In speaking to our veterans, I suggested several questions to guide us during this struggle against violent extremists:
• With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that vicious extremists can somehow be appeased?
• Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?
• Can we truly afford to pretend that the threats today are simply "law enforcement" problems rather than fundamentally different threats requiring fundamentally different approaches?
• Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world's troubles?
These are the central questions of our time, and, as in all periods of conflict, we have no choice but to face them honestly.
I would point out that the fourth has been of real interest as I read some of the commentary which exhibits a displacement reaction: instead of worrying about those who want to kill us, people focus on Bush, insisting that he is the reason that people want to kill us, and on Israel, ditto. It means that they don't want to pay attention to the frequent utterances of those who want to kill us, which dismissal reflects poorly on the critic's ability to accept them as human beings.
I'd invite you to read the whole speech, as well as this one and this one by President Bush. For those needing a historial refresher, check this out.
UPDATE: Added links to frequent utterances: Hezbollah's next round. Added link to those who, the program of the jihad. Added link to displacement: Noam Chomsky.
Further Update: The Iraqi perspective:
For the most part, our queries were politely and somewhat laconically dismissed. Iraq is not in a civil war, Mahdi said, and doesn't need more U.S. troops. It has a constitution and elected government, and thus there is no need for an international conference. As for constitutional reform, the Shiite and Kurd parties that wrote the charter last year are waiting for proposals from Sunni dissidents. Mahdi added: "So far we have heard nothing."
So what is the solution? "Time -- that is it," Mahdi replied. "A nation like Iraq needs time. The elections for a permanent government happened eight months ago. We have been in office a few weeks. The people who we have in office have never governed. These people come from oppression and a bad political system. We can't import ministers to Iraq. There will be many mistakes. The Americans made many mistakes, and Iraqis had to support that."
"Our options as Iraqis are that we don't have an exit strategy or any withdrawal timetable," Mahdi said, somewhat bitterly. "We simply go on. . . . It is a process, and brick by brick we are working on it."
Sounds worthwhile to me.
Further update: A good discussion of the virtues of appeasement and its applicability appears on Townhall, citing the noted appeasers Charles V and Abraham Lincoln.