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Peace through strength

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

This past week marked an incredible series of events in Israel. For years, Israelis have lived under daily threat of attack from neighboring states and regional bad actors for no other reason except that they dare to exist. Over 900 people were slaughtered and scores taken hostage by Palestinian Hamas terrorists from Gaza in what Israel’s Ambassador to the UN called “Israel’s 9/11.” The Israeli Knesset convened, and for the first time since 1973, Israel’s government declared a state of war.

Dozens of Americans were among the dead and the hostages. Two-hundred-sixty people at one music festival were slaughtered. The atrocities shocked the conscience of the world. More Jews were killed in that one day than in any one day since the Holocaust.

Hamas has been funded, trained, and supplied by Iran for years. To add to the pain and ignominy, the Taliban formally asked permission from the Iranian government for safe passage to help Hamas fight Israel. Let that sink in.

We have been dealing with Palestinian terrorism for decades. In fact, this past week marked another world event involving Palestinian terrorists.

“On October 7, 1985, the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked by four members of the Palestine Liberation Front off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt,” author Jack Carr recently recounted on Twitter. "They demanded the release of 50 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel specifically threatened to kill the U.S. and British passengers if their demands were not met.”

When the terrorists did not get what they wanted, Carr went on to explain, they executed 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound Jewish American. His lifeless body was unceremoniously thrown overboard.

The terrorists eventually received assurances of safe passage from the Egyptian government with the help of their leader Abu Abbas. But they did not count on President Ronald Reagan, who believed in peace through strength.

“The following day, as part of the negotiated settlement,” Carr recounts, “the hijackers boarded an Egypt Air flight to Tunisia. That same day, President Ronald Reagan ordered F-14s from the USS Saratoga to force the Egypt Air flight down at a NATO airbase in Sicily where the terrorists were arrested by the Italians.”

Carr goes on to say that “an Italian court sentenced the hijackers to prison,” but somehow Abbas, the likely mastermind of the hijacking, was quietly allowed to leave the country, with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein providing him sanctuary.

Wanted by the U.S. for the next 18 years, Abbas was finally “captured by U.S. special operations forces in Baghdad,” one month after the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003. He died one year later from natural causes. The U.S. had finally gotten their man, but it was the fecklessness of world leaders that allowed Abbas to roam free.

Another historic milestone also recently passed. On Sept. 30, 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed, prompting British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to announce that he had helped achieve “peace in our time.” The agreement held that France and Great Britain would stand idly by allowing Germany to annex a large swath of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain gave Hitler what he wanted in return for the promise of peace. Exactly one year later, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, catapulting the world into the most costly and devastating war in human history. How did that appeasement work out?

Appeasement of bad men does not make them good. Appeasement of evil does not make it less evil. If someone is determined to commit atrocities, then they should not be given leave to do so. Appeasement only works if you are the strongest one in the discussion. No one feels the need to appease the weak. We must return to “peace through strength.”

Peace should always be the desired goal. But the means to reach that goal will never be found in weakness. The goal is peace, but the means to peace is strength. Come to the table and discuss peace, but hold the biggest stick at the table and you will get more done.

Speaking at the Republican National Convention in 1980, Reagan said, “We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then that tyrants are tempted.”

Reagan’s foreign policy, known as the Reagan Doctrine, supported freedom for all people around the world. His commitment to “peace through strength” led to the modernization of the U.S. military, believing that doing so would not only contain communism but defeat it.

Within a few short years, the Soviet Union fell. The ’80s became a resurgent era for the U.S. economy, foreign policy, and standing on the world stage. The world recognized that the U.S. was no longer in the business of appeasement.

I don’t believe the same could be said of our position in the world today. At every turn, the Biden administration weakens our national security, foreign policy, military readiness, border security, economic well-being, and energy independence. This is, in large part, because we do not operate from a position of strength. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. operates, once again, under the fallible cloak of appeasement.

The concept of peace through strength is the surest and most effective way to promote safety and security at home and abroad. Our enemies are growing stronger and bolder every day in the face of feckless and reckless appeasement. We must be willing to lead, guide, and direct from a position of strength if we are to remain a beacon for the world. We will only do so if we project the attitude of peace through strength.

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