We're Gonna Be Seeing A Lot Of This...
The Bitter Harvest Of Weakness
Defense Policy: A weak America can never buy conciliation and peace. Weakness is a provocation, an invitation to our foes to confront us. How quickly we are relearning that old lesson in the wake of last week's election.
It sure didn't take long. In recent weeks, as it became clear Democrats were on their way to controlling Congress for the first time since 1994, potential foes began testing us. Apparently, they've begun to question our resolve.
According to the usually reliable Washington Times, Chinese submarines recently tracked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group, led by the USS Kitty Hawk, "and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected."
In a separate incident, an Iranian drone apparently flew over a U.S. aircraft carrier, filming what appeared to be F-18s and other aircraft sitting on its deck. "A source in the (Iranian) Revolutionary Guard said the drone carried out is mission without U.S. fighter pilots reaching it," Iran's Al-Alam Television said.
We doubt very much that the Kitty Hawk or our carrier fleet in the Arab Gulf was seriously threatened. And it's likely the U.S. military was well aware of both incidents and ready to respond if the need arose.
What bothers us is that this could become a pattern — one that will escalate to more serious incidents of provocation, possibly including the attempted seizure of a U.S. ship or an attack.
With Democrats in power, will North Korea's Kim Jong Il become even more bellicose, more demanding and more threatening to South Korea?
And will China, confident its growing navy can confront the U.S. on the high seas, suddenly decide it wants to test the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion?
Unfortunately, questions like these have proliferated in the days following the Democrats' big win. We know "gridlock is good" has become the mantra, but when it comes to national defense, that's not necessarily the case.
The mid-1970s, with post-Vietnam paralysis and repeated attacks on our intelligence ability by Congress' Church Committee, are proof of that.
This week, not surprisingly, al-Qaida is practically giddy at the prospects of a Democratic Congress reining in President Bush.
As we note elsewhere on this page, the New York Times — just days after an election during which Democrats insisted they would never "cut and run" from Iraq — ran this headline: "Democrats Push For Troop Cuts Within Months."
OK. Maybe "cut and run" was a bit harsh. Maybe "cut and saunter" would be better, or "cut and lope." Either way, it's all part of the "new direction" we've been promised for U.S. policy in the war on terror. But will this new thinking buy the U.S. anything?
The answer to that question hasn't been long in coming. On Monday, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the terrorist leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, said "The American people . . . voted for something reasonable in the last elections."
Rapprochement between the U.S. and al-Qaida? Hardly. Al-Muhajir went on to say al-Qaida would blow up "the filthiest house — which is called the White House."
By the way, al-Qaida claims to have 12,000 fighters ready for death in Iraq. Once we leave and it takes over, it won't be the end — not by a mile. As al-Qaida said Monday, next it wants to topple Lebanon's democratically elected regime.
So much for the Democrats' notion that only Afghanistan represents "the real war on terror."
So in case you're thinking maybe this new era of appeasement and walking away from our enemies will work, it pretty much looks like the answer is no.
Our enemies, real and potential, seem to think the U.S. is weaker today than it was before the election.
It will be up to us as a nation — and to our newly shifted Congress — to prove them wrong.