BELFAST, Northern Ireland - There was something comical about the "anti-war" protesters who gathered here for the abbreviated Bush-Blair summit meeting. They were opposing a war that is nearly over. They demonized the victors - who are fighting in a moral cause - and not the losers, who fight to preserve an immoral rule. These protesters' silence during the deposed (and possibly dead) Saddam Hussein's three decades of murder and mayhem makes them irrelevant.
In toting up the winners and losers of this war, the top loser after Saddam Hussein and his regime must be the political left. From Hollywood's Martin Sheen and Michael Moore to European "leaders," the United Nations and aging peaceniks and their illegitimate progeny, the left has suffered a stunning defeat. These losers were wrong from the beginning because their view of humanity and of good and evil is flawed. Evil must be opposed, sometimes by force. As freed Iraqis begin to testify to the horror and degradation imposed on them by Saddam Hussein, the left will be hard pressed to explain why they were again on the wrong side of history. Their credibility is on a par with the Iraqi information minister who claimed that no coalition tanks had entered Baghdad at a time when the tanks could be seen and heard.
Other losers include the Chinese, Russian and French governments, each of which supplied more arms to Saddam Hussein than any other nation. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (cited in Michael Gove's April 8 column in the London Times), between 1973 and 2002 Russia provided 57 percent of Saddam's arms imports, France 13 percent and China 12 percent. The United States supplied just 1 percent at most and Britain less than that. War critics are wrong when they claim that the United States and Britain are primarily responsible for Saddam's weaponry. No wonder the French, Russians and Chinese opposed coalition efforts. They didn't want their complicity and duplicity discovered.
Some in the American and especially British media were losers because they regularly painted a doomsday scenario - from their predictions of a Vietnam-like quagmire to questioning the wisdom of every military move. ABC's Peter Jennings was especially guilty of extreme negativity about coalition policies and progress, but he was no worse than the entire BBC, which appeared to be in need of antidepressants, to say nothing of a shot of truth serum.
The notion that free nations can and should do nothing about oppressed people was a big loser. At a joint news conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush said "free nations have a responsibility to confront terrorism (and) promote human rights across the world." Call this the Jimmy Carter doctrine, but with muscle.
The winners in this conflict are many, starting with the people of Iraq, who have an opportunity (if they will seize it) not only to claim freedom for themselves but also their posterity and to serve as an example to the region, as they once did in ancient times.
President Bush endured the most personal invective to emerge triumphant. At the Hillsborough Castle news conference the president said, "There is a question in Europe about whether I mean what I say. Saddam Hussein now knows I mean what I say." So does the rest of the world.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, along with the commander of the coalition forces, Gen. Tommy Franks, are also winners. They ignored criticism that their plan was flawed, that there were not enough troops committed to the task and that casualty rates would be unacceptably high. None of this proved true.
All of the clergy, academics and commentators who predicted America would lose the war of public opinion and that this "adventure " would produce "a thousand Bin Ladens" are also wrong. Why should it not produce a thousand, or millions, of Winston Churchills and people who want freedom from religious and political dictators?
History has been on the side of freedom, the side President Bush is on. If he is able to expand these freedoms in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland, this president (so reviled by European eunuchs) will be the biggest winner of all.