They always blame America first

Posted: Feb 18, 2003 12:00 AM
Saddam Hussein's new best friends, several million in number, paraded around the world Saturday, various of them provoking questions about security arrangements at nearby places of confinement for the mentally challenged. ("I look at Bush but see Hitler," read one banner in Sofia, Bulgaria.) Some, it was clear, came out of sincere if misguided attachment to the principle that once you have given peace a chance, you have to give it another chance, then another and another, and so on. A larger number of demonstrators reminded us how widespread and ingrained is a certain species of human malignancy. The malignancy is that which the French journalist Jean Francois Revel, in a notable book of the 1970s, branded "the totalitarian temptation." A considerable portion of the human race hates, or distrusts, democracy and its economic expressions, chiefly capitalism. Under democracy and capitalism, people make voting and buying decisions that their betters (self-styled) have not approved in advance. It is to shudder! The malignancy goes deeper: Pit a dictator against a democrat. The totalitarian temptees may well give the dictator the benefit of the doubt. As with Iraq. On the topic of Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction, the liar, so far as the temptees are concerned, is not Saddam Hussein. The liar is Colin Powell, secretary of state for the United States. He's just saying Saddam has those weapons. He no more knows than a jackrabbit. Nor does that other liar, the president of the United States. You can look into Saddam's liquid brown eyes and understand the plight of the unjustly accused. Contrast him with those miserable, lying, imperialistic Americans, who want oil to quench the monster thirst of their SUVs. Our former U.N. ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, knew well the temptees' type. "They always blame America first," she said of their cadre within the Democratic Party. They still do, including numerous 1960s retreads, eyes bright with the recollection of having put the USA in its warmongering place 30 years ago. Their quest for peace normally entails doing it the way the Americans don't want it. An irony looks us hard in the face. Bush has for months been doing it their way, through the convoluted processes of the United Nations, with its resolutions and its inspection teams. He has been giving peace every possible chance. Peace has given him, so far, the horselaugh. The more so-called "peace" we try, the firmer must grow Saddam's resolution to drag his feet and hide his weapons, knowing that, once the furor dies down, he can quietly go back to his old ways. It is like the Western movies many of us used to catch at the Palace Theater on Saturdays. The Indians are swarming over the stockade fence! We're done for! But wait, what's that sound? A bugle blowing "Charge." The cavalry! We're saved! The war protesters, here and abroad, are Saddam's unwitting -- occasionally witless -- cavalry. The administration, to them, equates to the Indians. Or would if that weren't to insult the Indians. It is the nuttiest thing in the world. Few protesters profess to admire Saddam's methods of governance; yet no constructively peaceful ideas are heard for defanging him. Give the inspectors more time, is all we hear. What are the assurances that more time would work? The inspectors have been at this job for a decade. In 1998, Saddam threw them out. The world did nothing. Doubtless that meant really giving peace a chance. And what if the inspectors discover the "smoking gun"? What then? Another Security Council resolution for Saddam to flout, according to well-worn precedent? The protesters' lack of an alternative to an American-led assault on Iraq is one thing that makes them negligible. The other, odd as it may seem, is their numbers. If we calculate the world's population at 6 billion, we might say that whereas 5 million to 10 million marched and jeered on Saturday, maybe 5 billion, 990 million showed sounder judgment. Congratulations, widely distributed, are in order.