Eleven people perished and another 47 were injured in a bombing in Jerusalem this morning. In Kuwait, two American soldiers were shot and wounded; they are in serious condition. As the Washington Post reports, today's incidents were only the latest in a series of deadly assaults on Western targets: "In recent weeks, attackers have bombed a French oil tanker in Yemen, shot and killed a U.S. Marine in Kuwait and assassinated a U.S. diplomat in Jordan."
In the pages of the Claremont Review of Books and elsewhere, the Claremont Institute has argued strenuously for a vigorous prosecution of the war on regimes sponsoring terrorism. Victory means nothing less than destroying or disabling those who would bring us harm, and discrediting the cause of militant Islamism that drives them.
The grim reality is that many people will die in this war, some of whom will no doubt be innocent bystanders. But we must not lose sight of the ugly fact that thousands of innocent people have already died at the hands of Arab terrorists, on 9/11 and in violent, sporadic episodes before and since. These terrorist attacks will not stop until decisive action is taken to make them stop.
There is no greater challenge of statesmanship than to measure rightly the price of war. George W. Bush now faces this challenge. He must weigh in the scales of justice the cost of lives risked, and lives lost, in pursuit of the nation's liberty and safety. Perhaps he may take some strength and guidance from the words of one who confronted the horrors of war under more trying circumstances than any other American president.
One hundred and thirty eight years ago today, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln wrote this letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby:
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
The burden of the war on terrorism weighs mightily upon Mr. Bush's shoulders. In some respects it is a new kind of war, which will be fought unlike any war in the past. But the basic moral questions remain the same — as president and commander-in-chief, Mr. Bush will be confronted with the same difficult decisions that Lincoln faced. As a nation, let us do our duty, and let the Hand of Providence, which guided Mr. Lincoln through our nation's darkest hours, shine light on our president today, and bring this war to a speedy and victorious end.