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Nothing to fear, but fear itself

By Alan Caruba
web posted October 14, 2002

"We refuse to live in fear." George W. Bush, October 7, 2002.

On March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." It was to be his first of four inaugural speeches. The nation and much of the world was in the grip of the Great Depression.

By January 20, 1941, when Europe and Asia were already engulfed in war, Roosevelt told the nation that "To us there has come a time, in the midst of swift happenings, to pause for a moment and take stock-to recall what our place in history has been and to rediscover what we are and what we may be. If we do not, we risk the real peril of inaction."

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and America was at war.

America is at new "time, in the midst of swift happenings", and must ready ourselves again for war. It is a time to face our fears for, if we do not, we will write a very different future than one consistent with our historic mandate and willingness to advance the cause of freedom throughout the world.

We are at a time in which our economy has suffered a long "bear" market when even successful companies are seeing their stock value savaged by what is essentially fear, a loss of faith in our ability to conduct the business of America. We have witnessed the looting of massive corporations on a scale never imagined, but we are bringing these greedy men to justice.

Capping these trends was the sudden and awful realization that America itself is vulnerable to attack. The shock of September 11, 2001 has since rippled throughout our society and our economy in ways only future historians will record. The euphoria of the 1990s, along with the revelations of what will surely be seen as the most corrupt and feckless administration---the Clinton years---is already waning, imploded with the Twin Towers.

In the past, Americans bore the burden of the Cold War in order to end the threat of the Soviet Union. It was a challenge we could understand and an enemy we deemed rational. Now, however, we search to put a face on the new enemy. First is was Osama bin Laden and his fanatical Islamic Jihad; one that will continue for years to come. Now, too, it is the face of Saddam Hussein, the "Butcher of Baghdad", no less a threat to peace in his region and threat to our national security for his pathological willingness to spurn any effort to control his mad ambition to be the new Saladin, leading the forces of the Arab nation to worldwide conquest.

America is disparaged and hated by large portions of the world's population, for our wealth, for our power, but mostly for our values. At this moment in time, we cannot shirk our responsibility to end Saddam's quest to be a nuclear power. Its horror is so great that we have seen other nuclear nations, Pakistan and India, pull back from the brink of its use, but no such promise exists with Saddam. We have witnessed his war on Iran and his invasion of Kuwait. He must be stopped or the consequences will be too terrible to contemplate.

We must overcome our fear of war's uncertainties. We must remind ourselves how well we conducted the liberation of Kuwait and Afghanistan, and we must know that we are fully capable of doing the same for the people of Iraq, both for our own national interests and those of the entire region of the Middle East.

We must have more faith in our economy. Wall Street's long slide will end and I suggest it will once we have dispatched the threat of Saddam. I think Americans will regain their courage and reaffirm our commitment to the fight against the scourge of Socialism/Communism that has proven a failure in one nation after another.

In 1941, in the days before America was fully engaged in World War II, President Roosevelt said, "It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of this nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit. And of the three, the greatest is the spirit. Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the nation could not live. But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the nation's body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the America we know would have perished."

My concern today is the spirit of America. I believe, if we show the courage and show the leadership needed at this point in time, we shall prevail and history will recall we did not yield to fear. Inaction is not an option and while it is prudent to have a coalition of nations supporting us, America once again must look evil in the eye and defeat it.

Alan Caruba writes "Warning Signs", a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. In January, the Free Enterprise Press will publish a collection of his work. (c) Alan Caruba, 2002

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