The American psyche, if not American resolve, has been deeply shaken by the events of Sept. 11 and the subsequent anthrax scare. President Bush has warned that victory over the Taliban will not come quickly and the war against terrorism may never end. America could use some confidence-building measures right now.
It isn't that government is doing too little. We see officials parading in front of microphones and Pentagon briefers conduct show-and-tell sessions about bombs destroying targets in Afghanistan. We know a lot of money is being spent. Anthrax has infected the cable networks 24/7. We need the equivalent of the post-Pearl Harbor Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo. The raid itself had little military significance but did wonders for American morale, confidence and cohesiveness.
The United States has been the breadbasket to the world and has welcomed the world here. We have, and are forgiving debt and handing out foreign aid alms like Scrooge when he faced his own mortality, though we have never been Scrooge-like in our generosity. We've enriched Arab nations by buying their oil; it's not our fault that they have failed to use those resources to better the lives of their people. Now we learn that many countries hate us, mostly because their political and religious leaders need an enemy to deflect attention from the economic and social misery at home — for which they are largely responsible.