“Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 8, 1941
President Bush has an opportunity to pull off a political and military masterstroke when Congress returns from its August break by asking them for a formal declaration of war against worldwide terrorism. It is a request the president should have made on September 12, 2001, just as FDR did before a joint session of Congress the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when our Pacific fleet lay in ruins and 3,000 American servicemen became the first casualties in what would become the Second World War.
Of course, Roosevelt recognized that Japan was not alone in its desire to destroy the United States. Consider his decree to Congress concerning the governments of Germany and Italy:
“On the morning of December 11, the Government of Germany, pursuing its course of world conquest, declared war against the United States. The long-known and the long-expected has thus taken place. The forces endeavoring to enslave the entire world now are moving toward this hemisphere. Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization. Delay invites great danger. Rapid and united effort by all of the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism. Italy also has declared war against the United States. I therefore request the Congress to recognize a state of war between the United States and Germany, and between the United States and Italy.”
Like it or not, we are now engaged in another world war, one that once again pits the forces of oppression against the forces of liberty. Although only Japan attacked the United States, the Axis powers of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Tojo’s Japan together tried to enslave the civilized world. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations, connected and motivated by radical Islam and supported by a handful of mostly middle-eastern governments, are their equivalent in today’s world.
Since the formation of the United Nations, with its unenforceable cease-fires and its moral equivalence brigade, the U.S. Government has never executed a formal declaration of war against any other nation. Is it a coincidence that America has never won a war in that period of time? Of course not. Even the much lauded 1991 Persian Gulf War stopped well short of the kind of victory America knew in World War II.
When Congress returns from their summer vacations, they should be met with a demand from the White House for a formal declaration of war. The president should immediately stop referring to “the war in Iraq” or “the war in Afghanistan” and hereafter refer to them as “fronts” in the war against terrorism.
I believe the American people would applaud such action. I think the reason many Americans are losing heart over the effort in Iraq is that they see us playing games with our enemies while they blow up our troops. A declaration of war would put the world on notice that the United States of America will never again accept a cease-fire from the U.N., and that nothing short of total victory will ever be acceptable again.
Then listen to the Democrats scream. Let Ted Kennedy rant about “George Bush’s war.” Let John Kerry protest this action in order to appease the narrow, left-wing fringe of his party that nominates Democratic presidential candidates. Let Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate try to block the momentum that will be created by the president’s determination to take on terrorism once and for all. Let Hillary Clinton try to straddle that fence. And let the Democrats head into the final stretch of this off-year election with an albatross of appeasement around their necks.
© Copyright 2006 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet web sites, including TheConservativeVoice.com and GOPUSA.com, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers may e-mail him at email@example.com.