By Rachel Ehrenfeld, Amb. Henry F. Cooper
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 @ 10:33PM
November 27, 2013
As we pause to give thanks for all our blessings, it is good to remember lessons learned from those who came before us, and to recommit ourselves to keeping this land free and prosperous for those who follow us. Memories give us a context for seeing and meeting our opportunities to leave this land better than we found it-with the help of the Sovereign of the Universe. So may it be . . .
It is easy to become discouraged with all the bad news-especially during this week when we should be preparing to give thanks for the blessings of this great land we call home.
In times like these, it is helpful to recall the words of leaders, including those who found humor in difficult times, like Bob Hope who ended his performances with our troops with the words of our title-or Winston Churchill, who has been quoted as saying words to the effect that “The Americans will do the right thing, after they have exhausted the alternatives.”
I hope we are approaching that phase with Iran, especially given the alleged “historic agreement” worked out last weekend-more aptly referred to by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “historic mistake” that some have compared to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s alleged “peace in our time” appeasement that set the stage for Adolf Hitler’s agression leading to World War II. No laughing matter, indeed. And appalling given reports that these negotiations have been secretly underway for many months.
A Bad Alternative.
The French Foreign Minister had it right when he referred to Secretary of State John Kerry’s earlier attempt at closing the deal as a “sucker deal.” Too bad he backed off from that correct assessment-wonder what we paid for that?
The good news is that even leaders in the President’s party recognize the mistake of backing off on the sanctions, which were working, without any real retreat on Iran’s intended march to a nuclear weapons capability.
The sanctions were provided at the initiative of the U.S. congress after all. Thus, it is not inconsistent for the third ranking Democrat Senator, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to observe in a formal press release that “Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions. This disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December. I intend to discuss that possibility with my colleagues.”
Actually, Iran did not even “freeze” its processing as Sen. Schumer claimed-or hit the “pause button” rather than the “delete button” as former CIA Director Michael Hayden told CNN’s Candy Crowley last Sunday.
I prefer to refer to the action as a “stutter step,” presumably well known to President Obama because of his interest in Basketball-and the Ayatollah Khamenei got the best of him in that move and blew past him on Iran’s unwavering path toward a nuclear capability.
At most, the pace changed . . . the time to “break out” and gain a nuclear capability may have doubled, from what some already had judged to be as little as a couple of months. And the U.S. implicitly concurred with Iran’s right to continue reprocessing nuclear material with some 19,000 centrifuges. It is no wonder there was Iranian cheering the streets of Tehran.
Meanwhile, it appears that Iran does not agree with the White House version of the agreement anyway. Click here to read their version of the text of the agreement, and stay tuned for further developments.
Hopefully, Sen. Schumer’s (and others’) interest in additional sanctions will not fade in the political milieu over the Thanksgiving break-and Congress will take action to overcome the obvious shortcomings of the President’s penchant for “executive agreements” that are not in the U.S. interest-and not only this one.
We should also consider the possibility that the administration has set a terrible precedent from which we may not recover in time to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear capability. And not only Israel may suffer from that strategic error.
In any case, congress should reject the administration’s diplomatic approach for dealing with Iran-and support efforts to build effective ballistic missile defenses and to harden the electric power grid to counter Iran’s potential of launching an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could ultimately lead to the death of most Americans.
The True Meaning of Thanksgiving.
This week, we should not forget that the first Thanksgiving of that small band of Puritans in Massachusetts reflected an early variant of the American tradition of eventually getting it right after exhausting the alternatives.
For two years following their arrival in America they struggled under an attempt to govern according to the aspirations of Plato’s Republic-not only to be religiously devout, but also in a community based on communal sharing and social altruism. All would share in common-no private property or rewards for entrepreneurship.
It didn’t work out well, as recorded in the diary of Plymouth’s Governor, William Bradford. They cleared and worked the land, but they had no great harvest and the spirit of brotherhood withered. As he recorded, there was no incentive of individuals to work hard since they were all to share equally in the products of the corporate labor. Initially, the lazy did not work-but eventually even the industrious also lost interest and worked less.
After two years of this failure of socialism/communism, Bradford and the elders of the colony realized that they were on the edge of extinction. So they decided to try something radically different: They assigned private property rights for divided parcels of land and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor. And Plymouth colony flourished! Not only did the produce satisfy the needs of each family, but there was plenty to share with others-individuals instituted trading according to their individual talents and the community prospered.
Thus was born American free enterprise, and benefits that far outpaced the attempt to “spread the wealth” and for government to plan and regulate people’s lives, per the utopian fantasy in Plato’s Republic. The Pilgrim Fathers tried and soon realized its bankruptcy and failure as a way for living together in society. And they fostered the innovative idea that when men and women are allowed to follow their own individual and family interests in improving their circumstances, all benefit. That was why they gave thanks on that first Thanksgiving.
And for Today?
In the wilderness of the New World, the Plymouth Pilgrims progressed from the false dream of communism to the sound realism of capitalism. In our time of economic uncertainty, it is worthwhile recalling this beginning of the American experiment and experience with freedom.
When we sit around our dining table with family and friends tomorrow, we should remember the birth of free enterprise in the New World of America-and the subsequent founding of our great nation. We need to thank God for these blessings, and commit ourselves to seeing them renewed and preserved.
This is the proper context for viewing the challenges before us-as Ronald Reagan, also often given to share humor in witty sayings, most soberly once warned:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
There are obvious implications of the Plymouth colony experience that cry out for America not to sink into an abyss of socialism. Beyond these spiritual concerns, there are existential physical threats that the powers that be need to address to protect all we hold dear. These threats include nuclear armed ballistic missiles to which Iran is steadily advancing.
As we give thanks for all the blessings we have, tomorrow we should pray that the Sovereign of the Universe meets our future needs. As Benjamin Franklin notably advised during the birth of our nation,
“I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel.”
Text originally published here.