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Jewish World Review April 7, 2003 / 5 Nisan, 5763

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Their goal is to watch the force for good die | Those Americans who continue to protest against the war in Iraq, now that it has begun and our forces are on the ground, are protesting America itself.

Susan Sarandon and friends, call your offices.

Once again the truth of America's basic goodness was driven home with the dramatic rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. Our troops regularly put their lives on the line for those of us here at home, and for their comrades on the battlefield.

Compare that to the Iraqi regime, which welcomes opportunities to murder its own citizens, including women and children, particularly if it can engineer it so it causes international outrage against the United States.

We now know, thanks to the FOX News Channel, that it was Saddam's henchmen who forced women and children into a van, then coerced a terrified driver behind the wheel by threatening to murder his family if he didn't comply. He drove straight into an American military checkpoint in Iraq, ignoring warnings to stop. Sure enough, U.S. soldiers had no choice but to finally shoot into the car, killing several inside, all according to the regime's plan.

These are people who not only wouldn't rescue a fellow Iraqi, most particularly a woman, they would see her killed to advance their murderous cause.

O.K., so the Americans are more generous than the Iraqi military - even America's war protesters might grant that point. So what? Well the fact is, we're more generous than anybody. Unlike any other country that has ever existed, we fight wars only when we truly believe we have to defend ourselves or others, and we do our best to spare civilians and to rebuild the place when we leave.

Unique in human history and most amazing of all, our goal really is to leave, and to leave the place better off than when we got there.

Sure we've made big - make that huge - mistakes, like allowing Iraqi insurgents to get slaughtered after the last Gulf war and leaving Afghanistan way too soon after we helped wrest it from the Soviet grip. Yes, we've been responsible for too many lost lives. But unlike so many other countries, such actions have never been willful or desired.

Still, the fact remains that this war would be over today if we didn't care about Iraqi civilians. But we do, and far more than the Iraqi leadership does. Further, the world will be a better place, and America in particular will be a safer place, when the Iraqi regime is ousted.

So why do I get the distinct impression that many of the American war protesters, despite their cynical claims that they love their country, would actually be pleased if somehow America lost this war?

Because, apparently like the French and the Germans these days, these protesters see America as a power not for good in the world, but a power which has to be checked before it "gets out of line." As the London Telegraph observed:

"Now, as everybody keeps saying ... we are on the verge of a new world, in which the Communist Bloc no longer provides a check on American power. For some bizarre reason, this seems to be regarded as a matter of regret, even by people who are not actually old Stalinist reprobates."

And just what would an America run amok bring to the world anyway? Freedom, prosperity, unleashed ingenuity, a regard for the dignity of human life, the rule of law, a hope for a future?

Sheesh --- now that's scary.

American liberals did not protest American military action in Somalia or Bosnia, precisely because no U.S. national interest was at stake. But with an American interest in the balance, as in Iraq, comes the fear that an American victory would advance the cause of the United States in the world, and that is something American liberals most vehemently protest.

Such liberals would argue that a too powerful America would unleash more capitalist exploitation and environmental degradation. I've got news for them. For each of the thousands of people protesting this war in the United States, there are at least tens of thousands of people around the world who would risk their very lives if they had to to trade places with them.

Maybe we should try an exchange program?

Joe Klein of TIME magazine paid homage to America, calling it "the most benign superpower in history." But that's not right. As a superpower, America has been a powerful and energetic force for good, unrivaled by any country which has gone before us. The world would be a darker and uglier place if America were not such a powerful nation. And that truth is what American war protesters are really protesting.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2003, Scripps Howard News Service