If "war is not the answer," then what is?

Larry Elder

12/7/2006 12:00:00 AM - Larry Elder

"War is not the answer."

So said the bumper sticker on the car I parked behind. Early for my haircut, I decided to sit a bit and ponder the gravity of that message. "War is not the answer" -- to what? To non-war? To, say, the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor? To Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939? To the simultaneous multi-Arab nation attack on the newly United-Nations-chartered State of Israel in 1948?

The bumper-sticker driver, undoubtedly, knows of a "peaceful" or "diplomatic" response to all of history's wars. Since he or she completely rejects the notion of a "just war," I decided to wait a bit in hopes that the driver might return to enlighten me.

What to do, for example, with the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who directly threatens the United States? He said, "God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism." Only recently, he elaborated. In talks in Qatar with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Ahmadinejad said, "[T]he Zionist regime was created to establish dominion of arrogant states over the region and to enable the enemy to penetrate the heart Muslim land." Haniyeh said Israel was "on the verge of disappearing." "There is no doubt the Palestinian nation and Muslims as a whole will emerge victorious," the Iranian president told Haniyeh.

Since "war is not the answer," how would Mr./Ms. Bumper Sticker respond? Ignore it? Apparently, Ahmadinejad does not mean it. Take action first? Of course not, since, if "war is not the answer," then presumably "preemptive war" is not either.

What about our military's recent report of "smoking gun" evidence of Iran's direct shipment of munitions to "insurgents" in Iraq? After free elections in Iraq where nearly 80 percent of eligible Iraqis voted, after the establishment of a constitution, after the establishment of a multi-ethnic government, the Holocaust-denying country of Iran sends money, munitions and intel to destroy Iraq's fledgling government. Advice, please.

Israel, the country Iran seeks to "wipe out from the map of the world," pulled completely out of the Gaza Strip. In return, the Palestinians sent rockets into Israel and kidnapped a soldier. Meanwhile, in southern Lebanon, under the noses of the United Nations "peacekeepers," terror group Hezbollah, financed by Iran, built a stockpile of thousands of rockets, a substantial portion of which ended up cascading down on Israeli towns and villages during the Hezbollah/Lebanon/Syria/Iran war against Israel. What, then, is "the answer"?

What of World War II -- a catastrophic conflict resulting in over 50 million military and civilian deaths? Winston Churchill wrote that if France and Britain had taken early action to stop Hitler, the entire war might have been averted. But, again, "preemptive war" is still war, is it not?

Iran claims it pursues uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. Yet the International Atomic Energy Agency cannot corroborate those claims. Meanwhile, members of the United Nations, like Russia, sell nuclear technology to Iran. China negotiates deals with Iran to ensure a continuous supply of oil. If "war is not the answer," what about selling nuclear technology when the buyer says that a fellow United Nations state should be wiped out? What's the answer to one of Ahmadinejad's predecessors, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who said, "[T]he use of an atomic bomb against Israel would totally destroy Israel, while [the same] against the Islamic world would only cause damage. Such a scenario is not inconceivable."

But that's just Israel. What about Europe and America?

Osama bin Laden's 1998 fatwa urged Muslims to target American civilians as "a religious duty." Michael Scheuer, who created and ran the CIA's bin Laden unit, says that in 2003 bin Laden got a Saudi sheik to issue a fatwa authorizing the use of nuclear weapons against Americans, to retaliate for Muslims killed in the "holy war." Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, for his book "Al-Zarqawi: Al-Qaeda's Second Generation," interviewed several of bin Laden's top lieutenants, including the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Hussein outlines al-Qaeda's strategy of seven phases -- the first one beginning as an "awakening" for Muslims worldwide following the September 11 attacks. The plan culminates with the "definitive victory" of "one-and-a-half billion Muslims" and the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate by 2020.

The Baker-Hamilton Commission wants "dialogue" with Syria and Iran. But the United Nations implicated Syria in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. More recently, assassins shot to death Pierre Gemayel, the high-ranking Lebanese industry minister, and another critic of Syria.

Oops, I was now late for my appointment. So the "answer" to war must await my haircut and mustache trim.