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Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2001 /21 Mar-Cheshvan 5762

Don Feder

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Pacifism isn't just wrong, it's immoral -- AS the U.S. deploys more special forces in Afghanistan, other forces have mobilized. Professional pacifists have resurrected the moldy cliches and self-righteous pieties of the '60s.

All that's missing is Joan Baez singing "Blowin' in the Wind" and Dr. Spock urging them on.

Last week, anti-war demonstrations were held in a dozen cities. From Los Angeles to Minneapolis, the arguments advanced against national self-defense were depressingly familiar.

Osama bin Laden should be brought to justice before the United Nations, declared a speaker at a Denver rally. And will the Taliban, which has resisted surrendering bin Laden after a month of heavy bombing, hasten to honor an arrest warrant from the U.N. bureaucracy?

"We want to call attention to the humanitarian disaster that is taking place in Afghanistan as a direct result of the campaign to bomb that country. Seven million Afghans are on the verge of starvation," croaked Candice Larson of the Portland, Ore., Peaceful Response Coalition.

News Flash -- Millions of Afghans have been starving in refugee camps for years. They are victims of the Taliban's lunacy. If our air offensive hastens the regime's demise, it will do more to end starvation in Afghanistan than all of the aid packages we've dropped to date.

A speaker in Los Angeles disclosed -- in the hushed tones of revelation -- that the bombing will not solve "societal problems such as police brutality and homelessness." Nor, for that matter, will it end road rage or produce a cure for the common cold.

If, after Pearl Harbor, America had waited to solve its social problems before fighting back, we would now be the westernmost province of the empire of the rising sun.

Violence solves nothing, is the protestors' universal refrain. Nonsense. Violence gave America its independence. Violence saved the Union and freed the slaves. Violence kept Hitler from killing the rest of Europe's Jews.

For the flower-power brigade, there's always an excuse to turn tail and run. Prior to World War II, isolationists told us Hitler was a nationalist who had legitimate grievances against the West.

During the Vietnam War, campus protestors hailed the Viet Cong as agrarian reformers. It wasn't our war, they wailed. But it was our fight -- and millions of dead Cambodians and Vietnamese, who were murdered by the victors, wish we'd won it.

And the Gulf War? "Blood for oil," anti-war activists chanted. Then they drove away in their VW buses to well-heated homes, paid for with jobs dependent on reliable energy supplies.

The current conflict has pacifists scrambling to find new slogans. The old ones have such a hollow ring.

Are the Taliban thugs idealistic reformers? Is Osama bin Laden an aggrieved nationalist? Does Afghanistan have oil we covet? If the murder of 5,000 Americans on American soil doesn't make it our fight, I'd like to know what does.

But logic is irrelevant to the protestors. Their pacifism isn't an idea they've thought through, but a blindly adhered to belief system.

Pacifism isn't just wrong; it's immoral. Individuals have a moral right to choose not to defend themselves when attacked. They have no right to demand that others commit suicide by proxy.

Not to punish mass murder is to acquiesce to evil. Pacifism is a betrayal of the innocent. It invites more aggression -- witness Munich, witness the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, witness our muted response to other acts of terrorism (the 1983 bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania), which surely encouraged al Qaeda.

Is there anyone to the right of Ralph Nader who doesn't understand that not to respond militarily would embolden the terrorists and lead to more demolished skyscrapers?

Pacifism works well -- as long as pacifist pleading goes largely unheeded and anti-war activists remain a distinct minority. Then they can feel noble while others fight their battles and protect their freedom.

Only the battlefield sacrifices of generations of our best and bravest have given us a country where pacifists can bad-mouth America in comfort and security.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate