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Needed: A Strong Will to Win
How do we fight a PC war on terror?...

[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 8/2/05

“When the rules of the game are once agreed upon, rarely does either party violate them.”

-Georges Le Chartier
Americans and Sport

Participation in sports is important, we tell our children, not only for healthful exercise but to learn teamwork and sportsmanship. There are rules that must be followed and we must learn to accept setbacks and even losses with grace and dignity. Everyone hates a sore loser. It is more important how we play the game than whether or not we win. Winning is not everything.

We Americans grew up with the notion that everyone ought to play by the rules, or at least we should. In the Vietnam conflict, the enemy used children and elderly civilians to kill our soldiers and ignored the Geneva Conventions. Our uniformed combatants were tortured, not just humiliated. We tried to play by the rules but we failed to win the war.

In modern wars, unlike sports, it is less important how you play the game than whether or not you win.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Winning is, in fact, everything because the consequences of losing are simply unthinkable. But it is damnably difficult for many Americans to accept this. It just seems downright un-American. We believe in the rule of law and in a system of rules and we expect everyone else to play by them. Although we are continually shocked and appalled when they don’t, we, nevertheless, insist that our people do. We strive to maintain the moral high ground at any cost.

Thus, we speak of bringing terrorists to justice, a justice they themselves neither respect nor practice. Whether or not they are in compliance with or covered by the Geneva Conventions, our politicians insist that we apply them. We grant relatively open access to our society which terrorists eagerly exploit to do us harm. We consider this openness a virtue while our enemy sees it as a weakness. Our domestic critics insist that captured terrorists be treated better than we treat our own recruits and brand as torture valid interrogation methods designed to obtain critical intelligence which could save lives.

We are engaged today in a crucial worldwide struggle with Islamic fundamentalism. It is a struggle between people who value freedom and choice and people who believe that those values and freedoms are depraved and evil, that our only options are conversion or death and that Allah is on their side. It is a battle between those who pursue scientific progress and those who condemn it; between those who believe in freedom of worship and separation of religion and state and those who believe that there is only one religion and that it must dictate all affairs of state. It is a battle between the forces of tolerance and mutual respect and those of intolerance and hatred.

In this classic struggle between the forces of good and evil, defeat is unthinkable. It is simply not good enough to lose honorably but to avoid that, we have to change some rules. This is not a cricket or polo match. Besides, rules are pointless if only one side observes them.

The recent attacks in London have heightened security concerns here and caused us to review our own measures designed to guard against terrorist attack. Our surface transportation systems, schools, hospitals, hotels, convention sites, sports and entertainment facilities and churches remain particularly vulnerable. More aggressive, proactive measures to identify and thwart terrorists are clearly required as are stronger measures to secure our borders against the daily inflow of illegal persons and material. A tamper-proof national identity card is likewise needed. Should (most experts say “when”) another major terrorist attack occurs in this country, there will be an inevitable public clamor for these measures and more, plus a demand for the scalps of those officials who failed to anticipate the need for them. We should not have to wait for the next disaster to finally accept the reality that the rules must change.

Yet we remain locked in endless controversy over largely exaggerated issues of privacy and personal freedom posed by more aggressive screening measures, national ID cards and border security. Selective screening of travelers based upon intelligence, past behavior and the application of probability and statistics are decried as racial profiling. A national ID card is seen as evidence of Big Brother intruding into our lives and effective efforts to control our own borders are condemned as evidence of xenophobia. Political correctness reigns and it may, in the end, do us all in while we spare the sensitivities of a relative few.

Our dedicated enemy, the terrorist, despises us and our values, institutions and freedoms. He will use these and any other measures, fair or foul, in attempting to destroy us. It will be small comfort, if he succeeds, that we played the game fairly and abided by all the rules. tOR

copyright 2005 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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