Pat Boone Asks A Good Question...
Tell Me, Then – What Is the Answer?
By Pat Boone
"War is not the answer! We're doing OK, and besides, they're just too much for us. We can't win; we don't have the resources or the skill or the manpower. Let's just go about our business, pay our taxes, and not make waves. Let's just dissolve our military; we don't really need it anyway." Words spoken in 2006? No, words just like these were heard frequently in the early 1770s, from many of the early colonists in Maryland and New York and Massachusetts, some of the almost 30 percent of this incipient nation who were "loyalists."
Did you think all our citizens were gung-ho for freedom when our Revolution broke out? Surprise! Many thousands were willing, even preferred, to live under the burdensome yoke of King George III, to pay taxes without any representation, and to surrender any idea of self-governance for themselves and their children forever – in return for "peace." Scroll forward about 140 years: "What are we doing? What happens in Europe shouldn't concern us! Let the English, the French, the Italians take care of their own problems. The Germans haven't done anything to us, and if we just stay out of it, maybe they won't. Who made Europe our business anyway?"
Are you old enough to remember hearing those words from so many American citizens in the earlier years of the last century? Before we were embroiled in World War I, supposedly "the Last Great War," the war that vanquished the Kaiser and the German plan to rule Europe? The war that established the United States as a world superpower, a benevolent "big brother" to all who would live free and independently?
Those were the familiar voices and mindset of people who, understandably, just wanted to be left alone, uninvolved in neighbors' problems, free to live their lives to themselves in the hope that nobody with evil intentions would come knocking at their door. "Let all those other people sort out their own problems," they would echo, "it doesn't affect us." But like an ordinary homeowner who runs next door to help a neighbor screaming for help, America sent troops to help our friends and allies defend themselves against violent armies determined to overrun and subjugate them. And we found ourselves in a war we had to win. And win we did.
Now forward just about 25 years: "Who cares about that Hitler guy? Why should it concern us? It's a European problem; let them work it out. He hasn't done anything to us anyway. We don't want our young men to fight over things that don't affect us. Let England and France and Italy and Scandinavia and Russia and Germany hash it out themselves. Sure, it's bloody and terrible, and awful things are happening over there . But let's just stay out of it. After all, war is not the answer." Again, the same familiar chorus from those who don't wish to be involved, to fight about anything, certainly not the rights and well-being of others "over there." Sounds downright sensible and reasonable and practical, doesn't it? Didn't it?
Then came 12/7 – Pearl Harbor. And suddenly, those who didn't wish to be involved, who hoped they could wish away the threats and intentions and evil actions of others, knew they were involved, under attack on our own soil, and had to be drawn, ever reluctantly, into the "war effort" – and the war itself. Thank God, in each case mentioned the majority of Americans, and our leaders, saw and correctly gauged what was happening "over there," and realized that the thirst for domination is a spreading, virulent disease. This disease, this cancer, unchecked and unopposed, will corrupt and grow and destroy any timid resistance in its path and move with greater intensity into the next areas, now weaker and increasingly ripe for plucking.
Think for just a couple of minutes, and try to envision what our nation, our world, would be like today if the majority of our citizens had not closed ranks behind our leaders and our military in all these past settings. What if the naysayers, the dissenters, the "peace, not war" folks had carried the day? First, there would never have been a United States of America, its blessed Constitution, or the democratic, explosively dynamic lifestyle that has been the envy and role model for so much of humanity these last 230 years. And quite likely, all of Europe and Asia, indeed, most if not all the world, would have struggled through new dark ages of totalitarianism and terror.
And now, scroll forward again, to our present day: "War is not the answer! Make love, not war! What do we care about Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran, or any of those backward countries? A lot of Iraqis supported Saddam Hussein. And they've always fought and killed each other anyway. Why should we get involved? Let them fight it out and destroy each other. It doesn't affect us, does it?"
Then memories of 9/11/2001 come to mind. The World Trade Center, New York City, on our own soil, in downtown Manhattan. Well, maybe it did –does – affect us after all. Maybe we're at war, and have been for some time, whether we wanted to be or not. And still, the angry, frightened, strident voices: "Get out of Iraq! We're there under false pretenses! The president lied! He's not my president! We can't win! Turn it over to the U.N., to anybody. Please, please, please, leave us alone! Make it go away, please, please!"
Thomas Jefferson, a gentleman farmer, a patrician really, not a warlike man at all, said wisely, "From time to time, the soil of liberty must be stained with the blood of martyrs." It's tragic, but true. No sensible, humane person wants war, not even our trained military. But eventually, inevitably, when faced with a cunning and resolute enemy who wants to destroy you, you have only two options.
You can surrender and accept whatever the enemy wants to do to you – or you can stand up on your hind legs and fight. And when Americans have been – even if reluctantly – united, unified, and committed, no one has ever defeated us. Our dream has lived on. So, when we hear the angry, frightened voices today, always proclaiming desperately, "War is not the answer!" we should ask calmly, "Oh? What is your answer?"