Jewish World Review April 8, 2003 / 5 Nisan 5763
Clarence Page: Post-Hussein: Winning the true peace
There they go again, those carping
critics of the war. Still marching, still spouting off. Now
their words have caught up with them.
Here's what just three of them said about the war of
liberation. Read, fellow citizen, and be horrified:
"This war is not going well . . . We grossly miscalculated
what [the enemy leader's] response would be," said one.
"It is not helpful for the president's spin machine to be
out there right now saying that [the enemy president] is
weakening," said another. "Nothing has changed."
Our coalition faces "a quagmire . . . a long protracted
bloody war" unless our president finds "a way to get the
bombing stopped" and get the enemy president to "pull back his troops voluntarily,"
He also said, "Give peace a chance."
Who made these statements? Democrats? Lefty peaceniks at marches and rallies?
No, try conservative peaceniks speaking out on Sunday morning TV talk shows and
the floor of Congress against President Bill Clinton's war in Kosovo in the spring of
The anti-war speakers quoted above were, in respective order, then-Senate Majority
Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.), then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and
then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss).
Now you know what to answer when you are asked where all of the war protesters
were when Clinton bombed Kosovo. A lot of them were in Congress.
Slate.com writer William Saletan originally posted these quotes and more on the
online magazine's Web site on May 7, 1999. They serve as a cautionary note to those
who now criticize protesters of the Iraq war for lack of patriotism, sabotaging American
morale or aiding the enemy.
Happily, the doomsday predictions of Kosovo war critics proved to be wrong. Let's
hope that those who feared a quagmire or a bloodbath in Iraq also are wrong. That
outcome depends not only on how Americans win the war but also how we win the
The war in Kosovo took less than three months to win. The evil enemy, President
Slobodan Milosevic, fell from power soon after that and is facing war crimes charges.
After the Iraq war, a satisfactory peace needs to be won on three levels: within Iraq,
within the Persian Gulf region and around the world, which still is torn by terrorist
Of the Iraqi people, this war has offered us two sides. There is the side that hates the
U.S. so much that it produced the Iraqi woman who reportedly posed as a pregnant
mother in distress to lure American soldiers into a car-bomb death. Why do they hate
us? It is not a trivial question. We ignore such fiercely anti-American passions at our
There are important clues to Iraq's future in the side that produced "Mohammed,"
whose last name was withheld by the Marines who took him and his family into
protective custody. The 32-year-old Iraqi lawyer and Shiite Muslim walked six
hazardous miles from the center of Nasiriyah to tip off Marines and help them rescue
injured Marine Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Afterward, when he mentioned he would love a U.S. flag, the Marines said later, they
rushed to get him one. Right on. Hollywood is justifiably eager to make a movie about
Pfc. Lynch. She can teach us a lot about how we Americans like to see ourselves. But
"Mohammed" and his family can teach us something valuable too, about how we
Americans wish everyone saw us.
Unfortunately, outside the U.S., where media do not feel obliged to report from a
pro-American perspective as most of ours do, the world sees a bloodier and more
tragic version of our precision bombing and liberation efforts. While our media dwell
on the prize (images of happy, liberated Iraqis), independent media elsewhere,
particularly in the Arab world, dwell more often on the cost of victory (grisly images of
dead or bleeding civilians).
Where we see news pictures of our glorious victories, many others see, as one
resentful Palestinian youth once told me, "the U.S. once again kicking our butts and
bossing us around."
It is important, with this image of America in some people's minds, that we not only
topple Saddam Hussein's regime quickly but that we also turn power over to a new
Iraqi regime quickly. We can spend billions on public relations to improve our image,
but people will judge us Americans mostly by our deeds.
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© 2001 TMS