I have had the pleasure of visiting Israel, our staunch ally, our great friend and the most exemplary democracy in the Middle East, a total of nine times. On one of those trips, I took my then 11-year-old daughter, Sarah, to Yad Vashem. As we faced the grimly surreal pictures from Dachau and Auschwitz, she confronted the horrors of the thousands of bodies stacked on top of one another like so much lumber – six million dead. At the end of our visit, Sarah went to the guest book and wrote simple words that I will never forget: “Why didn’t somebody do something?”
That is all she wrote, but with those words, I knew that, in her own way, she “got it.”
Unfortunately, some in America, even some running for president, don’t get it. Those who don’t understand that the war in Iraq is a critical part of the war on terror, don’t get it. Those who pledge to withdraw our troops according to some politically-motivated rationale before this war is won, don’t get it. Iraq must be stable and secure within its borders. It is not just Iraq’s security that is at stake, but the security of the entire region and of the United States.
But among those who seem to want to leave as soon as possible, regardless of the strategic and humanitarian consequences, is Sen. Barack Obama, one of the two remaining Democratic candidates for the presidency.
I have another grave concern about Sen. Obama, which was well-expressed by Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition:
“We are deeply troubled by Senator Obama’s desire to ‘hold a summit in the Muslim world, with all heads of state’ many of whom have yet to renounce terrorism or refrain from anti-Semitic incitement. …Senator Obama said he wanted to listen to the ‘concerns’ of these nations. For many, their biggest concern is Israel’s existence. It’s worrisome that Senator Obama wants to ‘listen’ to those calling for Israel’s destruction.”
AMERICA MUST be effective in the Middle East, and we must of course listen – and learn, and safeguard. But most of all, we need to be resolute in our strength, military and moral. Specifically, we must not pay any sort of tribute to terrorist states – including the honor of “listening” in some formal setting, where every splenetic utterance will be aired worldwide. For example, what would the president do in the face of some outrageously anti-American or anti-Semitic statement: Just sit there? Get up and walk out?
We shouldn’t engage in impromptu diplomacy based on a misplaced sense of “empathy.” That’s why I am concerned about Sen. Obama’s suggestion.
I don’t want to hear the “concerns” of terrorist states – but I do want them to hear me.
I want everyone in the Middle East to know that America is committed to its strategic interests in the region, including a safe and secure Israel. Does Senator Obama really want to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, for example? Sen. Obama has said he wants to, both as part of his summit, and privately. Hard to believe, but true, according to his interviews with Paris Match (January 31, 2008) and the International Herald Tribune (November 1, 2007). Iran and its partner Syria bring danger and death to Americans and Israelis on a daily basis though their support of terrorists – in Gaza, Lebanon, and of course, in Iraq.
If the annihilation of six million Jews taught us anything, it is that appeasement doesn’t work; it just results in the deaths of innocents and makes the job of eradicating evil all the more difficult.
So I share Israel’s concern about an aggressive unchecked Iran. And I share Israel’s determination that Iran will not become a nuclear power. As president, I will not take the military option off the table. I will work to strengthen sanctions against Iran both through the United Nations and the European Union.
No one seeking the presidency in either party is more steadfastly committed to Israel’s security, survival as a Jewish state, and ability to defend herself than I am. As president, I will ensure that Israel always has the state-of-the-art weaponry and technology she needs. And in addition, I will dramatically increase American defense spending. Before there can be true peace, there must be the basic recognition of Israel’s right to exist and an end to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel lies and propaganda.
Together, we must prevent nuclear proliferation and defeat Islamofascism. Together, we must be the people who confront and overcome evil. We must be the people who take action now, so that future generations of Sarahs don’t look back and ask “Why didn’t somebody do something?”
The writer, a former governor of Arkansas, is seeking the Republican Party nomination for president.