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"History Proves we Cannot Afford Peace at all Costs"
The Ventura County Star, February 18, 2003

By Terry Paulson, PhD

Some of the recent headlines would have you believe that the "World says no to war" and that George W. Bush is more of an enemy of peace than Saddam Hussein. A few million people around the world taking to the streets do not speak for the whole world! Such comments remind me of the plaintive complaints from my teenage son, "Everybody else is going!" I loved saying, "I don't think that is true, but even if that were true, it would still be everybody else minus one."

George W. Bush and Tony Blair are not alone. In spite of what the UN does or does not do, there is a growing coalition of allies ready to join us in what many world citizens think is a tragic but just and moral war against Iraq. I appreciated Blair's recent comments in the wake of the antiwar marches, "I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honor, but sometimes it is the price of leadership and cost of conviction."

As we recently celebrated the great contribution of Presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, we might take heart from the unbelievable resolve of those leaders and their glaring unpopularity at the time of their leadership.

Abraham Lincoln noted: "If I were to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for business. I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right will make no difference." When it came to handling lack of consensus from his advisors in Washington, Lincoln had the character and resolve to stand for what he felt was right. He once said, "Well, we took a vote in the Cabinet and it was eight to one-but I was the one."

Most know and value the idolized Lincoln, but few of us realize how unpopular he was at the time in taking our country through one of the most trying periods of our history. Earning respect for the ages does not always mean high approval polls at the time. Great leaders learn to manage and treasure the tensions created by freedom. They honor the right of free citizens to disagree, to shout and even march against their actions. But the best leaders have the courage and the resolve to stay the course in what they feel is right.

People through the ages have always had a dream of world They want to believe that evil has been finally put to rest, only to see evil rear its head in a new and even more heinous way. After the Revolutionary War, it was proposed at the Constitutional Convention to limit the US standing army to 5,000 men. George Washington responded requesting a clause that would limit the size of the invading army to 3,000 troops. Laughter followed, and the proposal was dropped. America must remain strong and must rise to the occasion to lead when conditions dictate.

Washington and Lincoln knew what our current Secretary of Defense has affirmed anew--"Weakness is provocative." George W. Bush and his team will not shy away from their duty to protect America and to take the battle to terrorists wherever they find them. So, Mr. President, don't worry about the million marchers in streets around the globe, be thankful there are far more ready to applaud your efforts. Unnecessary delay is dangerous. Don't force our men and women in uniform to fight an enemy in the heat of summer in order to placate verbal dissidents who want peace at all cost. History has shown that price is too high to pay for freedom to last. History also shows that when we win a war, we work to bring more freedom, more prosperity and more lasting peace to our once enemies. May we do so again.

—Terry Paulson, PhD

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