Anti-American angst has a number of causes. Some are jealous of our blessings. Some are fearful of our singular power in the post-Cold-War world. Some just have interests that are in conflict with our own. France and Russia, for example, have extensive financial dealings in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Others simply don't share our values of individual freedom and openness - or our love of life, frankly.
Still others put too much faith in a dysfunctional, anachronistic and morally impotent United Nations - and don't like the perception that we're going around it.
And let's face it: A lot of what we're seeing today couched in anti-Americanism is really just undiscerning pacifism - the expression of which has been given unmatched opportunity by this slow, torturous march to military conflict.
But one other cause of the world's angst that isn't being talked about is this: The world has grown unaccustomed in recent years to strong American leadership.
Faced with terrorists who were at war with America for years, President Bill Clinton would lob a few cruise missiles here or there and be done with it. As we saw on Sept. 11, that didn't work. And true peace - not just the momentary absence of open conflict - did not result. The war continued, despite America's lack of willingness to fight it.
President Bush is showing real leadership, and is determined with every fiber of his being to defend this country. Thankfully, he is more concerned with that than with mollifying the "world community," whatever that is.
The president's statement Monday night was yet another masterful recitation of the difficult truths the United Nations has been, and will continue to be, unable to face: the lethal essence of this truly unprecedented threat; the rigors that diplomacy has been through; the unprovoked nature of past attacks; and the need for action, as well as the redundant authority for it under U.N. and congressional resolutions.
"This is not a question of authority," the president said. "It is a question of will."
In eloquent terms, the president promised the Iraqi people the blessings of liberation, calling on the Iraqi military not to fight it. He warned terrorists and war criminals not to act, for they would be punished. And he promised to spread the hope of human liberty throughout the region.
"Every measure has been taken to avoid war," he said, "and every measure will be taken to win it."
Like it or not, that's leadership.
We happen to like it.
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