“I felt liberated when I saw the bombs falling”

First, I’d like to reiterate the main gist of Why the people’s instinct can be wrong and emphasise once again that my observations had nothing to do with whether you believe the imminent war is right or wrong. They’re just a description of the way it is.

“The people” have not come to terms with the fact that Iraqis can desire liberation; that Iraqis face this horrific dilemma; and that Iraqis can choose war, on the side of the Americans, in full knowledge of the consequences…

The committed leftist and the committed pacifist reel away from the human desires expressed [by Iraqis desiring liberty], because here is an implicit blessing for war. But this is what the Iraqi wants – because he knows that alone, the opposition groups are no match for the totalitarian regime…

The antiwar protesters – ten million around the world – ought to have apologised to Iraqis and offered their condolences that this time they cannot support liberty in Iraq; that they have chosen to block action that would free Iraqis. Then they should have been ashamed of themselves…

In this period, two devastating bushfires have swept across the Australian societal landscape, each in turn reinforcing the great Australian inability to imagine in any depth the lot of a stranger, each dividing the world into us and outsiders, whereby what in each case is accepted as “us and ours” is elevated to a special status through heightened familiarity, to the exclusion of the other.

The outsiders are thought of in myth-like ways, images of them are somewhat unreal, because the image of “the other” is a projection of what is necessary for “us” to uphold “our” image of “ourselves”: it has no basis in reality, and its effect is ultimately to falsify and oppress human beings.

In the Tampa and SIEV-X cases, this was called “racism”. It is no different now with the anti-war protests.

I’m saying that when they claim it is unintentional, they’re not being completely honest: true, they’re not directly intending this consequence, but a destructive intention certainly exists…

Worse, that human being’s viewpoint – who is supposed to be our kindred spirit, is he not? – is obliterated in the minds of “the people”; for example, by promoting myths such as he or she hates the Americans so much that he or she will fight for Saddam Hussein and not against him. “The people” naturally believe that Iraqis will willingly fight to save Saddam’s totalitarianism – if they had it in their mind that Iraqis want to fight with the Americans against Saddam, then they would be confronted with the unsavoury truth that their antiwar protest is denying individual liberty.

They would be confronted with the logical consequence of their negative choice: they are the ones responsible for keeping Saddam in power, for the murder of countless Iraqis by his henchmen in the years until the fall of his regime. Whether you agree with the war or not, this is the consequence of the success of the protests’ aims. From being obliterated in the minds of “the people”, the viewpoint of the Iraqi desiring liberty is obliterated in reality…

“The people” project their own anti-American obsession (in which Saddam Hussein barely exists) onto their image of Iraqis and thereby obliterate the point of view of the Iraqi who seeks liberty. In effect, they have murdered him in their minds.

Also, in The disempowerment of faith, Iraq, fragmentation, and the failed WTO protests, I wrote:

In addition, though, I’m saying that if we are horrified at the blood on our hands that might be spilt if we act, then we should also be horrified by the blood that might be on our hands if we choose not to act.

In addition, in Alternatives to warNicholas Crouch wrote:

If America invades and occupies Iraq there will be civilian casualties. It is difficult to estimate, but certainly they would be in the thousands. Margo, you and those like you don’t want thousands of innocent people to die. I understand that. It sounds reasonable. But how many innocent Iraqi civilians will die if there is NO war? How many more people will Saddam kill? Given his past history surely you must say thousands.

Now to a few replies to my critics in Our conscience is not sabotaged.


Simon Ellis sees pro-war bias in my piece. But as I emphasised above, the view I expressed can be held by people who are for or against the war. It’s a matter of honesty with yourself, and of seeing the reality, not the phantoms inside your head. Simon is seeing phantoms.

Simon writes: John … is now trumpeting the same contradiction in terms that our political masters seem so fond of – that it is the peace marchers, not the war-mongers, who are plunging this world into conflict.

This is all in your imagination, Simon. I did not make the argument that peace marchers are making war more likely. I did not even say that you are increasing the amount of conflict. Why do you take criticism of the peace marchers as pro-war propaganda?

I said that if you were to succeed in your cause then you would have helped keep the status quo in Iraq. If you disagree with this, explain why Saddam is going to stop his war against the Iraqi people if the Americans forget their war plans and retreat. Explain why Saddam and his henchmen are going to pack up their bags and go away and leave the Iraqi people alone.

