Monday, March 28, 2011

The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett & Seth Leibsohn

If you think President Bush could do no wrong and President Obama can do no right, you'll love this book. If you think it is America's responsibility to be the savior of the Middle East, you'll love this book. If, however, you tend to be a little more objective, this book may just irritate you.

It's been ten years since the tragedy of 9/11. Most Americans assumed the response to the horror of that day would be short work. Yet the lead instigators remain at large, the authors remind us, and the U. S. appears to be unsure about the continuation of this war on terror.
The authors seek to refocus American attention on the war against radical Islam and the necessity of the defense of our culture. They believe “we are in the fight for our lives right now, the fight for our very survival, the fight for Western democracy...” They believe the next presidential vote could very well mark surrender.
Their focus is on the natures of the threat and the response we should be completing. The authors speak highly of President Bush and his war rhetoric. They quote him, especially his “Islam is peace” speech at the Islamic Center of Washington, very positively.
They praise the Bush administration “for getting a lot of the war right” and criticize the Obama administration for getting “a lot of the war wrong” and then disdaining and scorning it. They are critical of president Obama's new priority of “ending wars abroad, not winning them...”
They do admit that by the 2008 election the nation was war weary. That was because the Bush administration did not keep the motive for the war in the forefront, they argue.
Regarding the Iraq war, the authors can't believe that anyone would criticize “military action against a regime whose record of barbarism and terrorism was virtually unparalleled.” They are unhappy with Obama apologizing for anything America has done.
The authors show that the Koran is much more violent than the Bible. There are “several active commands to jihad and physical violence in the Koran.” The authors are dismayed that there are too few Muslims willing to speak out and call for reform. They note that American Muslims have failed to call for moderation.
The authors argue that, “America as a strong force in the Middle East did not bring terror to our shores.” It is not because America is “occupying” any place in the Middle East. Of Islam, they say, “It is a corrupt philosophy that, when acted upon, has led (and will lead) to untold slaughter and death.”
In the Epilogue the authors say there needs to be a great relearning. We need to teach history without denigrating our own story. We need to cultivate heroes and statesmen. We need to be reminded of our great moral and intellectual inheritance.

One failure of the authors is to note how Bush's Iraq war changed the balance of power in the Middle East. For example, the authors say, “Given the current trajectory, Iran will become a nuclear power on the watch of President Barack Obama.” The Iraq war destroyed the long standing war between Iraq and Iran. Powerful Iraq balanced powerful Iran. Now, with Iraq in shambles, Iran is a rising and very threatening power.
Another failure of the authors is that they say nothing about areas of horror other than in the Middle East. If the U.S. Is to be the savior of the world, shouldn't we have gone into Darfur? (Oh, that's right, there's no oil there.) Do we only go to war when thousands of Americans get killed and not when thousands in another country are killed?
And, help me here. Why was it OK for Bush to say Islam was a “religion of peace” shortly after 9/11 but it is terribly wrong for Obama to say that now? Now “it has become jarring, if not offensive, to constantly be told – lectured at – that Islam is a religion of peace.”

I have really mixed feelings about this book. Maybe we have lost our focus. Maybe we should fight radical Islam. I am just not so sure invading Iraq (or any other Middle East nation) is the answer. Despite what the authors say, I think America's presence in the Middle East prior to 9/11/2011 (bases, military personnel) did precipitate feelings against America.

I received an egalley of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of this review.

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