In Face of Threats, America is Neither Shaken Nor Stirred


In Face of Threats, America is Neither Shaken Nor Stirred

Jan 17, 2003 3 min read

Senior Policy Analyst

It sounds like -- and could be -- a plot from a James Bond movie.

The dictator of a hermetic kingdom amasses a weapons stockpile that makes his otherwise desperately poor country the scourge of its region. The dictator finances his extravagant lifestyle and relentless weapons research and development by selling previous generations of weapons to many of the world's most unstable countries. The freedom-loving peoples -- the United States and Great Britain -- must stop him to save the world.

Unfortunately, this plot is all too real, and it's one battle not even the resourceful Mr. Bond can win. North Korea, the hermetic kingdom, secretly has shipped ballistic missiles and material to make nuclear bombs to rogue states, such as Syria, Yemen, Iran and Iraq. There, the weapons become part of the arsenal of terrorists who threaten western interests around the globe. It's blackmail in front of the entire world.

Of course, if this were a Bond adventure, we'd know from the familiar music that it's only a matter of time before the sleek, suave, secret agent who foils all international criminals without wrinkling his suit or spilling his martini (shaken -- not stirred, mind you), prevailed. Success is carefully scripted and takes long enough only for Bond to employ all his new gadgets, cars and powers of seduction.

In the real world, though, things rarely go so smoothly. The villains, such as North Korea's Kim Il-Jong and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, may be just as detestable as the Soviet-era foils in many Bond movies. But they are less predictable, more volatile and far more threatening. They command states. They can marshal -- in the case of North Korea -- more than a million active soldiers to their cause. They control weapons of mass destruction that threaten their neighbors for hundreds of miles in each direction.

That's the bad news. The good news is, though we have no super agents to match the exploits of 007, America is blessed with a leadership team that won't take the decisions on war and peace -- with their life-and-death consequences -- lightly.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has witnessed combat first-hand and felt the loss of men and women under his command. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has ordered soldiers onto the field of battle before. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, now a veteran hand on security matters, functions as the eyes and ears of President Bush. Vice-president Richard Cheney, who has served as secretary of defense and White House chief of staff, is a voracious reader of intelligence reports and valued adviser to the president.

What these individuals lack in Bond charm and flash, they more than make up for in skill, experience and intellect. They understand the gravity of their decisions, particularly those decisions that could mean the lives of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who would be placed in harm's way.

Those of us who have donned a military uniform appreciate the care and expertise these people bring to their jobs. They understand the importance of doing what needs to be done today instead of paying a larger price for freedom and security tomorrow.

Sometimes it's tough to do the right thing. It's even tougher when people on the sidelines, whose concept of war is limited to what they've seen on television, call you a hawk or charge that you want to make war to appease special interests.

At the end of the day, what draws us to Bond are not his gadgets, his martinis or his beautiful women; it's that we realize the sacrifice he makes when he has to drop all this to put his life on the line in defense of the free world. We should remember that Bond is the fantasy character, that few soldiers enjoy a life anything like his and that those in charge -- President Bush and his extremely qualified advisors -- realize the gravity of the situation and the decisions they are called upon to make.

We must trust these leaders have pursued all options before opting for war. Most importantly, once this decision is made, we must support the men and women in uniform who make our freedom possible. Bond is a fictional character, but the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters on the front lines are all too real. They give their time, their honor, their intellect, their skill and, sometimes, their lives in the name of freedom.

They're the real James Bonds. They're the heroes. Politics aside, whatever happens, they deserve our support.

Dexter Ingram, a former Naval Flight Officer, is a threat assessment specialist & database editor in the Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy.

Originally appeared in and The Boston Herald.