Picking a fight with pacifism

Burt Prelutsky
|
Posted: Apr 23, 2007 12:00 AM
Picking a fight with pacifism

The main problem with pacifism is that it doesn’t work in all situations. The main problem with pacifists is that they’re convinced it does.

Gandhi persevered for years and ultimately gained independence for India, but that was because, for all its faults, England was basically a civilized, Christian nation. It was possible to arouse the sympathy and good will of the British people. Had he tried it with Nazi Germany, he would have died in an oven.

There’s no getting around the fact that being a pacifist has a nicer ring to it than being, say, a warmonger. But when I hear people such as Alan Colmes say, as he did recently, that we rushed to war in Iraq and didn’t give negotiations a chance to work, I wonder what planet he and Mrs. Colmes call home. After all, for a dozen years, Saddam Hussein had violated his 1991 ceasefire agreement, and he cynically used the profits from his oil-for-food program to bribe Russia, Germany and France, into complicity. During that period, the U.N., the last great hope of the feeble-minded, passed 17 resolutions against Iraq. I guess the member nations figured they’d shame Hussein into compliance. They couldn’t even get him to allow the inspectors to search his palaces, leading one and all to believe he had WMD stashed in his wine cellars.

But in spite of British and American intelligence, and the leading lights in both political parties, agreeing that the Butcher of Baghdad had to be taken out, the pacifists disagreed. To them, anything beyond the equivalent of giving Hussein a good talking-to and a time-out, as if he were a three-year-old who’d been acting up, was unthinkable.

It’s hard to get a grip on the way their minds work. Do pacifists simply choose to believe that evil doesn’t exist? Do they actually believe that Hitler and Stalin, Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden, Idi Amin and Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Mao Tse-tung, are or were good guys who were simply misunderstood? The question is whether pacifists are hopelessly naïve or simply cowards.

Recently, I received an e-mail from a reader who wanted me to know that we had no business fighting Germany in World War II. It wasn’t that he was pro-Nazi, but that he felt it was Europe’s war and we had no business being involved. Apparently, the notion of several hundred million people being under the boot of a madman and his gang of goose-stepping degenerates didn’t faze him in the slightest.

I can only assume that if he was your next-door neighbor and he saw your wife being attacked or your house being burgled, he wouldn’t bother calling a cop. After all, it’s not his wife, not his house.

I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that I love war. Heck, I don’t even like war movies. But I acknowledge that there are times when war is the only honorable, only reasonable option. To believe otherwise doesn’t make you wise or good; it only makes you a toad or a weasel.

Winston Churchill, who knew more about war than most men, gave strong voice to the British people at a time they were under Nazi siege, when he said, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’”

And what would Dennis Kucinich say to bolster American spirits if we found ourselves in similar straits? Remember, folks, to keep your talcum powder dry?