Who in the 1980s would have ever imagined that folks might actually look back longingly to the "good old days" of the Cold War? That there could be fond remembrances of a bygone era when two superpowers would stockpile tons and tons of nuclear weapons in an international arms race?
Perhaps living with the realities of America and the free world's war on terror has helped create a little bit of nostalgia for that time in our history.
Nevertheless, to refer to the Cold War as the "good old days" is a bit of a stretch. But the final facts are pretty impressive: the Cold War was ultimately won; millions of people were released from the shackles of communism; and the Soviet Union and its direct threat to the U.S. are simply no more.
But the Cold War was not won by accident or through happenstance. No, it was won because of the leadership of a president who understood that peace and victory were possible through strength and who exhibited the necessary commitment to get the job done.
Earlier this month, when President Bush released his proposal to restructure America's military, it was further evidence that this president is also more than up to the unique challenges we currently face.
The president's proposal is forward-thinking and an awfully big step in the right direction. It calls for closing hundreds of U.S. facilities overseas and bringing home almost 70,000 uniformed personnel (and roughly 100,000 of their family members and additional civilian employees) over the next 10 years. By doing this, the U.S. and our armed forces are in a better position to maintain flexibility and rapidly deployable capabilities to strategic areas around the globe. It's a plan that makes good sense.
Even the president's political opponent in November (ultra-liberal Sen. John Kerry) agreed it was the right thing to do. In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos 18 days before the president unveiled his proposal, Kerry said, "I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops... I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there (in Iraq) but elsewhere in the world... There are great possibilities open to us."
But magically, just two days after the president's announcement, Kerry did an about-face and trashed the idea by saying it was "clearly the wrong signal to send." The "wrong signal"? In just 18 days, the "great possibilities" had become the "wrong signal"?
The fact is, President Bush got it right. Winning the war on terror requires new ways of operating and preparation -- including a more mobile American military that can meet these new challenges.
There's also an additional benefit in having more troops back within our borders. These returning armed forces personnel will be available to help us in the effort to directly protect our borders.
Don't forget, the perpetrators of 9/11 trained and lived in Florida and other areas of our country. Meanwhile, there are somewhere between 8 and 12 million people currently living in America illegally, including almost 4,000 from countries with a known al Qaeda presence.
Part of fighting and winning the war on terror is ensuring that the battlefield is never on American soil again. Enlisting our troops here at home in the effort to better buffer our borders and stem the tide of people entering our nation illegally should also be part of the president's proposal.
Until then, I suggest Kerry leave his hallmark flip-flops on the campaign trail and off the path this nation must travel to meet and defeat the terrorist thugs who want to destroy our nation and way of life.
(U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood is an Evans resident.)
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