So John, allow me to clarify a couple of points for your benefit:

1.The anti-war movement doesn’t support Saddam Hussein – period.

But if you succeed in your cause, then you will be helping keep the status quo in Iraq. This may not be your intention, but it is the effect. Doesn’t it bother you that your actions would lead to this if they’re successful?

If you go into town to see Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist”, park your car on a hillside, and the car rolls down while you’re in the cinema and kills someone, are you going to say, “I don’t give a stuff”?

Why would we protest against Saddam Hussein?

Why indeed. Perhaps because those were “peace” marches, and Saddam Hussein is waging a war against his own people. Also, because you ought to explicitly dissociate yourself from attempts to exploit your political actions in ways you didn’t intend. If you care about your message, you ought to prevent the possibility in advance to the best of your ability (eg Saddam using your presence as propaganda).

But most importantly, it’s to show solidarity with the Iraqi victims of Saddam’s regime, the ones you claim to be caring for – at least, the “thousands of Iraqis” that would be killed in a war, and would have to live under Saddam’s regime for years longer if you succeed.

If what you say is true – that you care for the Iraqis at all, and not just for yourself – then you’d be thinking of them during your protest and sending out “messages” that would make it impossible for Iraqis like Adnan Hassan (who I quoted) to feel the way they did watching you.

But no. Those Iraqis seeking liberty have become an abstraction – you’re preoccupied with your own concerns, in your self-centred world, despite what you say about caring for them. This is my point. The worst thing is you don’t realise your hypocrisy.

We live in Australia for crying out loud – we protest against things that we’re doing – not stuff that other people are doing!!

So if, say, the U.S. were to invade Iraq, you wouldn’t protest? Great! I expect the sounds of silence from the “peace” movement in the next month. A true peace (and quiet) movement.

Or France? Aha, I see. That’s why you never protested when Saddam gassed the Kurds, and why the world can go to hell as long as your little corner is peaceful and quiet.

But you did protest when NATO bombed Kosovo and Serbia and freed the Muslim Kosovans. So too when NATO bombed Milosevic and saved countless thousands Muslim Bosnians from his concentration camps (after the UN failure in preventing them).

Incidentally, by aiding and abetting the continuation of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq you’re doing something.

You seem to believe that by not supporting your war the anti-war movement is condemning the people of Iraq to a lifetime of brutality and oppression – as if there are absolutely no other options available. Doesn’t your very argument depend on this premise? That war is the ONLY solution to the problems faced by the people of Iraq?

“My” war? Phantoms – my piece was neither for nor against the war. Also, that war is the ONLY way of liberating Iraq is what the Iraqis themselves think. Why didn’t you bother finding out what the Iraqis think, before claiming you’re doing them a favour? You’re not even aware of your neocolonialist chauvinism, let alone what goes on outside the borders of your country.

Finally, “lifetime” is a relative concept. Ten years can be a lifetime for thousands of Iraqis in Saddam’s war against the Iraqi people.

Well I’ve gotta tell you John – you don’t understand me better than I understand myself.

I only know what you reveal. Your anti-intellectual chauvinism is probably what’s blocking you from thinking seriously about what you’re doing. The stuff I’ve been arguing is completely obvious – anyone at all can figure it out. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. Just be aware of what you’re doing.

Unwind the spin that you’ve built around yourself – and open your eyes to the truth. You doggedly support a cause that would needlessly cause the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

Now here’s a prescription for you. Learn to separate fantasy from reality: Begin by understanding that no cause is supported in my previous piece. And try to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions; for instance, that your antiwar action would “cause the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children”.


Peter Funnell writes:

I march against the war in Iraq, because I don’t want any Australia citizen to go to war … My first thought was not for the Iraqis. I did it for the citizens of the country in which I choose to live, the place of my “dreamtime”. For what it will do to those I love and care about… Not wanting Australians to go to war and not killing Iraqis is the best I can do.

Me, myself and mine. At last, an honest man. “Love the furtherest” – Nietzsche. “Love myself, strike a humanitarian pose, pretend to love the other” – Australia, 2003. Well, almost.

By demonstrating that I do not support a war, I point at the only way possible – for the Iraqis to do it for themselves.

But the Iraqis have said repeatedly (and as was shown in Saddam’s crushing the uprisings following the Gulf War), they cannot do it themselves. They want war. They want the Americans to bomb Iraq.

