Another brilliant piece by Ben Stein…
Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield – NY Times.com (Aug. 20)
Terrorists are still hatching plots against the air traffic system of the West, and this time bigger and worse than before. Obviously, Al-Qaeda is far from dead. We have much to fear from it still. The fact that the suspects were almost all home-grown Britons makes the situation that much more frightening and unpredictable. How long will it be until American-born terrorists strike against American targets? We are a big country and we have a lot of unhappy people. How long until they organize themselves to kill? Not long, I am afraid.
While we’re at it, yes, it’s miraculous and wonderful that the plot was foiled, if it was. But now the whole Western world will be seriously inconvenienced in its travel for years, maybe decades. Isn’t this already a victory for our enemies? Isn’t this already a blow against world business? Might it be enough to push our already slowed growth into a recession?
Now, who’s fighting for us in the fight of our lives? Brave, idealistic Southerners. Hispanics from New Mexico. Rural men and women from upstate New York. Small-town boys and girls from the Midwest. Do the children of the powers on Wall Street resign to go off and fight? Fight for the system that made them rich? Fight for the way of life that made them princes? Surely, you jest.
And that’s the essence. The other side considers it a privilege to fight and die for its beliefs. Those on the other side cannot wait to line up to blow themselves up for their vision of heaven. On our side, it’s: “Let the other poor sap do it. I’ve got to make money.” How can we fight this fight with the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do private equity deals and derivatives trading? How can we fight this fight with the ruling class absent by its own sweet leave?
I keep thinking, again, that if Israel, with its back to the sea, cannot muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway U.S.A. will never be able to do it. I keep saying this and it terrifies me.
We’re in a war with people who want to kill us all and wreck our civilization. They’re taking it very seriously. We, on the other hand, are worrying about leveraged buyouts and special dividends and how much junk debt the newly formed private entity can support before we sell it to the ultimate sucker, the public shareholder.
We’re worrying whether Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson and what the next move is for big homes in East Hampton. We’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The terrorists are the iceberg.
What stands between us and the iceberg are the miraculously brave men and women of the armed forces. They’re heroes and saints as far as I’m concerned. But can they do it without the rest of us? Can they do it while we’re all working on our tans and trying to have our taxes lowered again? How can we leave them out there all alone to die for us when we treat the war to save civilization as something we can just wish away?
If we don’t win this war against the terrorists, there’s not going to be business as usual ever again. If the terrorists get to their goal, there’s not going to be a stock exchange or hedge funds or Bain Capital or the Carlyle Group or even Goldman Sachs. If the terrorists get their way — and so far, they’re getting their way — there’s not going to be business, period.
I echoed similar sentiments last week. I am starting to fear for my nation and those that cherish freedom and democracy throughout the world. We have governments and peoples increasingly unwilling to forceably stand up to the spread of Islamic fascism in the same way we confronted German fascism over 60 years ago.
These are indeed troubling times….