It was the headline seen on websites around the world—“Airlines Terror Plot Disrupted.”
Westerners awakened on August 10th to the news that a terrorist plot of possibly unprecedented proportions had been planned for planes from the U.K. heading to the U.S. Scotland Yard reported that the diabolical plan called for “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”
Ironic, considering the fact that filmmaker Oliver Stone’s patriotic masterpiece on the World Trade Center attacks is just hitting theaters now.
In light of all this, one has to wonder: What are those Americans who respond to national public opinion polls thinking?
Consistently, poll respondents have been giving low marks to President George W. Bush, disapproving of the way he handles his job. But do these people ever really ponder what the top White House job entails in the era of Al Quaida?
There was a time when the biggest threat to the U.S. was the U.S.S.R. The specter of nuclear annihilation by the ruthless Communist regime sent American schoolchildren scurrying under their desks for duck-and-cover drills. Yet, it was a containable threat. Communism self-destructed, and the Soviet Union crumbled. President Ronald Reagan was understandably heralded as the forward-thinking leader who helped to bring down the Berlin Wall.
Yet, looking back, it seems that the days of the Cold War were a simpler time for a Commander-in-Chief. Today, the President must deal with a largely unseen enemy with no national boundaries. The soldiers of terrorism move stealthily across international borders, determined to kill massive numbers of Westerners. They try to strike innocent civilians where they feel most vulnerable—in the skies. Their vicious campaign is designed to send Westerners into retreat—to curtail their natural desire to reach across national boundaries…to explore distant lands…and to promote democracy around the world.
It is easy from the comfort of our cubicles to criticize President Bush. We think that there might be new strategies—or a new leader—who could dismantle the terrorist network once and for all. Pundits shine a spotlight on any Presidential misstep, broadcasting unfavorable poll results with venom. Late-night comedians entertain their audiences with the President’s latest peculiar facial expression or verbal gaffe.
And yet, as we go about our daily lives, it’s so easy to forget the fear that gripped the U.S. on September 11th, when the unthinkable happened. It is so easy to slip into complacency with our remote control in one hand and our frappucino in another. Many of us have been lulled into thinking that the War on Terror is a thing of the past.
Then we hear news of another terrorist plot being foiled, and we remember the anxiety which accompanied the demise of the World Trade Center. When those memories flood our minds, it’s important to recognize one indisputable fact: under Bush’s watch, there has been no repeat of September 11th. In fact, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil—or in the skies above—have been consistently prevented.
You may not agree with the President on Social Security, the oil crisis, or tax cuts. But there can be no disputing the fact that this Commander-in-Chief has kept us safe under the most trying of circumstances, against an enemy even more formidable than the one that President Reagan stared down.
President Bush has kept a cool head in the conflagration of international politics and appears to be resolved to fight terrorism with all the resources at his disposal. With a President Kerry or President Gore at the helm, would you and your family really feel any safer?
In the end, Bush may be remembered as the President who faced terrorism—and didn’t blink.