Mona Charen

War Never Solves Anything.

So say dozens of callers to C-SPAN and left-leaning radio programs (yes, there are some). The answer to this argument, if you can call it an argument, could almost fit on a bumper sticker: Apart from securing American independence, ending slavery, and defeating Nazism and communism, war has never solved anything.

There is a severe imbalance between the strength of antiwar arguments and the vehemence with which they are advanced. Liberals think of themselves as humanitarians, so it requires a peculiar form of dogmatism to oppose war against a man who is responsible for at least 1.2 million deaths (a conservative estimate), has turned Baghdad into a terror haven, has attacked three neighbors, has proclaimed his implacable hostility toward the United States, has built enough chemical and biological weapons to wipe out nearly everyone on the continent of Asia, has pursued nuclear weapons and has truculently defied countless United Nations resolutions.

For liberals, the war against Iraq offends cherished fantasies -- such as the idea that the United Nations represents a disinterested distillate of world humanitarianism, rather than a cushy diplomatic posting for nations pursuing naked self-interest. But even if the U.N. were everything liberals wish it were, wouldn't justice be advanced by punishing defiance of the U.N. resolutions?

Still, the U.N. is not a world court, dispensing justice impartially. China invaded and subjugated Tibet and Russia has committed atrocities in Chechnya, without putting undue strain on the consciences of U.N. member nations. Nor is it anything remotely resembling a world democracy. Five nations on the Security Council have veto power. So even if three dozen nations support the United States and Britain in wishing to overthrow the menace in Baghdad (as they do), France, Russia or China can prevent the United Nations from acting with the flick of a pen -- and for the most cynical of reasons.

Antiwar activists tell us that Iraq is a distraction from the more important war against global terrorism. This argument has been dealt a serious blow by the capture of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed. But let's also recall that many opposed taking action against Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, citing some of the same objections as are heard today: fear of Afghan civilian casualties, pessimism about the possibility of a "clean" victory and aversion to war on moral grounds. One could hardly argue that Afghanistan was not central to the war on terror.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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