Mary Mostert
November 9, 2003
What part of "the conflict will not be short" confuses Democrats and the media?
By Mary Mostert

During World War II, when the Democrats in Washington were spending 3 times the amount of money annually as was being collected in taxes, I don't ever remember a Republican or member of the media asking Roosevelt when he planned on winning the war, if he couldn't economize a bit or perhaps just give up and hope for the best. Based on news reports I read daily, these are the main questions the Democrats and the media seem to dwell on.

President Bush told us on September 15, 2001, as the latest casualties of terrorist attacks on Americans were being buried:

    "Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective. We have much do to, and much to ask of the American people. You will be asked for your patience; for, the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve; for, the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long."

What part of the sentence "the conflict will not be short" is it that so many people, especially Democrats and media types, don't comprehend? Terrorist attacks on Americans by Middle-Eastern terrorists are not really new. In fact, some list the assassination of Robert Kennedy by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan on June 5, 1968, thirty-five years ago, as the opening event of the terrorist attacks on Americans. That was followed in March of 1973 when two Americans where seized and killed in the Sudan US Embassy in an effort that Yassir Arafat was accused of making to free Sirhan Sirhan.

In 1977 two American diplomats were kidnapped and shot in Lebanon and in 1980 eight American soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash trying to rescue American hostages in Iran. It was in 1983, however, that the terrorists first began using car bombs on American targets. More than 300 Americans died in two separate attacks in Lebanon. Sixty-three Americans were killed in a car bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy and 241 Americans were killed in a truck bomb attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon. Also in 1983, four Americans were killed by a Hezbollah attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. In 1984 a total of 46 Americans were killed in bomb attacks at various locations in Iran, Lebanon and Spain. Fifteen Americans were killed in three terrorist attacks in 1985 and an additional 27 were killed in1986 in Pakistan, Turkey and Greece. In 1988 a total of 271 Americans were killed when a military officer was killed in Lebanon and 270 Americans were killed by a car-bomb placed in a suitcase by the Fatah.

During the Clinton Administration, from 1993 to 2000, a total of 703 people, most of them Americans, were killed in a series of incidents, including 18 Americans killed in Somalia by Osama bin Laden, the first bombing of the World Trade Center that killed 6 people, car bombings in Riyadh and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 26. More than 520 people were killed in TWA Flight 800, the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole.

Then came the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that killed more than 3000 people in a matter of minutes merely by hijacking American passenger airplanes and using them in suicide attacks on selected targets.

After 9-11 the obvious question was: Should the American president wait until some suicide bomber has the capability of setting off a chemical, biological or nuclear device in the middle of New York, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. killing several hundred thousand Americans? Or, should we do what George W. Bush has done provide the world leadership to stop the terrorists now? Should it have been done, in fact, a long time ago? And, why are so many media people asking Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld such incredibly stupid questions?

Based on a series of interviews on Monday with Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and various interviewers on stations around the country, questions were asked that seemed to indicate the interviewer believes America should give up now. In effect I am hearing that it is better that thousands of civilians be killed rather than risk the lives of a few hundred of our outstanding, well-equipped and trained all-volunteer army in engaging the enemy to protect civilians from more and larger attacks. Should we just surrender? For example:

    Q: The Bush Administration has also been claiming that not enough good has been reported in the war with Iraq and that the media has been focusing too much on the bad. But that said, the bottom line is, we still have some 400 troops almost who have been killed, over 2,000 who'd been injured, there's a $87 billion grant request that is also underway from the Bush Administration. Before starting any war, the question always is asked, "Is it worth the cost?" Has it so far been worth the cost?

Rumsfeld reminded him it was not an "$87 billion dollar grant request" but a $20 billion grant request to reconstruct Iraq's security forces and electrical system. Unfazed at being a mere $60 billion off in his question, the interviewer asked:

    Q: Okay, but also, is it worth the cost with the number of troops who are dying, the number of troops who are getting injured, with no end in sight and still having some trouble getting a broad international support? Has it still been worth the cost in your opinion?

Rumsfeld pointed out there were 32 countries that have forces on the ground, America had broad international support and he couldn't "imagine how you or anyone else can even say that."

The last question asked was:

    Q. You were talking about this being a long hard slog, this campaign against Afghanistan and Iraq. You're confident we can win but you're not sure how long it will take. What do you mean by that, real quickly?

To his credit Rumsfeld, really quickly, said he meant what he said and that "It is going to take time" which, of course, is exactly what President George W. Bush said more than two years ago.

© Mary Mostert


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Mary Mostert

Mary Mostert is a nationally-respected political writer. She was one of the first female political commentators to be published in a major metropolitan newspaper in the 1960s... (more)

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