The closing sentence from Michael Barone's column over at Real Clear Politics is a quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." His point is that too many people want to go back and live in the world of September 10th, 2001. A world before the World Trade Center towers fell, carrying several thousand of our fellow citizens to their deaths. A world before Islamist terrorists hijacked airplanes and flew them into the towers and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
But there is something else. It's the looming threat behind the headlines: London terrorist bombers arrested. Terrorist plot to bomb trains in Germany. Iran is developing nuclear weapons, while its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel. Hugo Chavez at the United Nations railing at the United States. North Korea is developing nuclear weapons to go with the missiles it already has. All these remind us that there are people out there who want to destroy our bounteous and tolerant civilization.
And we know, since Sept. 11, 2001, that they will inflict any damage they can. North Korea is a proven weapons proliferator. Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. It's not hard to imagine them equipping terrorists with nuclear weapons — or with the biological weapons (anthrax, plague) North Korea is said to be developing. Remember the anthrax attacks of September 2001? It turns out we still have no idea where the anthrax came from.
"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake," the novelist James Joyce once wrote. From the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union up until the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, we were on a holiday from history. We were happy to pay little attention to the Islamofascist terrorist threat that should have been apparent from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. We left that to government officials, who took it seriously and did some things to address it — but in hindsight not enough. Since then, we took the offensive and have had some successes in stopping terrorists. But we seem to be growing tired of the fight.
Now it appears that voters are willing to turn over Congress to a party most of whose representatives voted against allowing the National Security Agency to surveil without a court order al-Qaida suspects when they place calls to persons in the United States and against allowing terrorist interrogations under rules supported by John McCain.
There is a weirdness to this election cycle. The media is spending the bulk of its time covering sideshows being drummed endlessly by carnival barkers. Yet we are at war. Whether you believed in going to war against terrorists or not, the war was forced on us. Whether you agreed that we should invade Iraq or not, the fact is that we are there and there will be a bloodbath if we precipitously withdraw. But the focus is on a disgraced former Congressman and his text messages. Or the party n opposition touts an increase in the minimum wage as a cornerstone of what they intend to accomplish. The vast majority of voters make more than the minimum wage and enacting the cornerstone will not change their lives one iota.
We have troops on the ground in harm's way. We must not abandon them. The man who would chair the Ways and Means committee has said he wants to cut off funds for the war. Magically, he says this won't hurt the troops. We have a party in opposition that does not support a program to listen to terrorist's telephone calls unless a warrant is obtained. It seems that many of of politicians and many of the electorate are tired of war and no longer interested in it.
But it is still interested in them. And in all the rest of us as well. Still think it's a good idea to sit out the election?