The growing number of anti-war protests against the U.S. removing Saddam Hussein
by force are reminiscent of nothing so much as the Cold War's anti-nuclear
protesters, who felt the way to lasting peace was by disarming.
Just as peace activists today claim in assorted banners, placards, signs, speeches and interviews that Iraq is no threat to us, so their compatriots of yesteryear insisted the Soviet Union was only menacing because our side insisted on developing nuclear weapons.
Those who compare President George Bush to Hitler for wanting to get rid of Saddam, are the same sort who called Ronald Reagan a warmonger for saying the Soviet Union was an "evil empire." What is it about so-called "peaceniks" that so grate on one's nerves - especially those of us who've seen it all before? I think it's because, historically and presently, the peace activists are so wrong.
In my lifetime, as the son of a pre-World War II career soldier, I was brought up to think war with Germany was inevitable because in Britain pacifists (the "Oxford Group") influenced the government to disarm and seek peace at any price.
When the war against Hitler began, the Soviet Union and its Comintern propaganda machine condemned what it called "an imperialist war." It was a rallying cry picked up by Communist parties and fellow-travelers around the world - including young Pierre Trudeau in Montreal, who decried what he called the "imperialists' war." Ironically, when Hitler attacked Stalin in 1941, World War II became a "great patriotic war" in the Soviet Union.
During the Korean war, we had those in western countries insisting the Americans were using germ warfare against the Chinese, and that we had no business in Korea.
As a soldier on the front lines in Korea, I recall Chinese loudspeakers blaring at night: "Why do Canadians fight America's war?" - which sounded disquietingly similar to peace protesters at home asking why we were fighting America's war.
It's now apparent that had that war not been fought, South Korea today would be like North Korea - the world's most wretched country with the most oppressed people.
The "peace" activists were wrong. Again.
When Igor Gouzenko escaped from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa with documents that disclosed a massive spy ring in the West, "peace loving" professors at the U of T and elsewhere mocked his disclosures as lies and propaganda. Even Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King at first disbelieved that Stalin and communism were malignant cancers.
King eventually saw the light, which is more than the peace movement did when it continued through the next two decades proclaiming goodwill toward the Soviet Union and lasting peace if only we unilaterally abandoned nuclear weapons.
In the 1970s, when international terrorism took hold, the peacenik's cry was that the "root cause" of terror was poverty and developed countries (the U.S.) plundering the Third World.
Terrorists often affluent
Overlooked then, and overlooked now, is that terrorists are often middle class, educated and relatively affluent - not the downtrodden poor.
Most of the 9/11 suicide hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, whose wealthy rulers make the rich of the West seem like peons.
In the 1960s, the "peace" movement reviled America as the only country that had used nuclear weapons, immorally killing innocent civilians and razing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A Canadian nuclear physicist, Dr. Norman Alcock, formed the Canadian Peace Research Institute and warned any who would listen (the media, naturally) that the doomsday clock was two minutes to midnight and Armageddon awaited if our side didn't abandon nuclear weapons forthwith.
I remember arguing with him that nuclear deterrence had prevented World War III, which he compared to jumping off a skyscraper and saying as you passed the 50th floor "the trip's pretty good so far."
The anti-Vietnam war movement won a political victory because America chose to fight a war and not win it, which was the real immorality of Vietnam. If you aren't prepared to win - don't fight. Peaceniks were never troubled by how North Vietnam treated its enemies, only what South Vietnamese did.
Cambodia's Khmer Rouge didn't provoke peacenik protests.
American soldiers were viewed as warmongers - an argument as illogical as viewing the police as crime supporters and firefighters as arsonists.
When former president Reagan approved the development of the neutron bomb - which left buildings intact and affected people - the commie/peacenik cry went up that perfidious and materialistic Americans preferred to save buildings, but not people.
Reagan abandoned the neutron bomb, and instead adopted Star Wars - a totally defensive system that ended up bankrupting the Soviet Union, and won the Cold War for freedom. The peace movement was wrong again.
Reagan got no thanks for being the architect of world peace, even (especially?) when he urged in Berlin: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!" Significantly, neither the President of France nor the Chancellor of Germany ever urged that.
If the peace or anti-war movement had had its way, Germany would have won World War II; South Korea would be a mirror-image of the North; the Soviet Union would be the superpower instead of the U.S.; and instead of NATO protecting Europe, Warsaw Pact armies would dominate the continent.
Peace agitators who want Iraq protected should heed Iraqis who've escaped. Last Sunday, 60 Minutes interviewed Dr. Hussein Shahristani, once Iraq's top nuclear scientist, who escaped after being tortured and imprisoned for 11 years in solitary confinement for refusing to build a nuclear weapon for Saddam.
He escaped during a Gulf war air raid, and has been relentless in advocating freedom for the Iraqi people.
His bravery defies comprehension, and he recalls that the hardest part of his imprisonment was hearing the screams of children being tortured until their fathers confessed.
The butcher hooks of Abu Ghraib prison again impale Saddam's victims, about whom "human shield" western peaceniks in Baghdad care not a whit.
Anti-war activists ignored the millions condemned to Soviet and Chinese gulags, just as today they ignore victims of Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong-il.
They were wrong then, they are wrong now.