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By Doug Patton
Since her birth, America has shouldered the responsibility of leading the world toward freedom. We have sometimes swerved off the track, and we have had our detractors, even within our own borders; but in the end, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, it is this nation that has served as a shining city on a hill, proclaiming economic, political and religious freedom to a world that is largely still in darkness.
That is why we have laws to keep in check the numbers of people entering, not leaving, our country. And still they come, in unprecedented numbers, legal and illegal alike, to experience a life that is not possible anywhere else on earth.
Americans have no stomach for empire building. We are too busy enjoying the grand experiment Ben Franklin called "a Republic, if you can keep it" to care about dominating other nations for the sake of raw, naked power and control.
In 1945, the uneasy alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union, forged out of necessity to win World War II, proved to be the bane of Germans unfortunate enough to have been trapped in the eastern part of their defeated country. The differences between the two nations that emerged spoke volumes to the world about the intentions of the United States.
While West Germany became a prosperous nation of economic opportunity and democratic rule, East Germany was frozen in a bombed out time warp of darkness and despair born out of Soviet tyranny. While the Russians occupied the East simply to insure that the Germans would never again attack them, America accomplished the same goal by helping West Germans build a peacetime economy and a better system of government than they had ever known, a system that put the German people in charge of their government through fair and democratic elections.
Instead of exacting the kind of vengeance and cruelty our former enemy had unleashed upon all whom it had vanquished, the United States flooded West Germany with resources and good will, rebuilding the country, then setting its people free.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States had absolute control over Japan. Gen. Douglas McArthur, who had engineered our conquest of the Pacific, was appointed temporary territorial governor in effect, a benevolent dictatorship in order to supervise the rebuilding of that tiny island nation. In the years that followed, thanks to that leadership, Japan became a peaceful economic powerhouse.
Since then, our dominance over other nations has been less clearly defined. A stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam left us questioning our role in the world. But in those instances where we have had to choose dictatorship or freedom for another nation Grenada and Panama leap to mind we have chosen to bestow liberty upon that nation and its people.
Even our victory in the Persian Gulf ended in the liberation of Kuwait, the saving of Saudi Arabia and the survival of Saddam Hussein.
Now we face a new enemy. Some say it is an enemy without a face, without a name, without a border, thereby making the traditional rules of war obsolete and irrelevant. After all, how does a nation battle a foe whose adherents are fanatics willing to train for years in order to die flying jumbo jets into skyscrapers?
President Bush has warned the world that whoever is not with us will be considered an ally of the terrorists who attacked our country and murdered our citizens. He has told us repeatedly to prepare for a long, protracted conflict. Now it is time to steel our resolve not just for the conflict to come but for the necessary post-war decisions that we will inevitably face.
No nation should be required to commit troops to this conflict, but any resistance to America's war effort should be viewed as antagonism toward our cause. Oil-rich Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, whose entire way of life we rescued a decade ago, should be sanctioned if they withhold oil or in any way try to profit excessively from this war. The sanctions should include anything we currently sell to these countries, including military hardware, no matter how much they are willing to pay for it.
In addition, any nation that actively opposes us or supports any part of the world-wide terrorist network should consider itself a sworn enemy of the United States, and therefore subject to attack and occupation.
It is time for the United States of America once again to exercise democratic hegemony, this time in the Middle East.
As the president told the world in his eloquent speech to Congress, America will prevail. We will crush this enemy just as we crushed Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. And when this war is over, with our enemies vanquished, the United States of America, as she have always done, will once again empower oppressed people to taste liberty for the first time.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter and policy advisor for federal, state and local candidates and elected officials. His work appears in various newspapers and on numerous web sites, including GOPUSA.com, AmericasVoices.org, Enter Stage Right, EtherZone.com, TikiTrash.commentary, SIANEWS.com and ConservativeThought.com. (c) 2001.
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