Roger L. Simon

Say the Secret Word

Michael quotes Groucho. We’re at another turning point.

In short, as the president’s critics are rightly reminding him, more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire, and our most lethal enemies are still in power and still killing our people and our friends. It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

Our enemies know this, because, to their delight and perhaps their surprise as well, they are still in power throughout the Middle East. Until and unless they are removed, the terror war will continue, our friends in the region will be killed, tortured, and incarcerated, and the president’s vision of regional democratic revolution will go down the memory hole. He is at yet another great turning point, and, as after the fall of Afghanistan and again after the defenestration of Saddam’s Baghdad, he is drifting, perhaps hoping that he has risked enough, that history is firmly on his side, and even – although it is hard to imagine – that the Europeans are helping the spread of freedom.

It is not so. In matters of war, peace, and revolution, winners are characterized by the constancy of their vision and the relentlessness of their pursuit of it. The French, Germans, and British are trying to restrain the revolution, not to encourage it, as their pathetic vaudeville-style negotiations with Iran abundantly demonstrate. One expects to hear one of their foreign ministers on the evening news, pronouncing Groucho’s immortal words: “I got principles. And if you don’t like ’em, I got other principles…”

[Is the secret word “Faster, please!”?-ed. No, that’s two words.]

UPDATE: To be clear, although Michael is my friend, I am an agnostic on whether we are applying the proper amount of pressure on Syria and Iran, because I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. [Are you an agnostic on everything?-ed. Well, no. Like Michael I absolutely love the Marx Brothers!] That said, I would like to point to the truism that the best defense is a good offense.