Friday, July 27, 2007

Speaking abroad without bashing the USA

Last month Fred Thompson spoke to the Policy Exchange in London. I recommend you read the entire text, and one aspect of this speech that really caught my attention is that Fred did not apologize for any perceived wrongs committed by the US. Fred did not criticize the US for making mistakes and causing problems instead of dealing with problems in the world. What a refreshing difference there is between Fred and, oh take your pick, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, et al. He was well received by these Brits because instead of pandering to their perceptions of the US he spoke about the problems that the US, UK, and the West must be ready to deal with. I won't cut and paste all of it, but here is just a sampling of the good parts.

In the long progress of the world toward liberty, it was not by chance that this lowly province of the Roman Empire became a great teacher of democracy and the model of self-government. And it wasn’t just luck that turned a troublesome British colony into the inspiration for all those who seek freedom. There is a reason why Britain and America were thrown together as partners in this world. The things that unite the American and British peoples? They don’t change with the names of leaders or with the passing of years.

It was Harold MacMillan who best summed up the shared experiences of British and American leaders in the last century. In his later years, Lord Stockton was asked what he considered the greatest challenge in all his years as a statesman. And in that English way, he put it in a word: “Events, my dear boy, events.”

We must conclude that the greatest test of leadership – in your country or mine, in this time or any other – can be simply stated. We must shape events, and not be left at their mercy. And in all things, to protect ourselves and to assure the peace, the great democracies of the world must stick together. We must be willing to make tough decisions today in order to avert bigger problems tomorrow. We must be prepared to meet threats before threats become tragedies.

Changes in leadership on both sides of the Atlantic will give us new opportunities. Often in the history of nations, leaders rise to meet the times. These times require those with the wisdom and courage to see past the next election cycle.

Many in Europe simply have a different view from that of the United States as to the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism. They think that the threat is overblown. That despite September 11th, and July 7th and other attacks in Europe and elsewhere, America is the main target and therefore the problem is basically an American one. The fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq at a particular point in time resolves the matter for them. Also, they see no meaningful connection between terrorist groups and countries like Iran.

Admittedly, even some in America think that the threat is overblown, and that if we had not gone into Iraq, we’d have no terrorism problem.

However, most Americans feel differently. We understand that the Western world is in an international struggle with jihadists who see this struggle as part of a conflict that has gone on for centuries, and who won’t give up until Western countries are brought to their knees. I agree with this view. I believe that the forces of civilization must work together with common purpose to defeat the terrorists who for their own twisted purposes have murdered thousands, and who are trying to acquire technology to murder millions more.

When terrorists in their video performances pledge more and bigger attacks to come, against targets in both Europe and America, these are not to be shrugged off as idle boasts. They must be taken at their word.

When the president of Iran shares his nightmare visions before cheering crowds, those are not just the fanatic’s version of an empty applause line. The only safe assumption is that he means it. If we know anything from modern history, it is that when fanatical tyrants pledge to “wipe out” an entire nation, we should listen. We must gather our alliance, and do all in our power to make sure that such men do not gain the capability to carry out their evil ambitions.

It seems that the 2008 contest for POTUS has taken off earlier than ever before, and lately there have been a slew of blogs that are critical of a candidate's style, wife, son, dog, etc etc. I just thought I would post about a speech given to an audience that can't vote in the next election. A lot of people have been especially critical of Fred lately because he has not officially announced that he is running for POTUS. Does anybody want to talk about the substance of his speech to the Political Exchange in London? Can anyone remember that there really are important things in this world that actually do trump style. Just wonderin'.

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