By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
How is it that Ronald Reagan was able to bring to an end the threat of communism without firing a shot, but we have had more attacks aimed at harming Americans than ever before?
It’s almost a rhetorical question, we all know the answer, but it seems we are unwilling to learn the lessons of history.
Peace through strength.
That was Reagan’s national defense policy.
And with that policy, Reagan was able to negotiate, for the first time ever, a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Peace through strength.
It was because of that stand that allowed Reagan to push for the removal of the Berlin Wall and to push for democratic expansion across the globe.
But when he spoke, he spoke from a position of strength.
When we speak from a position of weakness, America is not respected, and those seeking to do us harm do not fear any consequences.
Jimmy Carter’s administration was an example of this when 50 Americans were taken hostage in Iran in 1979, and it wasn’t until the election of Reagan, on the day he was inaugurated, the Iranians set them free.
They knew there was a difference in the way Reagan would address the issue, and the way Carter addressed it.
After the attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush also focused on the same philosophy Reagan used — peace through strength.
That philosophy saw us through tensions with the Iranians, with the North Koreans, and with the Palestinians and Israelis.
This is not a partisan view.
John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, put the world on notice when he said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
He also stated, in that same inaugural address in 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
And finally, he ended his address with, “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
I wonder if Kennedy would be allowed in the Democratic Party with that type of language today.
There used to be common threads of American society that ran through both parties, and foreign affairs was an area that both agreed required a strong military presence.
Not to be used as an invading force, but as a deterrent to tyranny. It was to be used to protect American interests abroad and to keep the horrors of war from our shores.
Freedom meant something. Liberty meant something, and we were willing to defend it to the far reaches of the earth.
We were willing to help those in need, but not by simply feeding the world, but by educating the world by, as Kennedy said, “knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
Without two key pieces of equipment, we are lost in providing a beacon of hope to the world.
The first is a moral compass, and Kennedy referred to God’s work as that moral compass.
As we have continued to deny a connection to our faith, we have slipped from our example to the world.
The other is a strong military presence so that those who seek to deny freedom at the end of a sword or with terror will be challenged.
What we have seen instead is a North Korea on the brink of delivering a nuclear warhead. We have seen Iran edging closer to nuclear capability.
With our current policies that lack a moral compass and a higher concern for the cost of freedom rather than the defense of it, we will shortly live in a world where North Korea is nuclear capable of threatening our South Korean and Japanese allies, and possibly even American targets on the mainland.
We will see a nuclear capable Iran with extremists a heartbeat away from using these devices in an all-out, blaze-of-glory jihad against free nations.
Israel will be wiped from the face of the earth, and more terrorist activity will take place on the streets of our cities as the battle we refused to keep on foreign soil continues to close in around us.
Maybe then we will decide to focus on the faith of those like Kennedy and Reagan, and return to a moral justification for democracy and its defense around the world. Maybe then we will realize that America is not the cause of world strife but the glowing example of how to reduce it.
Until then, don’t be surprised that the terrorists have come to live among us. Don’t be shocked when it happens somewhere besides the cities along the coast.
When it happens in Dallas or Kansas City or Chicago, maybe then we will understand why peace through strength was better than appeasement and weakness.
Soon, I am sure the schools will return to nuclear bomb drills, where children learn to duck and cover under their desks, waiting for the megaton explosions, or they practice terrorist drills on how to hide from the enemies around us.
This is the message we are sending to the world. We are no longer interested in planting the seeds of freedom and doing God’s work. To the contrary, we believe that it’s our fault that extremists attack freedom. We have taken their side.
And they know it.