The human shields, the Western kids who flocked to Iraq hoping to stare up at the business end of B-2 bombers, are coming home. Not just because a war seems imminent and they're scared, but because there's nothing good available to shield.
About half of the 200 shields have quit after realizing, as one kid told The Washington Times, "No humanitarian sites were made available to us." Even the Iraqi government isn't stupid or anti-American enough to think that the United States will deliberately target hospitals, mosques and schools. For that sort of poisonously out-of-touch view of American power, you must turn to left-wing Westerners.
Other shields are still stationed at electrical plants, water-pumping stations and oil refineries. Thus, the world gets the spectacle of the same people who complain about America's military-industrial complex trying to save parts of Iraq's.
The "idealism" of the human shields, which is a purely stilled anti-Americanism, takes them to the verge of treason -- if that isn't dignifying their juvenile grandstanding too much. It certainly makes them propaganda instruments of one of the world's most vicious and, in their own terms, anti-peace, anti-human-rights tyrannies.
"[The Iraqis] wanted to see more of the shields at strategic sites," one organizer recently complained. The shields are lucky that Iraq is hiding its weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise, they might be stationed at sites where they would come down with a case of anthrax or botulism before encountering an American daisy-cutter.
If the principle of the human shields boils down to the notion that America should never wage war, then they were shamefully AWOL when there were Taliban fuel trucks and weapons caches to be shielded. Even now, a plutonium re-processing facility in Yongbyon sits dangerously unprotected.
The operational theory of the shields never made much sense: that they could stop a war that would be heedlessly waged against civilians by presenting the U.S. military with the possibility that it might hit a few civilians. Top shield Ken O'Keefe, an American, addresses this paradox by arguing that only white civilians matter to the United States, so the shields can stop bombs even as Iraqi civilians are killed.
So O'Keefe (reachable either at Baghdad's Palestine International Hotel or at the Daura Electrical Plant) has been guilty of discriminatory recruiting: treasonous black left-wing zealots need not apply. If there were justice in the world, O'Keefe would have to return home and report directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
O'Keefe apparently hasn't gotten word that one of the worries of American planners is preventing Saddam himself from destroying the country's infrastructure, and unleashing weapons against Iraqi civilians. In fact, O'Keefe is one of only about 400 people in Iraq -- maybe the only one not related to Saddam -- who mourns the imminent passing of the regime. "It would be a frightening place for me," he has written, "with a puppet government put in by the U.S."
Thus is the reversal of values wrought by anti-Americanism complete: a totalitarian regime hostile to the United States is defended, while a prospective democratizing government supported by the United States is opposed. In the aftermath of 9-11, we all asked: Why do "they" hate us so? Well, "they" learned it partly from us, from the Western left that considers American power inherently corrupt.
While the human shields posture in Iraq, any Israeli who steps on a bus risks his life, becoming a shield for civilization against murderers funded by Saddam and other thugs. If the human shields took their purported ideals seriously -- defending civilians and human rights -- they would ride a Haifa bus all day, in a continuous loop.
Instead, they service Saddam. One should want as many of the naifs, morons and cowards now having second thoughts to come home as possible. But maybe the hard-core should just stay, defending the pillars of Saddam's power until the end, embracing the evil that their hatred of America makes them love.