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Jewish World Review June 27, 2005 / 20 Sivan, 5765

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The limits of dissent

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | No country can win a conflict the way the USA is fighting the war on terror. Every move the Bush administration makes is scrutinized, criticized and roundly chastised by dissenters who firmly believe the president, himself, is responsible for much of the anti-American hatred around the world. The chorus is deafening. Bush "lied" about Iraq. Bush is violating civil liberties by supporting the Patriot Act. The president sanctions torture and is a major human rights violator. Every day there is another page one story telling Americans we are the bad guys.

The dissenters claim that what they're doing is patriotic, that they love America and just want to improve it. They claim that loyal dissent is one of the finest traditions of democracy.

But there is a difference between dissenting from a war and trying to undermine a war, which is clearly what some Americans are doing. Sen. Richard Durbin's recent comments comparing a few rough interrogations at Guantanamo Bay to what the Soviets and Nazis did was No. 1 with a bullet on Al Jazeera. That anti-American network couldn't get enough of Dick Durbin. For days his opinion echoed through the Arab world inflaming even more hatred toward the USA.

Like Jane Fonda, Durbin claimed he was just trying to stop an immoral policy. But that argument is hollow in the face of the facts. More than 68,000 interrogations have taken place since 9/11, and the alleged abuses number in the hundreds. The Pentagon says it is actively prosecuting valid cases of abuse, and, in a time of war, it might be wise to give the U.S. military the benefit of the doubt.

During World War II, widely considered the last "good" war, there was tight government control of information. No pictures of dead American soldiers were released to the public until 1943, two years after the conflict began. The Office of War Information made it quite clear to the press that any intentional undermining of the conflict would be punished. Even Hollywood scripts and newsreels were vetted. The U.S. government strictly censored what Americans saw and heard about the war even where atrocities were concerned.

After German SS troops massacred 86 American soldiers at Malmedy in Belgium on Dec. 17, 1944, some units like the U.S. 11th Armored Division took revenge on captured German soldiers. In the Pacific, relatively few Japanese prisoners were taken in the brutal island fights. But the folks back home never heard about those things or what techniques were used to interrogate prisoners who might know where the next ambush would be. The American military did what they had to do in order to win. As General Patton once said to his army: "I do not advocate standing Germans up against the wall and shooting them — so shoot the sons of b——— before you get them to the wall."

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George Patton would not be allowed to serve in combat today. The New York Times would make sure of that. The International Red Cross would be all over Patton and his aggressive Third Army. Dick Durbin would be appalled. But it is Patton that we need right now to defeat the barbarians who would kill all of us in the name of Allah. The "human rights" people really have no clue. The war on terror is the ultimate war. If Al Qaeda gets nuclear weapons, those people will use them.

It is true that the United States must stand above the Huns. We must not stoop to torturing detainees or committing battlefield atrocities. But mistakes happen in all wars, and we are now fighting an invisible enemy. They wear no uniforms, they obey no rules of engagement.

It is time for Americans to decide exactly who is looking out for them. The government and military, both of which are trying to defeat vicious killers, or those who are on a jihad to undermine the war on terror in the name of patriotism? The battle lines are clearly drawn. Which side are you on?

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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