If I had to propose a model for Western rhetoric, it would be the Australians. In the days after Sept. 11, the French got all the attention for that Le Monde headline -- "Nous sommes tous Americains" -- "We are all Americans," though they didn't mean it, even then. But John Howard, the Aussie prime minister, put it better and kept his word: "This is no time to be an 80 percent ally."Steyn concludes:
Marvelous. More recently, the prime minister offered some thoughts on the difference between Muslims and other immigrant groups. "You can't find any equivalent in Italian or Greek or Lebanese or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad," he said, stating the obvious in a way most political leaders can't quite bring themselves to do. "There is really not much point in pretending it doesn't exist."
My worry is that the official platitudes in this new war are the equivalent of the Cold War chit-chat in its 1970s detente phase --when Willy Brandt and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter pretended the enemy was not what it was. Then came Ronald Reagan: It wasn't just the evil-empire stuff, his jokes were on the money, too. In their own depraved way, the Islamists are a lot goofier than the commies and a few gags wouldn't come amiss. If this is a "long war," it needs a rhetoric that can go the distance. And the present line fails that test.On that note, let me suggest that folks read Peter Schweizer, Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism. It is not as deep as I might like, but it is a very well-written and broadly researched. Its greatest value is not its rehashing of Reagan's relentless anticommunism and accurate understand of the Soviet system and threat, although that part is very good. Its greatest value is its insight into Soviet plans and actions, based on a variety of Eastern Bloc archival research. While western leaders--including Nixon, Ford, and Carter--engaged in "the Cold War chit-chat in its 1970s detente phase," and appeased the Soviets at every turn (except, in Carter's case, in Afghanistan) the Soviets were doing everything they could to win the Cold War and achieve worldwide communist domination. Even in those late years, they were as bad, worse, than most of us could imagine. Reagan got it.
The future is going to show that Islamicist terrorists and their state sponsors are as bad, worse, than most of us can imagine. All of the connections will be there, all of the crackpot plans, all of the evil plots to murder and conquer. The extent of our enemies' ambitions and abilities must not be underestimated. The importance of this war must be made clear. We need another Reagan.