Jonah Goldberg

I want to rub it in the anti-war crowd's face so badly. I want to hear the protesters explain why it's a bad thing we released more than 100 children from an Iraqi gulag for underage political prisoners. I want them to talk about how they were fighting for the Iraqi people as the Iraqi people hug and kiss the American forces in Baghdad and greet the human shields with signs reading "Go Home You Wankers." I want them to explain why it wasn't worth it.

And they do have answers. The communist front group ANSWER is still organizing "Stop the War" rallies, which, practically speaking, is like trying to bail out the Titanic with a spoon 10 minutes before it goes under. They'll say stuff like it's still a war for oil, or that one tyranny is being replaced by another, or something else very silly. And that's fine -- if the anti-war movement really wants to attain permanent parody status.

During much of the lead-up to the war, I thought many people in the anti-war movement were silly and misguided. Once the war started and they kept playing their games, I thought they went from being wrong to being dangerous fools. Because once we were committed to war, the idea of stopping it without total victory was nuts.

Osama bin Laden attacked us precisely because he perceived Americans as weak in the wake of the first Gulf War, the first World Trade Center bombing, the so-called "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia, the Cole attack, etc. He concluded that we didn't have the intestinal fortitude to stand our ground.

If the peace-at-all-costs crowd had its way, we would have called off the fighting a week into the war, leaving Saddam Hussein in place -- making him a hero and putting a "kick me" sign on Uncle Sam's back.

But that debate is over. The war happened. Now, the protestors can move on or wallow in bitterness. The practical question is, what's next? The Bush administration says it wants what is best for the Iraqi people. The anti-war protestors say they want what is best for the Iraqi people. If the anti-war people are more serious than I generally give them credit for, they will stop whining about U.S. imperialism and start offering constructive support for making Iraq a democratic and prosperous country.

Instead of sending "human shields" to prop up a dictator who ordered the rapes of his enemies, they will send people to help with the reconstruction. Instead of whining about their lost civil liberties here at home whenever they get arrested for blocking traffic, they will offer support for the creation of real civil liberties in Iraq, where until very recently the meekest whisper against Saddam would result in an amputated tongue.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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