Saturday, September 16, 2006

Losing Our Will to Win

By Ed Koch

I believe this war of civilizations, which was brought to our shores in 2001, is one of the most important wars we have ever fought. In the Revolutionary War back in 1775-1783, we had extraordinary leaders, including George Washington, chosen as General and Commander-in-Chief and later elected President of the United States. We forget that he lost almost every battle at the time, but he ultimately won the war. But there were moments -- the harsh winter at Valley Forge -- when it all looked hopeless and Washington was sharply criticized by fellow Americans. He had the strength to ultimately prevail and overcome the military defeats and personal attacks on his abilities.

Before we entered World War II in December 1941, most of Europe with the exception of Great Britain had been conquered by Nazi armies, and Russia, then the U.S.S.R., was retreating under attack. In World War II, American casualties totaled 291,577 dead and 671,846 injured. Under the extraordinary leadership of F.D.R., the Allies ultimately won the war, despite losing a number of battles. We would not have prevailed had the British not kept hope alive by continuing the battle when all of the other European nations had either surrendered or been overrun and accepted the Nazi regime. The Russians also were key to the Allies' success, having sacrificed 10 million Soviet soldiers in liberating their own occupied lands, as well as central Europe on their way to capturing Berlin. The Soviet losses in taking Berlin alone are estimated at 300,000.

Why do I recite these historical facts? Because I believe that the U.S. is faltering in the current war against international terrorism, and we are losing our will to prevail. We are losing our fighting spirit as a result of the fighting between Republicans and Democrats on just how to prosecute the war.

The President calls the war on terror "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation." The President's speech was attacked, as usual, by a number of Democratic party leaders with Senator Ted Kennedy in the lead.

One of the worst attacks on the President came from Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, himself a presidential candidate in 2008. He demanded that the President stop referring to those engaged in terrorist attacks against us and others as Islamic fascists. He said, "Fascist ideology...doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam." But what about the tens of millions who are terrorists and want to kill us? Does he have a description for them? The media rarely call those engaged in acts of terrorism "terrorists," preferring to refer to them simply as "militants."

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