I could start this column with the old cliche: "Here we go again." Another war, another antiwar peace movement. But first, I want to say that I do not want to criticize those members of our society who by their moral or religious convictions are against all wars that involve the killing of humans by other humans, regardless of the cause. These people are a small minority and many of them have served our country well in non-combative roles during America's conflicts.
With that disclaimer, I see a big difference between those pacifists and the majority of the people who are marching in today's peace rallies. There is also a distinct difference between the Vietnam antiwar movement and the crowds that are assembling to protest the impending war on Iraq. The Vietnam protesters were mostly college students revolting against the draft and saw no reason for our country to be fighting an army of Asian peasants in what they perceived to be a "civil war."
Today's peace marchers are a more diverse group and so far have refrained from violent confrontations with the police. And in my opinion, gathered from observing the signs they are carrying, plus the statements they make to reporters on the scene, and by reading their letters to the editor in big city newspapers, such as the Oregonian; they have a central theme which seems to be their source of motivation: Most of them hate President Bush. It is apparent by the signs they are displaying that these rallies are directed against Bush as to imply that he alone wants to start a war.
One sign reads "DISARM BUSH." Another says "U.S. NEEDS A REGIME CHANGE!" A writer to the Oregonian said "Terrorists fired the first volley on Sept. 11. Now they need only to sit and watch Bush dole fatal blows to our prosperity, freedom and democracy."
Even an antiwar rally in Russia a banner read: "IRAQ ISN'T YOUR RANCH MR. BUSH." and one in France said: "STOP BUSH! STOP WAR!"
There's no question that Bush's antagonists are mostly from the liberal left. Their animosity runs deep and predates the War on Terror. Why do they dislike him so much? That's easy to answer: 1) He's a conservative Republican. 2) He was in the oil business. You knows ... BIG OIL the enemy of the left. 3) He owns a big cattle ranch ... in Texas, of all places. That makes him a "cowboy" such as JR Ewing, the villain of "DALLAS." And 4) (perhaps the biggest reason), the liberals have never gotten over the multiple recount in Florida that sent "Alpha Male" Gore off to obscurity in the real world to fret and stew over the internal combustion engine and global warming.
What is hard for me to understand is how selective the left is in remembering the things that really matter. The impending war in Iraq is not a war that the Bush administration is initiating. It is a continuance of the War on Terror that came crashing down on us on Sept. 11, 2001. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't even have occurred if the last two or three presidents had come down harder on the terrorists overseas who were bombing our servicemen's quarters, embassies and ships. The terrorists interpret pacifism as a weakness which encourages their crusade against our entire culture.
How can the left keep nursing their grievance over the Florida election, and give a pass to all the evils committed by Saddam Hussein? He started an eight year long war with Iran that killed millions. He attacked Kuwait and when we evicted him with our military, he set fire to hundreds of oil wells which took the U.S. over a year to put out. He killed over 5,000 of his own people with poison gas and violated every single provision of the peace treaty he signed after being defeated. He even pays out big reward money to the parents of Palestinian children who suicide bomb innocent civilians in Israel.
As for the antiwar protesters out there on the streets of America, they are exercising their constitutional rights which the Founding Fathers gave them: "The right to peaceably assemble to air their grievances." But I sometimes wonder how many of them ever realize how many American lives have been sacrificed in defending their right to protest against our country's elected leaders.
We are often reminded that the veterans of WWII are dying at the rate of about 1,500 per day. That, of course, is inevitable as the Grim Reaper plays no favorites. Our nation will easily survive the loss of these old veterans, but I'm not so sure this country can long endure if we continue to ignore the lessons of WWII.
And that lesson is: Fanatical, power hungry dictators cannot be stopped by sanctions, appeasement or diplomacy. Hitler should have taught us that.