Jewish World Review March 24, 2002/ 20 Adar II, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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The scary prospect of American success | There was not much shock, and in the early hours of the Iraqi war very little awe. But if you were Saddam Hussein, and if you still hadn't been blown to the spirit world to collect your 73 hookers, there was calamity and dread enough.

There's dread aplenty as well in the ranks of George W.'s critics at home. This war, even if it lasts a little longer than the pundits, military analysts and cheerleaders expect, already looks like it might be the success that attracts a thousand fathers.

The crowds of demonstrators against the war are thinning, even in the Peoples Republic of San Francisco, where some of the demonstrators induced vomiting yesterday, soiling the sidewalks outside a federal office building, to demonstrate that the war makes them sick. What actually makes them sick about the war is not necessarily that it will be nasty and brutish, but likely to be all too brief. "Demonstrating" is all these people have to do.

The New York Times, which has crusaded against disarming Saddam for months, all but conceded yesterday: "If things go as well as we hope, even those who sharply disagree with the logic behind this war are likely to end up feeling reassured, almost against their will, by the successful projection of American power." Translation: "We've got to be prepared for the worst. It looks like it might be a slam dunk for George W. Bush."

Tom Daschle, Robert Byrd and Nancy Pelosi are left to wallow in the squalor of their own angry juices, like a crying child lying wet and cold in a darkened crib. M. Chirac, gritting his teeth as if his laxative is not working, finally offered French "help" but only if Saddam Hussein uses chemical or biological weapons. The prospect of the English-speaking allies marching into Baghdad to the music of a triumphant desert song is more that M. Chirac can bear. But his was an empty promise, since Mr. Chirac has been assuring us for months that Saddam has no such weapons. Mr. Chirac doesn't want to contribute to the success of English-speaking allies in any way, but France must have a piece of the spoils. This is hardly the offer George W. can't refuse; the president and his men are still trying to decide which is worse, French assistance or anthrax.

Even our Canadian friends are having second thoughts about the high costs of high principle. Throwing rocks was fun only while it lasted. Prime Minister Jean Chretien's very own spokesman had to be canned after she called George W. "a moron" and a leading member of parliament was cheered when she said she hates the "damned Americans" and called us "bastards." What is clear now is the sobering knowledge that 75 percent of Canada's foreign trade is with the United States. So far Canada has escaped the kind of anger directed at France only because in 225 years no American has ever thought about Canada. Not even once. All that Americans know about Canada is that it makes ginger ale and a nice dry mixer for gin and vodka.

The sources of all this hatred of George W. Bush are not difficult to locate. The source is found in three places. There's unreasoning resentment of America in the capitals of "old Europe" (even at the Vatican); a lot of it is jealousy of "undeserved" wealth and the guiltless ease with which Americans relish their wealth and freedoms. Much of the anger at home can be traced to Broward County, Florida, and, for the old lefties, to downtown Saigon, circa 1968.

A lot of Democrats are stuck in the past, nursing failure and defeat. They just can't get over the '00 election. George W.'s smashing victory in the '02 congressional elections (and his prospects of a third consecutive happy November) rubbed a lot of out-of-joint noses in a sour mash of failure and defeat.

The old lefties in America are running on Viagra, prune juice and stale rhetoric left over from the Vietnam War. They're joined in the streets by out-of-work actors, smug preachers with empty pews and a few sophomores who have heard all the war stories and yearn to live in that imagined romantic past, like Civil War re-enactors fantasizing about Chancellorsville.

The old lefties can't wait for the photographs and television footage of burned women and mutilated children, to see their country humiliated and their president branded a war criminal. But deep down they understand that time and circumstance are not likely to be kind to them this time. George W. is running a compassionately conservative war, going after Saddam and his evil cohort first and trying to shock and awe frightened Iraqi generals and their troops into going AWOL before the liberating army breaks up all the furniture.

Demonstrators against the Vietnam War used to speculate on what would happen "if they gave a war and nobody came." Since it takes two to fight, there are early indications that this may be that war. This is the prospect that frightens George W.'s critics most of all.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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