It’s a Fight for Survival -- Pull Out All Stops

Bruce Herschensohn teaches foreign policy at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and is the author of "Passport" (Simon & Schuster, 2003 ).

It may seem to be a radical idea, but why not use every means possible -- without politically correct detours -- to win the war against terrorism?

Our victory in World War II was not achieved by trying to win the hearts and minds of Germans and Japanese. We did not dominate the newsreels with pictures of those things a few American troops did to captured enemies. We did not call for an end to domestic profiling. We did not demonstrate against our military involvement. There was not the outrageous political complaint that “I support the troops but oppose the war.”

Instead of all that, we bombed our enemies to submission with all the power and weaponry we had available. After our costly invasion of Europe, with immense U.S. casualties, the atomic bomb was ready -- and to prevent another invasion we used it on Japan. Today, we justifiably call those Americans of the 1940s “the Greatest Generation.” During those years of war there was one issue: winning the war by demanding absolute and unconditional surrender of our enemies. Other issues were put aside as luxuries that would be reserved for a later time; there was not a simultaneous cry for saving the environment and a demand for creating more jobs and an insistence on government-provided healthcare and lower costs for prescription drugs.


But in the 1960s came the Vietnam War, along with its battles televised to American living rooms. Since that war, too many Americans have insisted only on fast wars with few casualties. They all had to be something like the invasion of Grenada or the liberation of Kuwait.

But if we want to win the war against terrorism we must accept a lengthy war with many casualties, because the consequences of defeat will mean our future generations will be left to lifetimes of fear. If we lose this war, we will be on the road back to the Middle Ages.

The devil with winning the hearts and minds of enemies who believe in primitive and uncivilized governments while being taught to hate the United States. The devil with allowing privileged sanctuaries for the enemy as we did during much of the Vietnam War. Now privileged sanctuaries provide safety not for the North Vietnamese army in Laos and Cambodia but for terrorists and their headquarters and safe houses and training centers in Syria and Lebanon and Iran and Yemen and the West Bank and Gaza. And the devil with congressional commissions that do little more than bring aid and comfort to our enemies.

After the defeat in Southeast Asia, the peace achieved by the enemy cost more lives than the war. This seems lost in history and intentionally lost in the memory of many Americans who rallied against the war in Vietnam. More than a million “boat people” escaped the horrors of re-education camps in Vietnam, but it’s estimated that half of them drowned in the South China Sea. More than 2 million people lost their lives in the genocide of Cambodia’s peace. If we should lose this war on terror, Americans could march to re-education camps, others will become boat people and the U.S. will become a Western mirror of Cambodia’s genocide.

In fairness, there is an alternative to our involvement in the war against terrorism, and that is to leave our fate to the international community under the United Nations. Yes, the U.N. can bring about peace: the peace of the palace for the few in authority, the peace of subjugation for the many and the peace of mass graves for the courageous.

The only subject worthy of our national attention and the only pursuit that should be acceptable is total victory -- no matter if others are offended or even destroyed. I know this kind of thinking is not considered acceptable in 2004. But we better accept it -- and quickly. And if we make it our only cause and unconditional victory is achieved, our leadership and our troops and our home-front supporters of their mission will be known as another “Greatest Generation.”