Anger, compassion, resolve, commitment
Friday was Paris's worst day since Nazi tanks rolled down the Champs-Élysées. It was worse than Charlie Hebdo, but it followed the same theme. Another city has lost control of its life and vitality to a cowardly resident evil breeding across every border in Western Europe.
If your first and only emotion after receiving news of the Paris terror attacks has been compassion for the French, then you may be part of the problem. The global community of countries that espouse freedom, human rights, basic humanity, and civility have done precious little to stop the savages that bring horror to our cities. Certainly I have compassion for the French as they mourn this tragic event, but I am, at first, angered.
Anger. My first words: "Those dirty bastards." I am enraged that these inhumane events continue as the most powerful countries of the world analyze the threat and then take half-measures to mitigate it. Who negotiates with a cobra? Who tries to understand motives and appease a hungry lion?
Where is the leadership? The highest seats of world government are occupied with Neville Chamberlain characters. The Winston Churchill characters are nowhere in sight. Who will be the world leader to finally say, Enough is enough; get behind us or get out of our way and then rain pure Hell on Earth on the wolves that perpetrate these deeds? I am angry because we are more interested in dialoguing, understanding, and negotiating with our enemies than crushing them. I am angry that the bad guys continue to get away with such atrocities, and the world becomes more and more numb to what is brutal, vile, and vicious. I seethe when I hear academics, pundits, and pollsters trot out the hackneyed "war-weary country" phrase to offer as an excuse for sitting on the sidelines while soft targets of opportunity around the world are attacked. Which one of them has ever served his country in such an honorable role as to defend it?
Compassion. Surely, I have it and attend to it in the same way I did following 911, the Boston Marathon attacks, and every other murderous plot. I have deep sorrow and compassion for the victims, the families of the murdered and maimed, the communities whose life, energy, and goodness have been ripped to shreds. I have compassion for those within the communities who now have to tame their fear and rebuild what was so senselessly lost.
But compassion seldom looks forward. There is little time to lick one's wounds when confronted with evil that plans the next attack.
Resolve. In the immediate days after a heinous attack, we all have resolve. But how long will it last? We have become a short attention span world, where the Paris attack will assume an "11/13/15" moniker akin to "Je suis Charlie," Never Forget, or Boston Strong. Two weeks from now, most will still be saddened by the event, but the resolve to take overwhelming and merciless action to fight back will evaporate. Life and a new normal will start again for the good guys. Meanwhile, the enemy will seize on their evil ideas of overwhelming and merciless action, because they have no concept of compassion.
Evidence and rhetoric from the current U.S. administration, as well as from many of the presidential wannabes, rely on America being protected by the Atlantic Ocean from these events that have their origins in the Middle East. They just need to take care of their own issues without us. We have to worry about only a lone wolf attack here or there, since there isn't any evidence of an army of enemy soldiers coming over the horizon. This is patently foolish and shortsighted. It befits a ruling class that astoundingly lacks basic courage of conviction and resolve. Love him or hate him, Bush 43 had the conviction and resolve to launch the Global War on Terror.
"We had to respond to the attack on our country. We had to wage an unprecedented war against an enemy unlike any we had fought before. We had to find the terrorists hiding in America and across the world before they were able to strike our country again." (Pres. George W. Bush, September 2006)
President Hollande sounded a rallying cry with his statement that "we will lead a war that will be pitiless." Contrary to the trite bumper sticker stating "War is Not the Answer," sometimes war is the only answer. The idea of the French committing to fight and the U.S. sitting idly by is patently ironic.
Are Americans as resolved to kill our terrorist enemy as that enemy is to kill us? Resolve is the direct byproduct of strong, exemplary leadership that can transcend political parties, sound bites, and cultural ideologies and deliver a vision for victory against this current evil. Regrettably, that leadership is absent.
Commitment. Are our warriors ready and willing? Are they tired? Will they buy into this dangerous mission? Yes, they're ready. Yes, they're as willing now as when they volunteered in the first place. Sure, they're tired, and their families miss them, but they also know the gravity of their job and the commitment they signed up for. This goes for not only the warriors, but also the entire group that most liberals enjoy mocking but hate to acknowledge for their value: the military-industrial complex. Now is their time. They will commit. They simply need the political will and leadership to step up.