getting serious questions for the peaceniks.

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    Getting Serious

    Questions for the peaceniks.

    By Pete du Pont
    The Wall Street Journal
    March 14, 2003

    Protests against war in Iraq have been raging all across America and England as well as Continental Europe. Passionate peace protests are nothing new; we saw them in 1933 when the British Oxford Union declared it would "in no circumstances fight for its King and country," against the Vietnam War in the 1970s, and in 1983 against NATO's proposal to install Pershing missiles to defend Western Europe against Soviet Russia.

    So the signs, slogans and emotions are familiar. And so are the questions we ought to be asking the peace protesters.

    Peace is important, but is peace without freedom acceptable?

    The Soviet Union was at peace between the two world wars and from 1945 until its collapse in 1989, and in those times managed to shoot, starve or kill in the gulag more than 20 million of its own people. In Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, China killed and starved many millions more. Pol Pot in a Cambodia at peace killed two million Cambodians. Zimbabwe is at peace, but dictator Robert Mugabe is starving his subjects. North Korea is at peace, and enslaving and starving its people. Iraq is, likewise, oppressing its people.

    To quote columnist Andrew Sullivan, "War is an awful thing. But it isn't the most awful thing." Enslaved peoples and peace without freedom are worse.

    If you believe peace is paramount, which of the following wars would you not have fought:

    € The Gulf War of 1991, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi invasion and terrorism?
    € World War II against Nazi Germany?
    € The American Revolutionary War?
    € The Civil War?
    € The Korean War?
    € The war that freed Afghanistan from the Taliban?

    And if at the height of the Berlin blockade in 1948 the Soviet army had attacked West Germany, Belgium and France, would you have opposed an American military response?

    Why will appeasement succeed with Saddam Hussein when it has failed with so many other dictators?

    In the 1930s, European powers pursued collective security through the League of Nations, which they thought preferable to war. But when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, the league did nothing. In 1938 Britain and France appeased Hitler by giving him most of Czechoslovakia, and Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich proclaiming to cheering crowds that Britain had achieved "peace for our time." Hitler had built a massive army and air force, but British policy was pacifist; the government assured its citizens that Hitler was a reasonable fellow and had given his word in Munich, so he wouldn't use his newly constructed, powerful military. The League of Nations failed, appeasement failed, and World War II followed.

    Collective security through the United Nations failed in Bosnia in the 1990s. For three years the U.N. sent food and passed resolution after resolution while the Serbs killed thousands of Bosnian Muslims. No air strikes were allowed against the Serbs since that would mean the U.N. "might be taking sides." Gen. Ratko Mladic then took 350 U.N. peacekeepers hostage and chained some to military targets to prevent attacks. NATO and the Clinton administration finally authorized air strikes in 1995, and the Bosnian terror ended in a few months. Appeasement failed while American-led military action succeeded. It ended ethic cleansing and freed people from systematic oppression and murder.

    Appeasement is failing in Iraq too, where Saddam Hussein has defied 17 U.N. resolutions over 12 years. Iraq is remains in material breach of Resolution 1441, and its dictatorial leader has not been disarmed.

    May the United States take action to prevent attacks--before they occur--on its territory or people?

    Two months before Pearl Harbor FDR ordered the Navy to aggressively patrol the North Atlantic to defend against German submarines. He said: "Do not let us split hairs. Let us not say, 'We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and passengers are drowned.' This is the time for prevention of attack." He was right; prevention of attacks is a sound idea.

    If not America, who? If not now, when?

    The UN has not disarmed Saddam. Will France? Belgium? Saudi Arabia? Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Saddam possesses VX nerve agent and probably large quantities of smallpox and anthrax as well as the capability of making much more. He also has the missiles to use them against other nations. There is no question that Saddam would use these weapons. (Why else would he be holding onto them at risk of being removed from power by the United States?). He has used some of them before, in Iran and against other Iraqis. Saddam's leading enemy--the big target--is the United States of America. He won't attack France; he'll attack us. So the risk is ours, and the responsibility is ours.

    The objectives of America's security policy are first, to protect America and Americans; second, to prevent terrorist attacks against other democratic nations. Ending state sponsorship of terrorism--by Iraq, Iran, Syria or North Korea--goes a long way to meeting the first and second objectives. America's security objectives also call for changing the failed political culture of the Arab region.

    People in these nations hate America because they envy us. Their societies have failed while democratic capitalism has succeeded. Such societies have failed in the Middle East because of a restrictive religion, the lack of education, the subjugation of their population (especially women), socialist economies and government control over of information. In their rage, subjugated people strike back at Americans and Jews, who have done much better than they have. Have we not the right to protect ourselves against such attacks--and also to address the tyranny that is their root cause?

    Finally, Abraham Lincoln said there was no middle ground between freedom and slavery.

    Can there be a middle ground between freedom and terrorism?

    Mr. du Pont, a former governor of Delaware, is policy chairman of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis . His column appears once a month.

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