Jay and I have been bantering the 'Joe Horn' case, discussing various aspects of it and what it means to the greater society. Along the way, Jay mentioned the concept of 'duty to retreat'. The concept is based on the idea that when faced with an aggressor, a person has a moral duty to avoid confrontation, to give up ground and back away. That when a criminal gets it in his head that he wants to take something, we should just let him do so. That if he hurts someone, we should not try to prevent it. That the most we are allowed to do, is to stay out of the way, and if we feel guilty about doing nothing we can call the police later on and they will file a report about it.
This concept frankly strikes me as obscene, but more to the point, it is un-American. Concepts like duty to retreat seem to be very much how Liberals see the world. Such a concept explains how they can see Iraq's freedom from Saddam Hussein as a bad thing - we should not have taken him down, you see, it was somehow "wrong" to free millions of innocent Iraqis from a mad dictator. Same thing in Afghanistan; the Left would argue that even an evil usurping group like the Taliban somehow constituted a 'sovereign government', which we were wrong to confront and remove, even though they protected and supported Al Qaeda and the monsters who committed 9/11's horrors (for which the Left also blames America - we should not have gone outside our borders, you see, should not have promoted business anywhere in foreign lands, even where we were invited, should not have raised living standards and therefore expectations in third world countries, etc.). We see it in Europe now, where governments facing seditious thugs trying to tear apart their societies, actually apologize to the monsters and tell the victims not to make trouble. The established traditions and cultures of more than a thousand years are being dismantled, by the very governments which should be defending them, because those governments fear confrontation. It is a worse offense than cowardice, because a coward only shames his own name; the proponents of this concept would coerce a general condition of fear and self-loathing, all in the name of appeasement.
But I said this concept is un-American. Some who hate President Bush for protecting the nation, have claimed that his decisions and directives have hurt our standing in the world. I say rather the opposite, that the iron in his spine makes us taller in the view of everyone else. More and more nations copy the American model, in government, in business, and in culture. And what's more, President Bush is well in line with American tradition on that point. It is important to note that our nation was born in blood, though not a fight we wanted to have. When the British took to not only occupying major American towns in order to enforce its tax decrees, but quartering troops in American homes, they sparked a general rebellion which grew to drive a new nation into being. When the Barbary pirates raided our vessels and demanded tribute, we did not answer long with money, but soon replied with naval gunnery. The War of 1812 may well have been foolish, but by the time it was over, Europe knew better than to dictate terms to us. When we went to war with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines, we did not settle for a diplomatic victory, but removed Spain from those countries. And to address our attitude in World War 2 towards our enemies, one need only consider any of the public statements made by General Patton or Admiral Halsey. Only when we let ourselves get talked into considering our missions to have limits, do we lose wars. When we do whatever is necessary to win, we win easily.
This does not mean that war without restraint is always the most desirable, but it does mean that when we are attacked, we are right to answer in full force. When our objective protects our homeland, we are right to put our goals ahead of other nations'. Our friends must ever be aware that we will accomplish our missions, and our enemies must be made to know that there is no greater foolishness than to provoke our wrath. Mister Obama is very much wrong on that point - there must indeed be preconditions to any meeting with an adversary, the chief being that our enemies must know that they cannot hope to defeat us, that any attack against us will be answered, fully but in such time and manner as suits our plans, no one else.
Americans do not retreat.