The Lincoln Speech
What a leader!


Michael Ledeen

Wow! Great scene, great speech, who could ask for anything more? He has it exactly right. We won a battle, we made military history, and we’ve changed the nature of warfare (the guilty are at greater risk than the innocent), the better to fulfill our national mission of spreading freedom. The tide has turned in the war against the terror masters, but there are many battles ahead. And the war remains what he said it was from the beginning: a war for freedom against tyranny.

May I brag? Is this not what The War Against the Terror Masters says?

It was time for this speech, because the contemporary attention span is so short. The world has largely forgotten September 11, and many of the chatterers have forgotten what this war is about, and it was good that he reminded them all. It was also good that he drew the lessons from the battle of Iraq so that the tyrants in Damascus, Tehran, Tripoli, Pyongyang, and Riyadh could understand them clearly. Now they know, if any of them doubted, that they are all on the list. And I particularly enjoyed his appeal to the Arab street — for that is what it was — when he said that anyone who fought for freedom would have a friend in America.

George W. is the most amazing president. How could anyone have imagined that such a man, who lacks all the credentials to conduct foreign policy (he hasn’t traveled, he hasn’t studied foreign cultures, he doesn’t speak foreign languages, his knowledge of world history is skimpy, and he hasn’t memorized the last decade of the New York Times) would turn out to have the best foreign-policy instincts imaginable? He reminds me more and more of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. He has the most important quality of a great leader: He instinctively finds the words to express what the American people believe. And his are simple words, not fancy ones.

What a pleasure.

Now let’s get on with the war. Faster, please.

— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen, Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, can be reached through Benador Associates.