Few things are easier than protesting war. OK, objecting to puppy mutilation is easier, but you get my drift. Nobody loves a war. Yet sometimes, as President Bush seems to understand (one notes gratefully), we are obliged to participate.
Rightly, justly and appropriately, we have accepted the ugly invitation to war delivered to our doorstep on Sept. 11. Our enemies have declared themselves; the necessity of our response is clear.
Yet just six months after terrorists invaded our country and killed thousands of innocents, the war protests have begun.
- A new bilingual (English/Spanish) newspaper, "War Times," has hit the streets of northern California - where else? The paper claims to be putting "a human face" on war, as though people who understand the dire necessity of war, even as they abhor it, enjoy some other version.
- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was not campaigning for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination during his third party fund-raiser in New Hampshire since 2000, blasted Bush's war policy as a "false cloak of patriotism."
- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle criticized Bush's plans to expand the war on terrorism "without at least a clear direction to date."
- Europe, meanwhile, is scrambling for smelling salts in response to America's butched-up act, doing that unilateral thingy with the "axis of ick."
Now, if someone had asked my high school teachers to name the most attentive student in class, my name would not have sprung immediately to mind. So it comes as some surprise that I have been paying attention where others have not. Frankly, things have not been clearer since Gary Condit said, "We were just good friends."
As I read Bush's lips, he said:
"Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them." That statement, from a Sept. 15 radio address to the nation, is pretty clear, both to Americans and to those who harbor and support terrorists. And we know who they are.
Forget the "axis of evil," if that makes you squeamish. Evil, by the way, doesn't mean horned and cloven-footed; it means "morally reprehensible." Ta-dum, the Defense Department rests. Instead, when we talk about Iran, Iraq and North Korea, let's be more specific: repressive, murdering, torturing, totalitarian, Stalinist regimes. There. Feel better?
What we know further is that even if we would prefer "to dialogue" over a nice bottle of merlot and bruschetta, these governments would prefer to get their hands on some weapons of mass destruction and hurl them our way. I'd rather we not let them.
"Waiting on events," as Bush inimitably put it, is not in our best interest, as 9-11 should have proved unequivocally. Our enemies will try to strike again - they've done everything but order announcements - and we have every right to try to stop them. Under international law, it's called "anticipatory self-defense," and rarely has such action been more morally justified.
I understand the war-begets-more-war argument. I even entertain a favorite fantasy, which comes to mind every time I dine in a Vietnamese restaurant or quaff a German ale. Once we were enemies; now we can't get out of bed long enough to change the sheets. Couldn't we just skip the war and fast-forward to our inevitable future friendship?
Like I said, a fantasy. Would that such were possible. But in this time, in this war, turning the other cheek will get us exactly where
they want us. In the grave.
One can forgive the clueless who protest this war, albeit secure in the knowledge that someone else will take their bullet. But not so the Daschles, Kerrys and others, who know better and yet play the protest card for political gain in defiance of horrifying reality.
That reality, clearly defined and repeatedly verified, is that certain peoples and nations are preparing to attack the United States and/or our allies, unless they are stopped. War - and in our case, self-defense - is a dirty, nasty, repellant job, but somebody has to have the guts to wage it. Lucky for the protesters that others do.