Paying the price 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Winston Churchill said that Monday, Sept. 6, 1943, in Boston. The British Prime Minister had left the War Room to accept an honorary degree from Harvard.

Thousands turned out to hear him. Many in attendance were Army officers taking specialty courses on campus. Some would later land in Normandy. The lucky ones lived to fight their way to the Rhine. No one knew what the future held, but war was on everybody’s mind.

Churchill delivered an extraordinary speech, but it was not the speech that most expected. He said little about the war. Instead, he talked about the world after war — the burdens that free nations would have to endure to maintain their freedom in a dangerous world.

Last week, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., delivered a major address on defense and Obama’s foreign policy. He ended his speech declaring, “As Winston Churchill once said, ‘The price of greatness is responsibility.’ And let it be said of us one day, as Churchill said of his contemporaries, ‘that there was a generation that terror could not conquer, and brutal violence could not enslave.”

It was a message that some just don’t want to hear. It ran directly counter to almost everything the administration has been saying.

Instead of vowing to conquer terror, President Obama has set a timeline for withdrawing anti-terror troops from Afghanistan.

His spending plans would pare defense budgets to about 3.6 percent of the GDP by 2015 — a near-record post-Cold War low — at a time when we desperately need to rebuild and modernize our war-wracked military.

The Obama doctrine makes sense only if the world magically becomes a different place, a much more peaceful place … a place where greatness carries no responsibility.

Cantor argued for a doctrine based on the world as it is, not as we wish it would be.

“Peace is what we all want,” Cantor noted. “But history has shown that the blind pursuit of peace at any cost only makes war more likely. … It’s time to remove the blinders of political correctness from our eyes. It’s time to cast aside wishful thinking. We must see the world and our enemies not for what we hope they are, but for how they truly are.”

Cantor made the case for the old Reagan mantra — “peace through strength.”

He is not the only one. More and more conservative leaders are starting to raise the alarm that government is failing in its most basic responsibility, “providing for the common defense.”

Americans aren’t blind to the growing body of evidence that the Obama doctrine is just inviting trouble. For the second time in less than six months, a terror attack has been attempted by a “known enemy,” with a “known network,” using a “known tactic.”

And once again our government was caught by surprise. On the foreign front, Iran has become more emboldened, ratcheting up their nuclear program. Victory in Afghanistan remains in doubt.

Professional pundits insist that “bread and butter” issues now dominate the concerns of average Americans.  That’s true. But “bread and butter” is more than jobs or the economy. Main Street America recognizes that security is a “bread and butter” issue, too.

For without security, prosperity is little more than a target for conquest.

James Jay Carafano is senior research fellow for national security at The Heritage Foundation.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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