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Commentary: Admirability of 'Going It Alone'

All Things Considered: September 5, 2002

Going it Alone


Critics of the Bush administration's edging towards liberating Iraq have recently hit upon a zinger of an attack. We'd be going it alone. When did going it alone get such a negative connotation?


Commentator Ken Adelman.

ADELMAN: It's presumed better not to go at all than to go it alone. Since when? Our Founding Fathers chose to go it alone when creating the world's sole democracy in 1776. They envisioned America as a solitary sitting on the hill that would inspire others to adopt freedom.

The man I regard as the greatest figure of the last century, Winston Churchill, took pride in Britain's standing alone to resist Adolf Hitler. On June 18th, 1940, the new Prime Minister Churchill described his iron will to stand alone to defend civilization, as Britain did for the ensuing year. Churchill rang out in the House of Commons that Britain would proceed so that for a thousand years men will still say, `This was their finest hour.'

In the mid-1950s, a young Senator John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Profiles in Courage" to celebrate eight senators who defied groupthink to do what was right. To Kennedy, going it alone was glorious, not regrettable. Now that the president has given his clear direction, to liberate Iraq and protect American from chemical, biological and soon nuclear weapons, others will climb aboard, including Britain, Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar and Israel.

The first time we ran this drama in 1990, the coalition against Saddam Hussein was formed only after the first President Bush declared that Saddam's aggression will not stand, and ordered 540,000 American troops over there. There was no coalition for military action before there was clear US military action to move forces into the Gulf. We enlisted others precisely because right out of the box we were willing to go it alone. That's how America was formed and how America should act today.

LYDEN: Ken Adelman is a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board.

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