Jewish World Review March 3, 2003/ 29 Adar I, 5763
The demonstrators doth
demonstrate too much
The worldwide anti-war movement hasn't accomplished
much, but it has made George Bush and not Saddam Hussein
the villain in certain European precincts. The demonstrators,
who might have attacked Franklin D. Roosevelt instead of
Adolf Hitler two generations ago, are looking through the
wrong end of their binoculars. They're appealing to abstract
notions of compassion instead of real issues of humanity.
Andrew Sullivan, the blogger columnist, gets it right. The
war against Saddam Hussein, he writes, has taken on the
contours of the culture wars: "Almost the whole academic
class, the media elites, the college-educated urbanites, the
entertainment industry and so on are now reflexively
anti-war." The dogma is as inflexible and non-debatable as
political correctness. And yet everything that Saddam
Hussein stands for is an anathema to the people who make
up these categories.
In Iraq there is no free speech. Amnesty International has
carefully documented the torture of Iraqi women and children
in the presence of their husbands, brothers and fathers. Iraqi
dissidents are tortured with cigarette burns and electric
shocks, and then murdered.
George W. Bush and Tony Blair are routinely derided on
the posters and placards of demonstrators as "baby killers,"
but it was Saddam Hussein who gassed whole Kurdish
families. At least 100,000 Kurds were killed in
'near-genocidal" proportions, the first ethnic group since the
Holocaust to be targeted for death by its own government.
Most of the Kurds were not murdered by poison gas, writes
Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker magazine, "rather the
genocide was carried out, in large part, in the traditional
manner, with roundups at night, mass executions, and
In Amman, Jordan, where a number of dissident Iraqi
exiles have fled, men show their scars from the regime's
torture chambers. "The people who are protesting the war
don't know what the regime is like," says one young man,
showing cigarette burns on a shin and scars on neck and
breast from a brutal whipping with a power-cable. He says to
a reporter for the Village Voice: "You tell Bush my people
are waiting for him."
The argument of the anti-war movement is for delay and
containment, but since delay is really an argument for more
delay, the movement is really about hating the president and
the attitudes he represents. The Europeans resent our
prosperity and power and show disdain for the "McCulture"
they deride but can't get enough of. Recent public-opinion
polls in Germany show that almost three-quarters of the
Germans say America has "too much power," and more than
half find us a greater threat to peace than either Iraq or North
Unlike the peaceniks of the Vietnam War era, the
peaceniks so far show no sympathy or apology for Saddam
Hussein; there is no cry similar to "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; Ho
Chi Minh Will Win." The demonstrators have appropriated
only one memorable cliche from their parents: "Make Love
There seems scant idealism among either the American
and European demonstrators, no cries for "a better world."
There's mostly a continual dump on Israel for not creating a
Palestinian state, which has become an acceptable form of
anti-Semitism. But if Saddam Hussein is nobody's friend,
expecting him to change his ways is as naive as it would have
been to expect Hitler to have changed his in the 1930s. It
didn't happen then and it won't happen now. War made the
difference then and war will make the difference now.
It's always impossible to "prove" what will happen in the
future. That's what Tony Blair meant when he said that no
one would have believed a modern-day Jeremiah saying in
August 2001 that an al Qaeda terrorist network would have
to be destroyed and that the only way to do it was to invade
Afghanistan: "Yet, my goodness," he says, "a few weeks
later, thousands of people were killed in the streets of New
York." When Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor, it felt the
wrath of world opinion, but who's sorry about that now?
Bill Clinton correctly identified the evil of Saddam Hussein
five years ago. He saw him as the leader of a "rogue state
with the weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or
provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers or organized
criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed." Too bad
that all he did about Saddam was to give him more time.
More delay now in doing what nearly everyone agrees will
have to be done sooner or later signals a deadly reluctance to
deal not only with Saddam, but future predators who will be
- and maybe already are - gathering the chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We can't
see into the future, but we can learn from the past, if we only
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