This is not a battle of ideas but of ideals.

We have the Russian leader proclaiming that the US elections are flawed to excuse or ameliorate those in which he is involved. We have Democrats in King County (WA) scrounging up ever new batches of ballots in order to move the successive recounts to a desired outcome. We have the assault on the Ohio election, even though that one was not so close as to invoke Hewit’s book title (if its not close they can’t cheat).

And then we see rationalizations and allegations and aspersions that have no solid foundation or even defy the evidence.

What drives such behavior?

We cannot convince the terrorists not to be terrorists, or attempt to place a stamp of approval on our preferred religious sects. We have to fight the battle of ideas on ground of our own choosing. Our engagement begins with certainty about what we believe, and its moral correctness. Western liberalism is tolerant, but need not be diffident. We are accepting, but not indiscriminant. We are open-minded, but our minds are not empty. Our beliefs represent a complete and coherent challenge to the terrorist ideology. Everything we idealize (democracy, free markets, individual choice, free expression, gender equality) they despise. Our cherished principles are their worst fears. … Our mission, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, is to “place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.” We seek not to convince but to inspire. This is not a battle of ideas but of ideals. [James S. Robbins. You Have to Believe, The battle of ideas. NRO. 24 December 2004]

The war within is related to the war without. The GWOT is perhaps a bit easier to accept but it is the war within, the one whose battleground was firmly established during the Vietnam war, that is the important one. If the US is not resolute on its basic values and firm in its underlying principles it will suffer in its other engagements.

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