Philosophy often takes a back seat to politics. You have to dig through the rubble of partisanship and grab for power to get to it.
President Bush this week laid out his philosophy behind what's at stake in the war against terrorists.
In a speech to the graduating class at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, the president took advantage of the 60th Anniversary of D-Day (search) to compare this war with that war.
Both World War II and this war are world wars. Both involve a special kind of evil. Adolph Hitler (search) tried to exterminate the Jewish people and build a master race headed by the German elite.
Usama bin Laden and his fellow fanatics see a master race headed by them and claim the call of their God to eradicate everyone else.
The president chose to label today's conflict as a clash between political visions, not civilizations.
The president outlined the terrorist's vision of the world, one in which radical and sadistic governments gain power; where terrorists are supported and sheltered; and where women are oppressed and children are taught to hate, kill and die young.
The American vision, he said, could not be more different. It is based on liberty and respect for human dignity.
Those who hold civil and religious power over others and claim life's goodies for themselves naturally do not want to give up their preferred positions. That is why they are fighting to keep people from living as they like, not as they are told.
World War II lasted six years. America's involvement lasted less than four years. This world war against terrorists will last a lot longer than that. We had better get used to it. And we had better win it.
And that's Column One for this week.
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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.