Peter evidently believes in a world where the dice is loaded for the strong. Physical strength is everything, if you’re not strong enough to survive by yourself, to hell with you. Leave the strong be, and condemn the weak to their fate.

A very Mahatir view. A recipe for despotism – and subservience to dictators. As Orwell said, violence is acceptable as long as it’s horrific enough.

What’s more, Peter’s another guy who hasn’t bothered finding out what the Iraqis think before involving himself in actions that would influence their fate. Proves my point.


Paul Walter writes:

No, John, we won’t accept the US blowing the Iraqi people back to the stone age, and then finding ways for the rest of us to pay, yet again, for THEIR mistakes!

Well, that’s nice to know, Paul. But you’re hallucinating. My article is neither pro-war nor anti-war. My article argues for taking responsibility for our actions. Also, that we should understand the view point of the Iraqi who wants liberation before presuming to decide what’s best for him or her.

full calumny… Republican power-grab… Republicans have apparently robbed the global economy… corrupt fund-managers, media magnates, organised crime figures and armaments manufacturers… massive diversions of investment funds … blindness, greed and arrogance… The West, and the US in particular, knew… Globalist Oiligarchs…

Thanks for the American obsession, Paul. You’ve just proven my point. Now how about getting outside that confusion inside your head and addressing what I actually wrote?


Peter Woodforde writes:

John Wojdylo occasionally gnaws through the leather straps and sifts this sort of chaff from the dozens of feverish, but extremely well-funded Republican Right and Likud-Irgun terrorist sites, all chiefly characterised, incidentally, by endless pushing of the virtues of ethnic cleansing in Palestine.

Pardon, monsieur?

When Wojdylo rides a Cruise missile (or perhaps a Smart Bomb) into the suburbs of Baghdad, slapping his stetson, whoopin’ and hollerin’…

Wie bitte?

I’m extremely disappointed that Wojdylo has so far spared himself the task of linking Saddam and Robert Mugabe through a network of cricket-loving pacifists based in training camps in Pakistan…

Shto takoi?

In fact, part of Wojdylo’s reaction to those who reject a massive Cruise missile bombardment of Baghdad…

Peter’s hallucinating that I expressed a pro-war viewpoint in my article. It’s his phantasms playing up again. Thanks for proving my point, Peter.

Come on John, who else was there?

Actually, in the US a controversy is brewing over the organisers of the peace marches. I don’t know what’s being said in Australia about it, and I don’t know who organised the marches in Australia. As Michael Berube (a US academic) said:

…as I’ve said before, yes, it does matter that International ANSWER, as a front for the Workers World Party, has led the major anti-war demonstrations. These people are – how shall I put this politely? – sectarian loons…

So, to answer Peter’s question, neo-Stalinists were also there. The grannies no doubt outnumbered them; nevertheless, how would you feel if your march had been organised by somebody whose intention is to destroy our society as we know it? What if they’re actively supporting organisations or countries who want to see the fall of the West? Does it make a difference to you who organised the marches?


Michael Grau-Veliz writes:

The pro war undertones of John’s piece were not even masked.

My article is neither pro-war nor anti-war. My article is anti-left (but it also happens to be anti-right). This is what you must be reacting to. Why do you take criticism of the left as pro-war propaganda? Why cannot the left be criticised?

The pro war movement will have you believe that the freedom is only gained by war and bloodshed. That if you want freedom you have to fight for it.

The pro-war view is irrelevant to my article. But something here is revealing about you. The pro-war movement may have got the notion you mention from the Iraqis wanting liberation, who are overwhelmingly in favour of war. There’s good reason for us to believe that these Iraqis know what they’re talking about.

You haven’t found out what the Iraqis think before involving yourself in actions that would influence their fate.

The Iraqi desiring liberty is a black hole in your mind. This proves my point. The Iraqis are too weak to liberate themselves. The choice is: war and liberation from Saddam’s regime, or no war and the continuation of Saddam’s reign of terror.

You’ve made your choice, but feel entitled to ignore the consequences to the Iraqis you’re claiming to be helping. You presume to know what’s best for the Iraqis without knowing their view.

This kind of behaviour has permeated all of our society, indeed it is the basis of our economy and culture of consumerism. As bleak as this may sound, until we find an answer to curb our own selfishness and greed conflict will always exist and situations like the one we are currently facing will keep popping up.

The first step towards the answer lies in informing yourself of the viewpoint of those affected by your actions. Get to know them as human beings, not as projections of your humanitarian pose.

