Before the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the movie Braveheart (1995):
Stephen: Fine speech. Now what do we do?
William Wallace: Just be yourselves.
Hamish: Where are you going?
William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.
As I write this, I can imagine your eyes rolling. I often quote the movie Braveheart. And why not? Among the many messages in this story, one of the strongest is also one of the more conservative – that of actively fighting evil.
Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations on Tuesday of this week was likely the best of his administration so far (emphasis mine).
But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.
Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.
International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.
To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.
We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.
A quick, rhetorical analysis goes as follows (Sender/Receiver/Purpose/Medium): President Trump (Sender), leader of the free world, speaks (Medium) in person to the leaders of 192 other member countries of the United Nations General Assembly (Receiver) at the UN headquarters in New York. His Purpose, it seems, was to impart a message of freedom, peace, and prosperity for the world, and urge the UN to take the necessary steps to confront evil, socialism, and inaction. But what now?
My friends, we have spent a good portion of the seven decades since World War II wringing our hands about evil. Republicans and Democrats alike have appeased, cajoled, and bent over backwards to dictators and tyrants in an attempt to achieve what they believe (or at least expect us to believe) is lasting peace. For such efforts, some have broken their arms patting themselves on the back as they skip away from history. When the regimes break their promises, as everyone knew they would, we go back to the negotiating table to strike a new deal. Time and again.
We should not and cannot nuke everyone we disagree with. But our national interests and security require we put out fires before they come to our shores and the shores of our friends. President Trump’s words are good and necessary; my concern is what will happen if they aren’t backed by action. Our allies who depend on us, and our enemies who should respect us, are all watching. As Malone in the movie The Untouchables asked: What are you prepared to do?
There are multiple ways to deal with evil regimes – economically, militarily, politically, and culturally. Each situation calls for its own set of tools. It is my hope that Trump’s speech was merely the preamble to an in-play onslaught of American might not just to put evil on notice, but stamp it out wherever we can.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.