military forces. But in some cases, it clearly will. We must ensure we retain the numbers and quality of troops the nation needs.

We have never before in our history tried to wage a sustained global shooting war with an all-volunteer force. There are many compelling reasons for wanting to rely on such volunteers, as opposed to conscripts. The American people need to understand, however, that our ability to continue doing so depends utterly on our prevailing in places like Iraq and on the willingness of young people and their families to serve the country. Those who oppose armed forces recruiters’ visits to schools and universities or otherwise interfere with them will not prevent us from waging the war we have no choice but to fight. They may, however, require us to do so with forces that are obliged to serve rather than those who do so freely.

Tell the American people the truth, Mr. President, and they will continue providing the support we need to prevail for our children and grandchildren.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.


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