I spent last week doing something I would much rather have not — being the bearer of bad news about the UN-brokered cease-fire in the conflict in Lebanon. By Friday night, I found myself actually apologizing to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren for having to be so blunt. But the truth is, as William Bennett pointed out on National Review Online last week, it doesn’t help the cause of the democracies to pretend that a defeat is a victory.
And that is precisely what the United Nations cease-fire resolution is: a defeat for Israel, a defeat for the United States and a defeat for all of the democracies.
This ceasefire is not a precursor to peace.
But don’t just take my word for it. Within 24 hours of the cease-fire, in a series of carefully orchestrated statements, the dictators of Iran and Syria both claimed credit for defeating not just Israel, but America as well.
Remember, these are the dictators who finance and direct the terrorist group Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel. And their statements — coming within just three hours of each other — left no room for doubt: The conflict that began with their terrorist attacks on Israel had ended in a way that has boosted the morale of every terrorist watching and emboldened every dictatorship.
‘God’s Promises Have Come True’
The Syrian dictator Assad spoke first on Tuesday — within 24 hours of the ceasefire’s taking effect in Lebanon. He declared that America’s plans for transforming the Middle East have been ruined. And then he spoke these chilling words to the Israelis: “Your weapons are not going to protect you — not your planes or missiles or even your nuclear bombs … The future generations in the Arab world will find a way to defeat Israel.”
Just a few hours later, before cheering crowds, Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad spoke next. “God’s promises have come true,” said the man who has vowed to wipe the state of Israel off the map and defeat America. And just so we wouldn’t miss it, the Iranian dictator spoke directly to the democracies and declared that we “shouldn’t think that, with the cease-fire, everything is finished.”
Then the tyrant who is aggressively pursuing a nuclear bomb threatened to “punish” America for supporting Israel and demanded that all nations “bow down to the dignity and to the nobility of our people. And if you don’t do that, our people, the nation of Iran, will make you do that.”
No Evidence Hezbollah Will Be Disarmed
These are not encouraging words to come from some of the world’s most dangerous dictators in the aftermath of a so-called cease-fire in Lebanon. Of course, just because the dictators of Iran and Syria have declared victory in this conflict doesn’t make it so. But the facts, regrettably, speak for themselves.
There is no evidence that Hezbollah, the aggressor, is going to be disarmed, despite the hopeful words of the UN resolution. And if Hezbollah is not going to be disarmed, the cease-fire amounts to little but a lie. Because if Hezbollah is not eliminated as a threat to Israel, all the cease-fire will do is put additional UN troops in Lebanon, behind which Hezbollah will recruit, organize and prepare for the next war with Israel. We will have made Israel’s job defending itself harder, not easier.
A Revolution in Health Care — at the Office
All of my activity of late hasn’t been focused on the war in the Middle East, of course. I recently published an op-ed with my colleague from the Center for Health Transformation, David Merritt, a bit of which I would like to share with you.
Did you know that more than 40 percent of CEOs cite health-care costs as the greatest threat to their businesses — more than energy, litigation and pensions combined? The American people have created the greatest economic engine in the history of the world, but the cost of health care threatens to stall it.
Still, there are concrete steps employers can take now to begin not only to reduce their health-care costs, but also to improve the health of their employees. Here is how David and I put it in our op-ed:
“Employers should radically redesign the way they purchase health care. Our current system pays doctors, hospitals and other providers based on the volume of services and procedures performed, not on their outcomes. A new model must compensate providers based on the quality and efficiency of the medical care they deliver.
“As with any supplier, employers should hold their health-care suppliers accountable for delivering better health outcomes at lower costs — and drop them if they do not measure up.”
This is just the first step in how employers can lower costs and improve the health of their employees. You can read the whole op-ed here.
Reasons to Hope
Lastly, despite all the unsettling news in the world, there are real reasons to hope this week.
I have long believed, with my friend, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Andy von Echenbach, the former head of the National Cancer Institute, that eliminating cancer as a cause of death by 2015 is a real and achievable goal. Well, last week, I was happy to see that ending cancer deaths in our lifetime now has bipartisan support.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Benjamin Cardin, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D.), gathered together cancer survivors and doctors to announce his support for ending the pain and suffering of cancer. “We’re going to lick cancer by 2015,” Cardin said.
Benjamin Cardin and I don’t see eye-to-eye on much, but in achieving this goal, we are in complete agreement.
