20 July 2004
The Present Danger
Op-ed by Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Jon
(This column by Joe Lieberman, Democratic senator from Connecticut,
and Jon Kyl, Republican senator from Arizona, was published in
The Washington Post July 20 and is in the public domain. They are
honorary co-chairmen of the Committee on the Present Danger. No
The Present Danger
By Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl
The successful handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people last
month offers fresh hope for stability and democracy in their country,
but it could also mark a turning of the tide in the world war against
terrorism. While the deposed tyrant and terrorist Saddam Hussein
stands trial, the people of the great Muslim country he suppressed
for so long are now standing proud and free, and taking control
of their own destiny. And they are showing strong support for their
new leadership and new optimism about their democratic future.
According to a BBC/Oxford Research International poll released
this month, 55 percent of Iraqis believe their lives today are
quite good or very good, 56 percent believe their lives will get
better in the next year, and 70 percent believe Iraq needs democracy.
These survey results are significant because they show we are
making real progress in the war of values and ideas in Iraq, ideas
that are at the heart of the larger war on terrorism. Iraq has
become a proving ground for the freedom and security we are fighting
for, and a tough test of our resolve in this fight. The terrorists
in Iraq and beyond will never beat us militarily. But they can
defeat us politically if they succeed in their strategy to terrorize,
demoralize and divide America and its allies.
The liberation of Iraq has important implications for the region
and for the broader war on terrorism. The leaders of the Democratic
and Republican parties have so far stood firm in their commitment
to finish the job in Iraq and to fight to victory the war on terrorism.
But that bipartisan consensus is coming under growing public pressure
and could fray in the months ahead. Although the tide is turning
in the war on terrorism, a political undertow in this country could
wash out our recent gains. We must not let this happen.
To make sure it doesn't, we are relaunching today the Committee
on the Present Danger, a group of citizens of diverse political
persuasions who will work to sustain and strengthen bipartisan
support for the war on terrorism in Iraq and beyond.
The Committee on the Present Danger was first formed at the dawn
of the Cold War in 1950 to educate Americans about the growing
threat of Soviet communism. Democratic senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson
of Washington state revitalized the group in the mid-'70s; this
time it was focused on working for a stronger stance toward the
Soviets and the increased defense spending necessary to carry out
In this third incarnation, we intend to focus the committee on
the present danger our generation faces: international terrorism
from Islamic extremists and the outlaw states that either harbor
or support them. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks awoke all
Americans to the capabilities and brutality of our new enemy, but
today too many people are insufficiently aware of our enemy's evil
worldwide designs, which include waging jihad against all Americans
and reestablishing a totalitarian religious empire in the Middle
East. The past struggle against communism was, in some ways, different
from the current war against Islamist terrorism. But America's
freedom and security, which each has aimed to undermine, are exactly
the same. The national and international solidarity needed to prevail
over both enemies is also the same. In fact, the world war against
Islamic terrorism is the test of our time.
True to its history, the reborn Committee on the Present Danger
will advocate strong policies both against international terrorists
and their sponsors and in favor of freedom and security. We are
committed to advancing this common cause on a bipartisan basis.
In this war, our enemies do not distinguish between Democrats
and Republicans. All Americans are the targets of their hate, because
all Americans share the values they detest, the purpose that has
defined America since the founders declared our independence --
to secure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy said, "In
the long history of the world, only a few generations have been
granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.
I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it." Our
freedom is again in danger, this time from Islamist terrorism.
Our generation must not shrink from the responsibility to defend
it. Together, we will prevail, and freedom's reach will expand.
(Joe Lieberman is a Democratic senator from Connecticut. Jon Kyl
is a Republican senator from Arizona. They are honorary co-chairmen
of the Committee on the Present Danger.)