“Americans are tired of carrying the burden of foreign obligations, frequently unappreciated by others and always costly in blood and treasure,” lamented Senator Jon Kyl (R–AZ) last week, as he gave the annual Jesse Helms lecture at The Heritage Foundation. The Senator, who spoke powerfully in favor of engagement and a strong defense, was absolutely right. The fact is that Americans have made huge sacrifices to prosecute the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and they are weary. However, the world with its multitude of challenges will not go away. Somehow, Americans will have to find the determination to lead and to remain engaged.
A powerful illustration of the popular sentiment described by Senator Kyl was provided on Monday by the public opinion research firm Rasmussen Reports. In addition to crippling defense cuts inflicted by the Obama Administration, Americans themselves are expressing fatigue.
Nearly two out of three likely U.S. voters (63 percent) surveyed by Rasmussen agree with Samuel Huntington that we are in the midst of a clash of civilizations between the West and the Islamic countries. This echoes a finding by Rasmussen from the last week of April that the vast majority of American voters (79 percent) do not believe that the war on terrorism is over. Yet—stunningly—Rasmussen also reported that “most also think the United States should leave the Islamic world alone.” This attitude is known as sticking your head in the sand, and it will not serve us well.
As Kyl also noted, taking a moral stand in addition to keeping a strong military makes a difference.
Unfortunately, we do not usually have the luxury of choosing when and where we must confront evil in the world. The point is this: It is likely America will need to act in the future somewhere in the world for our own security purposes, even though we cannot today predict where or when. We cannot retreat behind a Maginot Line of our east and west coast. We can expect to be engaged beyond our borders.