On the other hand the peaceniks will have you believe that war is to be avoided at all cost but offer no plausible solution. Where have these protesters been hiding for the last 12 years? Where were they when the Kurds were facing genocide? Using John’s example, where were they in the Tampa and SIEV-X incidents?



James Woodcock writes:

John makes the same assumptions of many lets-bomb-Iraq cheerleaders. It is simplistic to label all of the 10 million who marched as all being pacifists, leftists and Anti-Americanists.

I did not make this simplistic assumption: Margo Kingston did. In fact, I explicitly wrote: “First, though, the question arises to what extent are “the people” – that imaginary crowd of individuals whose viewpoint is expounded in Margo’s piece, The people’s instinct on the war – representative of the people that actually took to the streets that weekend. To what extent is the portrayal of “the people” a myth, to what extent is it accurate?”

All sorts of people marched. I mentioned two grannies in Fremantle. I had written: “So here are three examples that show how the concept of “the people” is narrower than reality. The reason is that adherents of this concept project a particular moral view onto the world and wrongly claim that “this is the world as it is”: in fact, life is bigger than theory, even antiwar theory.”

He condemns Gabriel Kolko as an apologist for Marxism and Stalinist gulags without further discussion or evidence.

I wrote that the argument will be given in a follow-up article. I’ll mention for now that Kolko’s leftist revisionist worldview is completely clear in at least two passages in the NATO piece.

However in my many attempts to convince people to support a more humane policy for asylum seekers I have found that using cold hard facts to counter the misinformation of the government was the best way to win hearts and minds. I also found I did not get very far with mere assertions that my stance was the morally superior one.

The starting point for my piece was the (initial) mystery of how an Iraqi could feel such despair at watching Western peace protesters. There’s a gulf between people, even in our own country. The world has indeed been torn asunder – but it begins inside people’s heads. It is certainly not the Iraqi’s fault. My argument explains how it happens. It is not an argument for moral superiority, let alone an assertion of it. It just tells it as it is. Unfortunately, you rarely see that in the media these days.


David Palmer, speaker at the Adelaide protest, protests:

In no way did I or anyone present endorse Saddam Hussein. Just the opposite.

I did not, however, say that the anti-war marchers that weekend directly endorsed Saddam Hussein. A few neo-nazis certainly would have, as they have done in Europe. As he informs readers of Webdiary, David did, indeed, mention the Iraqi butcher in the speech that he gave. He repeats, too, a line from the Adnan Hassan quote: “On Sunday I watched the peace activists rallying for peace without mentioning my butcher, Hussein.” But just mentioning Saddam Hussein is hardly the point. I had written: “The people” project their own anti-American obsession (in which Saddam Hussein barely exists) onto their image of Iraqis and thereby obliterate the point of view of the Iraqi who seeks liberty. In effect, they have murdered him in their minds.”

David only mentions Saddam Hussein while presuming to know what’s best for the Iraqis:

It will only strengthen the legend of the dictator Saddam Hussein and kill tens of thousands of innocent people. You and your government have already helped destroy the lives of almost half a million children through the UN embargo, but Saddam the dictator is still there…We don’t believe that dropping 4,000 bombs in the first 48 hours – as the Pentagon has announced it will do when Phase 2 of its invasion begins – will liberate the people of Iraq.

But the Iraqis do. Who are you, David, in your chauvinism, to tell the Iraqis what’s good for them? As if you know, and they don’t.

There’s the dose of American obsession, too:

Please explain to us, John, if the Bush administration is so intent on bringing democracy to Iraq why it has only provided $1 million of the $97 million allocated by the US Congress under the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998? …

The Iraqis don’t care who frees them from Saddam Hussein. They just want to get rid of him.

David – like “the people” – don’t put two and two together. They say they understand how nasty Saddam is; they give lip service to understanding what it’s like to live under a totalitarian regime; and then they think that the Iraqis care who gets rid of Saddam.

But that’s just part of treating people like abstractions. Tampa and SIEV-X all over again. Australia is a country of embedded distance.

John Wojdylo is a sadly misinformed propagandist.

But in his speech to 100,000 people in Adelaide, David quoted the following statistic: You and your government have already helped destroy the lives of almost half a million children through the UN embargo.

