Originally Published: March 27, 2003 6:10 p.m.
If the allies continue to reach every objective in the war with Iraq, what will the naysayers say?
Our objectives are clear, and so far, we largely have met them, to wit:
• We have had relatively few coalition and civilian casualties.
• We have not had an "environmental disaster" with the mass torching of oil wells.
• So far, the Iraqis have not used biological weapons, either because they have heard American threats of severe consequences or coalition forces have pre-emptively taken them out.
• No Scud missiles have hit Israel.
The gloom-and-doom prophets of disaster — from Jimmy Carter, to Walter Cronkite, to the editorial pages of The New York Times — ought to acknowledge they were wrong. But they won't.
They were wrong about "peace through strength" that led to the demise of the Soviet Union, but they won't admit it. Liberal educators and liberal clergy have spent gobs of money on full-page newspaper ads that claim disaster will befall America for undertaking this noble venture to free an oppressed people and to make our own country safer and better able to defend itself against the "axis of evil."
One possible answer to the "what next?" question came up last on March 24 during a discussion on ABC between anchor Peter Jennings, whose network has been the most negative — even cynical — about the Bush administration's Iraqi policy, and former White House adviser to three presidents, David Gergen. After lamenting (whatever happened to just reporting the facts?) that the administration has a "tendency" to "pretend" anti-war protests are not happening (and Gergen agreed — one doesn't get on ABC if one disagrees with "Peter"), Jennings left unchallenged Gergen's assertion that since "Iraq is putting up so little resistance" (why must we lament that since it means fewer casualties?) the United States will appear "to have been a bully."
Because their prophesied disaster has not occurred in the first days of the war — which would have given the United States, in the mind of its detractors, a deserved black eye — the fallback position of the naysayers is that in victory America will now be considered a bully.
The British use "bully" to label someone "first rate" or "a fine chap," but in Gergen's context it means "to treat abusively, to use browbeating behavior; one habitually cruel." Can any fair-minded person say we are behaving in a "habitually cruel" manner in Iraq? Have not the coalition forces gone out of their way to strike only military targets (as opposed to the habitually cruel homicide bombers in Israel who go after innocent civilians and Saddam Hussein who is an equal-opportunity murderer?). Have we not declared our intention to install a democratic government in Iraq, run by Iraqis and not the United States, as soon as it is feasible?
What the naysayers fear the most is victory. America's position in the world embarrasses them, although we are the world's best protector and promoter of freedom. Why are they reluctant to respond to such a noble calling?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote: "Experience informs us that the first defense of weak minds is to recriminate." Somerset Maugham noted the second defense when he said, "Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind" ("Of Human Bondage"). The weak are too weak to acknowledge their weakness and admit they are wrong, much less change their minds.
"Courage is the price life exacts for granting peace," said aviatrix Amelia Earhart. The weak must comfort themselves and each other in their weakness, lest they have to convert and confront their error.
When the victory parade comes, look for the coalition of the weak to object conscientiously and to recriminate America for its "role" in the world as the lone super power and the "responsibilities" we have not to "lord it over others."
As usual, they will be wrong, unable to see that the dictators are the real "over-lords" and bullies. Under the Bush doctrine of pre-emption, we are now going to get them before they get us and give people in bondage a chance to exercise the same endowed right to freedom we enjoy.
If the naysayers want to lament this, let them. I say "bully" for us!
(E-mail Cal Thomas at www.calthomas.com.)
© 2003 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.