The ironic impact of the anti-war movement
Virtually everyone in the Judeo-Christian world would like to live free of the fear of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the hands of madmen, but some, notably the Hollywood Left, do not think that kind of security is worth fighting for. Witness the recent protests against the possibility of a war against Saddam Hussein to enforce the desire of the United Nations for humankind to live without fear of weapons of mass destruction.
But the seemingly contradictory behavior of today’s war protesters is not without precedent. For example, Judeo-Christians want to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die. Everyone wants quality health care, but no one wants to pay for it. The Muslims claim Islam is about living in peace, but their radical adherents can’t wait to die in war.
In fact, every war in which the United States has fought was begun and even waged within a storm of protest. Our Colonial “Tories” opposed the war to free us from British rule. The “Copperheads” opposed the Civil War. Not one Federalist member of Congress voted for the War of 1812. Henry David Thoreau and the Whigs opposed the Mexican War of 1846.
Only the so-called “popular” wars in which we have been viciously attacked without warning have met with little opposition. America responded vigorously to the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. Were it not for the Japanese sneak attack on our fleet in Pearl Harbor, the peace movement against World War II, led by England’s infamous Cliveden Set and the “America First” movement, would have kept us out of World War II until it was too late.
Our response to the vicious invasion of South Korea by North Korea in 1950 was popular for awhile. But, as the war dragged on, the nation turned to Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower to end it. Even the Vietnam War to preserve the independence of South Vietnam enjoyed a measure of popularity until President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara failed to win it in a timely manner.
While some Americans are simply idealists who oppose war on principle, some just don’t want to be inconvenienced by military service. Others pee in their pants at the thought of being shot at in anger.
But when our cause is just or our national survival is clearly at stake, Americans rally to the Flag in droves. World War II is the prime example of that. And, so should it be with Gulf War II.
More Americans died in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon and in that lonely field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, than we lost at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Moreover, instead of Hitler practicing genocide on the Jews in Europe and the Japanese exterminating millions of people in Asia and Indo-China, we are now faced with the adherents of the world’s second largest religion vowing to use weapons of mass destruction to exterminate, not just the Jews, but the Judeo-Christian world as we know it.
One would think this clear and present danger would still any protest, but it does not. What stills protest is a quick victory. Thousands protested the start of the Gulf War in 1991. Congress just barely authorized the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait.
Fortunately, our allies and we won that war in 100 hours and the protest fizzled. Our troops came home in triumph. Even the forgotten veterans of Vietnam were given the embrace they so well deserved but never received.
Following the brief Taliban War, we are ten times stronger than in 1991 and Saddam, with exception of his weapons of mass destruction, is weaker. So, the way for the Bush Administration to quiet the anti-Gulf War II protesters is to attack Iraq sooner rather than later and win a quick victory. Ironically, the protest movement will probably serve to hasten rather than prevent Gulf War II.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack on Colorado’s high country.
©2003. William Hamilton