Jewish World Review April 22, 2003 / 20 Nisan, 5763

Jonathan Gurwitz

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War opponents share burden of guilt | "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse."

John Stuart Mill, the British philosopher and economist, penned these words in 1859, in anticipation of the coming war in America over the issue of slavery. The Iraqi people have reminded us of this important dictum, with help from American, British, Australian and Polish military forces. But now, as in the past, there are those who refuse to see, or who see and refuse to acknowledge, that there are things worth fighting for.

In the spring of 1945, Allied troops moving across Germany and Austria discovered the magnitude of the Nazi death machine. On April 12, 1945, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower inspected the concentration camp at Ohrdruf, a satellite camp of Buchenwald. Shocked at the inhumanity, at the bodies stacked like cordwood, at the walking skeletons, he ordered Allied units not engaged at the front lines to the camps to see the carnage, and German citizens to witness and bury the victims of what some said they did not know, what others simply chose to ignore.

"We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for," Eisenhower wrote. "Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against."

Baathism, the guiding ideology of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, is a direct descendant of Nazism. It flourished not only because a small group of Iraqis were willing to perpetrate horrendous crimes against their fellow countrymen, but more importantly because foreign leaders, intellectuals, writers, businessmen and entertainers were either complicit in the atrocities of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, or knew about them but chose not to speak out against them.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of allied forces in Iraq, should borrow a page of history from Gen. Eisenhower. It would, of course, be pointless to force ordinary Iraqis to visit Saddam's torture chambers and sadistic political prisons. Nearly every Iraqi family has a victim, or knows someone who was a victim of Baathism. Estimates by human rights organizations and Iraqi dissident groups range from a few hundred thousand to as many as 2million Iraqi victims of Saddam's 23-year reign of terror.

It is those outside Iraq, those who enabled Saddam's killing machine, those who extended his rule through the perversion of diplomacy, those who protested and signed petitions against the "immoral war" to remove him from power but who never once mentioned Saddam's victims, whom Gen. Franks should force to see the meat hooks hanging from ceilings, the electrodes, the human meat grinders and the acid baths.

It is they who should be forced to see the flimsy coffins stacked one upon another, the thousands of corpses - men, women and children - with mutilated bodies and a single gunshot wound to the head. It is they who should be forced to see the pictures and read the record books of Saddam's victims - like the Nazis, Saddam's executioners kept detailed records in order to demonstrate their ideological commitment to the cause.

The line will be long. Kofi Annan. His former boss, Nazi Kurt Waldheim. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Ramsey Clark, Joschka Fischer and Dominique de Villepin. Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and, were he able, Ronald Reagan. Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Peter Arnett and Maureen Dowd. Noam Chomsky and the august members of academia's Middle East Studies Association. Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo and a hundred other Hollywood luminaries.

James McDermott and Pat Buchanan. Every bureaucrat and diplomat in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. And thousands of protesters who equated George W. Bush with Adolph Hitler and compared the American military to Nazi stormtroopers, while ignoring the most heinous crimes against the Iraqi people. And at the end of the long line twisting across the Iraqi sand will be, as in Dante's ninth level of Hell - reserved for the treacherous - Jacques Chirac.

In the liberated death camps, Allied chaplains frequently used mass burial services to chasten Germans for their role, directly or indirectly, in the Nazi atrocities. Army Chaplain George G. Wood offered this statement that should, for some time, ring in the penitent ears of Chirac and his fellow enablers of Saddam:

"Though you claim no knowledge of these acts, you are still individually and collectively responsible for these atrocities, for they were committed by a government elected to office and continued in office by your indifference to organized brutality."

JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz is a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. Comment by clicking here.


04/10/03: Iraqis get liberation and respect
03/28/03: Constitutionally protected SOBs
03/25/03: Morality changes with the times
03/12/03: Will all of those, ahem, "sincere" peace activists remember the Iraqis tomorrow?
02/27/03: Blood already on UN inspectors' hands

© 2003, Jonathan Gurwitz