He doesn’t mention that the figure of “almost half a million” comes from a joint report by the WHO and the Iraqi Government. I think it’s relevant to know that the report was co-authored by representatives from a totalitarian regime that has a vested interest in exploiting divisions in Western political opinion. Academics like Chomsky are acting in gross violation of academic standards of citation when they keep repeating this figure.

Studies conducted in the Kurdish autonomous region give the lie to the WHO-Iraqi regime’s figure. Child mortality rates are far lower in the Kurdish region than the WHO-Iraqi regime figure, despite Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in genocidal attacks in the late 1980s, and despite the fact that the Kurdish region suffers double sanctions: the UN-sanctions on Iraq, and discriminatory practices by Saddam – with full cooperation from the World Health Organization.

This is not even to state the obvious: that Saddam is responsible for diverting aid away from his people towards building his empire. The Iraqis who desire liberty think so. But David Palmer didn’t bother finding out what they think, before telling 100,000 people in Adelaide what is best for the Iraqis.

“Almost half a million”?

This is propaganda.

* * *

Michael Chong writes:

Most anti-war protesters know Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical hold over Iraqi people will not loosen by itself…

I’m completely sure that just about everybody can tick a box saying, “Iraq: (a) totalitarian dictatorship.” I’m confident that most people, when presented with a list of atrocities Saddam or his henchmen have committed, would nod in agreement that the list is completely credible. But somehow the information remains on the surface, disjointed, doesn’t gel with all their other knowledge.

I’d say our age (since about the 1930s actually, but more so since the rise of the Internet) is characterised by the tons of information people have in their heads. But despite knowing tons of information, people don’t have a feel for what a totalitarian dictatorship is – what it actually feels like inside your body, how it makes your body sick (“Hussein is like a cancer eating away at me every moment of the day.”). Often it’s because of preoccupations (eg the obsession with America) – or maybe preoccupations are projections of the mind as it tries to fill the disjointed gaps: a search for meaning.

Knowledge of people and foreign cultures often remains abstract, somehow unreal.

This is the problem of modernity – Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. People who could become lovers pass by each other unsuspectingly, because they don’t take the time to get to know what they know. They may also be captive to some preoccupation or other – like Czeslaw Milosz’s captive minds – and stuck inside their own heads, can’t make out the details of factual reality outside.

In any case, what I want to say is that merely having the information in your head does not constitute knowing. Knowing has also something to do with how the information relates to the other things you do, the standing it is given in your contemplations.

Michael Chong goes on to describe the ideal antiwar protester, one that has all the good qualities he wants, and who in his perfection, contradicts the seven anti-war protesters I have answered above.

Even if Michael’s ideal protester was present at the anti-war marches, he or she was not visible. What was overwhelmingly visible was something that led an Australian Iraqi to despair.

Even in presenting his ideal, Michael does not take into account the view of the Iraqi who wants liberation. The point about complexity and unknown consequences he makes is irrelevent to the Iraqi’s knowing that American bombs will liberate him from Saddam’s totalitarian hold on him. Michael is still presuming to know what’s best for the Iraqi. (Adnan Hassan: “I don’t care who rules my country after an invasion as long as there are less jails, less killing.”)

Believing French foreign minister Villepin’s argument that the future is uncertain – that the consequences of getting rid of Saddam are unpredictable – and that therefore one ought not act, requires believing that the Iraqi faces a fate worse than Saddam Hussein following liberation. It requires believing that the Americans are worse than Saddam, or that the risk is not worth taking, and it’s better to leave Saddam in power. If you are by nature a person who cannot take risks, it’s natural that you’ll choose the “no war” option.

If the liberty-desiring Iraqis do not have a prominent place in the contemplation of the problem, the only consistent view is the “me, myself, I view”.

“The policy of war has repeatedly failed to achieve its objectives and has incurred unacceptable risks and costs.”

This is factually wrong, and plays into the hands of dictators. I’m not going to restate basic historical facts here. Also, “global peace” cannot be an aim of war – unless you intend to contemplate “global hegemony”; and so it never was an aim of war. That’s Michael’s superficially noble invention.

In any case, I am not arguing for or against this imminent war. I don’t know why Michael mentions it. My piece is a description of the way things are, not an argument for or against war.

“I don’t believe ignorance and simplemindedness is the appropriate description of the people who find war objectionable on the basis of their personal knowledge.”