There is great hope in the medical advances being made in the war on cancer. And there is also, I believe, reason for hope in the war in the Middle East. But we must insist upon candor and clarity from our leaders. We owe it to ourselves to have the nerve to look at the situation in the Middle East — and in the world — clearly and understand the threats to the democracies for what they are, not sugar-coat them or kid ourselves. Then and only then can we go about the work that America does best: defending ourselves and our allies by defending freedom.
P.S. –– Last week, I released a white-paper on my website focusing on how Republicans can win this November. In “Thinking About November,” I write:
“Nobody should underestimate the importance of the national conversation in late October and early November in deciding the election outcome. If the national conversation is about past Republican failures of performance (a referendum), then Republicans will lose. If, however, the conversation is a fact-based discussion about reality, the nature of the world, the serious threats we face, and which sets of ideas and solutions will best serve the American people as we move toward the future, and how destructive a choice for the Left would be (a choice), then Republicans can win.”
Then I outline how Republicans can define that choice for America. Click here to read “Thinking About November.”
Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With all the turmoil in Congress over the past few years, it seems the Republicans are slipping off the conservative platform. I see this as a very good opportunity for a third party to become the heart and soul party for true Americans. What do you say, Newt?
Thank you for the question, Merrill. Having worked to create a Republican majority since 1978, I certainly share your frustration. As you know, in 1994, we won on a “Contract with America.” At that time, I would have expected that by now we would have a comfortable majority in the House and the Senate. But the fact is that, today, we are nowhere near it. In fact, we are in danger of losing our majority. After we delivered on implementing the Contract, what we really needed was a second Contract to solidify our majority and to begin building a stable conservative majority for a generation.
Now, as you say, we see that many Republicans in Congress have drifted from their conservative principles that brought us victory a decade ago, but a third party is not the answer.
If you share my goal of a stable conservative governing majority, then we have work to do. Let’s get to it.
First, in order to create the stable conservative Republican majority we want, we simply must preserve all the Republican seats this November. Failing to support Republican members in November will get us only further from the goal.
Then we need to train the next generation of conservative leaders into the language of solutions. I am quick to point out that this was one of my failures as Speaker.
Training the next conservative leaders begins with understanding our current political environment. The country is in the midst of a political realignment. But the new alignment might not be toward one party or the other. Instead, voters will ignore partisan politics and look to leaders who will implement real change.
Let me describe for you three boxes. The first box is historic. We are living in historic times. September 11 fits into this box as an historic event that led to our commitment to defeat our enemies who are engaged in a war with us and are using terrorism as their tactic.
The second box is personal. In many ways, the Global War on Terror or what I have described as an emerging third world war affects us personally. You may know someone who is serving in the military and fighting in the war overseas. Other policy zones easily fit into this box such as healthcare, tax policy, education or energy. They all affect us personally.
The third box is politics. Most voters don’t want to hear from this box right now. They want real solutions to real problems. They quickly identify politicians who are stuck in this box and dismiss them. Voters want to engage in solutions to winning the war, lowering energy prices, accessing quality healthcare and educating their children.
Republicans in Washington can take advantage of the current realignment by getting out of the political box as quickly as possible and speaking to the first two boxes — the historic events and the issues that affect voters’ lives personally. The Republicans are in trouble because they are currently presiding over and defending the hopelessly outdated government institutions that are failing to deliver.
So the solution is not to create a third party but to instead train a new generation of conservative Republican leaders how to develop, communicate and implement a generation of solutions following this path:
- Conservative leaders must have a vision.
- Conservative leaders must have ideas and solutions to achieve that vision.
- Conservative leaders must be able to communicate both the vision and the ideas and solutions to the country in a way that the country comes to decide that it wants this vision and these ideas and solutions and that it will force Washington to pay attention to them. This is what happened in 1994 and is consistent with Margaret Thatcher’s words: “first you win the argument, then you win the vote.”
- Conservative leaders must be able to take this mandate from the people and formulate and implement a practical policy that fulfills the original vision, which is not bound by the artificial limitations of Washington’s industrial-age bureaucratic requirements.
- Conservative leaders must ensure that the policy is implemented correctly. It is not enough to just “get it,” we have to get it DONE.
- Conservative leaders must apply real-time measurable metrics to ensure that the policy is working, and if it is not, make adjustments.
If we do this, we will succeed. If we don’t, we will fail. It is just that simple.