Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.Stumble It!
There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:
“Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!”
I recount that history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today -- another enemy, a different kind of enemy -- has made clear its intentions with attacks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places. But some seem not to have learned history's lessons.
We need to consider the following questions, I would submit:
These are central questions of our time, and we must face them and face them honestly.
- With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?
- Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?
- Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?
- And can we really afford to return to the destructive view that America, not the enemy, but America, is the source of the world's troubles?
We hear every day of new plans, new efforts to murder Americans and other free people. Indeed, the plot that was discovered in London that would have killed hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of innocent men, women and children on aircraft flying from London to the United States should remind us that this enemy is serious, lethal, and relentless.
But this is still not well recognized or fully understood. It seems that in some quarters there's more of a focus on dividing our country than acting with unity against the gathering threats.
It's a strange time:
Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world. (Applause.)
- When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up literally 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers who has been punished for misconduct -- 10 times more -- than the mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror;
- Or when a senior editor at Newsweek disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our armed forces -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard -- as a "mercenary army;"
- When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists; and the once CNN Baghdad bureau chief finally admits that as bureau chief in Baghdad, he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in charge there so that CNN could keep on reporting selective news;
- And it's a time when Amnesty International refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay -- which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare -- "the gulag of our times." It’s inexcusable. (Applause.)
The struggle we are in -- the consequences are too severe -- the struggle too important to have the luxury of returning to that old mentality of "Blame America First."