Are you telling me that all John Howard has to do to avoid the charge of “ignorance and simplemindedness” is to claim that he favours war on the basis of his personal knowledge? Or that the neo-Stalinist who wants to destroy America can avoid scrutiny by saying he’s acting on the basis of his personal knowledge? I don’t think so. Everybody’s actions are scrutable.

The issue is: where was the display of solidarity with the Iraqis who desire liberty? Where was the apology that this time, we cannot support your quest for liberty? That would have been the honourable thing to do.

But no. The anti-war movement sticks to the deception that it’s doing it for the Iraqis. The reason is simple: They then don’t have to worry about the consequences of their actions, about the fact that if the antiwar protesters were to succeed, Saddam would certainly kill many thousands more Iraqis.

“I also strongly disagree with John’s statement that ‘Australians have no personal experience of evil’. “

Michael cannot seriously contend that evil has had a normative influence on Australian life in general. A few Holocaust survivors, etc, yes. But that’s all. This is what makes Australia an archetypical postmodernist society, where all sorts of things flourish that have no chance elsewhere.

In any case, the main point is not this. The absence of evil as a formative influence on Australians leads to the following: We have never been put in a moral dilemma where we must choose between the lives of loved ones and freedom – where we must win our freedom at the expense of our innocence.

The point is that memory of the experience of making a choice forced by evil makes it easier to imagine the viewpoint of others when they’re in the same situation.

Eastern Europe’s recent history – the strong memory of positive use of American power to counter totalitarianism, and memory of having to win freedom at the expense of the lives of friends and family – is the central reason why the anti-war movement is weak east of Germany. (Kolko is completely wrong, and it’s obvious why.) While half a million protesters turned out in Berlin, and a hundred thousand in Australian cities, only 1,000 turned up in Warsaw, and not many more in Prague.

Germany never had to win its freedom – it had freedom handed to it.

Eastern Europe is vastly different to Australia because of the evil it had to contend with over five decades.


I want to make the point that force is often the necessary price of liberation. This is the case in Iraq. It’s just the way it is. But it’s also what the Iraqis think. If you are for the war, you ought to take responsibility for the casualties that would result – but the reward would be liberation of the Iraqis from Saddam.

If you’re against the war, you avoid the casualties of this imminent war, but the Iraqis will be subjected to Saddam’s war against them for years to come. Your choice is your responsibility.

The following article, by Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor’s minister of foreign affairs, and joint-winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 1996, is pro-war, but it sheds light on the choice facing us, irrespective of whether you’re for or against the war.

Here are some excerpts [see “War for Peace? It Worked in My Country”, New York Times, Feb 25, 2003]:

There is hardly a family in my country that has not lost a loved one. Many families were entirely wiped out during the decades of occupation by Indonesia and the war of resistance against it. The United States and other Western nations contributed to this tragedy. Some bear a direct responsibility because they helped Indonesia by providing military aid. Others were accomplices through indifference and silence. But all redeemed themselves. In 1999, a global peacekeeping force helped East Timor secure its independence and protect its people. It is now a free nation.

But I still acutely remember the suffering and misery brought about by war. It would certainly be a better world if war were not necessary. Yet I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was drowning my people. We begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary.

So I follow with some consternation the debate on Iraq in the United Nations Security Council and in NATO. I am unimpressed by the grandstanding of certain European leaders. Their actions undermine the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator: the threat of the use of force.

But if the antiwar movement dissuades the United States and its allies from going to war with Iraq, it will have contributed to the peace of the dead. Saddam Hussein will emerge victorious and ever more defiant. What has been accomplished so far will unravel. Containment is doomed to fail. We cannot forget that despots protected by their own elaborate security apparatus are still able to make decisions.

Saddam Hussein has dragged his people into at least two wars. He has used chemical weapons on them. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people and tortured and oppressed countless others. So why, in all of these demonstrations, did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people? If we are going to demonstrate and exert pressure, shouldn’t it be focused on the real villain, with the goal of getting him to surrender his weapons of mass destruction and resign from power? To neglect this reality, in favour of simplistic and irrational anti-Americanism, is obfuscating the true debate on war and peace…

Yes, the antiwar movement would be able to claim its own victory in preventing a war. But it would have to accept that it also helped keep a ruthless dictator in power and explain itself to the tens of thousands of his victims.

History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation. A respected Kosovar intellectual once told me how he felt when the world finally interceded in his country: “I am a pacifist. But I was happy, I felt liberated, when I saw NATO bombs falling.”

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