Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2003 / 22 Adar I, 5763
A peace of the action
Because I was a college student from 1967-71, I am a primary source as far as peace demonstrations are concerned. I vividly remember the Vietnam protests and the rhetoric that was used back then: "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" It is eerily similar to what's going on today vis-a-vis Iraq.
Back then, many of the antiwar protestors considered America an evil place, full of warmongering politicians and a military intent on persecuting the people of Southeast Asia. The historical truth, however, turned out to be quite different.
I remember reading a book called "The Killing Fields" documenting the mass murder of up to 2 million Cambodians. Then I saw the movie starring Sam Waterston. What the Khmer Rouge did was exactly what the Nazis did. Yet the peace demonstrators in America said little about it, perhaps because they knew that if the United States had prevailed in Vietnam, the "killing fields" of neighboring Cambodia would not have happened.
In the early 90s, I decided to go to Vietnam myself to have a look around. The communist system there allows little freedom and much poverty. In Saigon, I was besieged by Vietnamese who wanted to send messages to relatives and friends in America. I could not offer any assistance, as my "minder" would not even allow me to take their letters.
The point is that for every action, there is a reaction. The Vietnam War was begun to prevent communism in Southeast Asia. The United States was not successful because our allies were corrupt and we fought on the defensive. But what happened after we left Vietnam was far worse in humanitarian terms than anything that happened during that war. Again, I wonder if the Vietnam peace crowd ever thinks about that.
Now we have a similar but far more threatening situation. Many people simply don't want to remove Saddam Hussein by force. But if force is not used, Saddam stays. That means more Iraqis will be tortured and killed, and whatever weapons Saddam has accumulated stay in play. And despite the rhetoric, it is simply impossible to find vials of hidden anthrax in a country the size of California.
And what if someday some of that anthrax finds its way to your house? An elderly Connecticut woman named Ottilie Lundgren experienced that. She's dead. I don't think many of the protestors remember her very well. Perhaps I'm wrong.
If the unthinkable happens and anthrax does show up in America again, chances are the FBI will not be able to trace it. The bureau could not trace the first batch. The arrival of anthrax means Americans will die, institutions will be shut down, and panic will ensue.
The peace protestors do not want to address that possibility the same way they do not want to address "the killing fields." No, the demonstrators are confident that the U.N. weapons inspectors can "contain" a murderous dictator who acknowledged to the United Nations after the Gulf War that he possessed plenty of anthrax and other stuff even worse. And Saddam remains defiant -- he will not account for those hideous weapons.
So the next time you see an antiwar demonstration or hear appeasers like Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder, think about Ottilie Lundgren and millions of faceless Cambodians. They died horribly, and no power was in place that could protect them.
Most of us know in our hearts that honest dissent is a strength of America and that war is a bad thing. But there are worse things, and every American should think about that.
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© 2001 Creators Syndicate