Friday, December 05, 2003

Sorry to have been out of touch. Nothing has been holding me back but a typical, life-altering, small-business crisis at The Outpost. But I can't let Joseph Perkins' column, which ran in today's Gazette, pass without comment. Once again, Perkins has provided clear and convincing evidence that he is the dumbest nationally syndicated columnist in the business today.

He starts this way:

'War," wrote John Stuart Mill, one of the 19th century's greatest thinkers, "is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.
"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight," Mill continued, "is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
That brings to mind the anti-war crowd – those stumping for the Democratic presidential nomination, those opining on the nation's liberal editorial pages, and those protesting on the streets of the nation's capital and other cities throughout the fair land.
They are, in Mill's words, miserable creatures. They think nothing is worth war, not even the mass murder of nearly 3,000 of their fellow countrymen (and women and children) on Sept. 11, 2001.

But what those in the "anti-war" crowd, including Democratic presidential candidates, who supported the war in Afghanistan but opposed the war in Iraq? Can they have fallen so rapidly into a "decayed and degraded state"?

They have nothing for which they are willing to fight, not even to prevent a madman like Saddam Hussein from developing or acquiring chemical, biological or nuclear weapons with which he could one day threaten the United States or her allies.

Notice how rapidly the threat recedes into the future. By this standard of waging war, we could invade Switzerland.

Those in the anti-war crowd perfunctorily profess their support for American military personnel fighting on their unworthy behalf in Iraq. Yet, they derive a certain perverse satisfaction, it seems, with every fresh news report of a truck bombing, a helicopter crash, a suicide attack.

Just this morning driving to work I heard a report of another American soldier dead. I am a card-carrying member of this anti-war crowd, but I felt no satisfaction, perverse or otherwise. Just sad, and a bit angry.

The United States suffered more than 58,000 fatalities in Vietnam, some 47,369 of which were combat-related. That's nearly 1,500 percent more fatalities than the United States has suffered in Iraq.

And it took only 10 years! Let's see, 81 American soldiers died in Iraq in November. At that rate, it'll take 59 years to catch up.

The reality is, more Americans have been killed in Los Angeles alone this year than have been killed in Iraq.

Of course, millions of people live in Los Angeles. We have about 130,000 troops in Iraq. A more useful comparison would be to imagine that 441 murders had taken place in Yellowstone County since last spring. That would be considered a nightmarish disaster -- and those are the odds our troops are up against. Casualties are remarkably low by combat standards, but Iraq ain't LA.

The opposition to the war in Iraq is less about principle – on the parts of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, the liberal opinion page writers, the anti-war street protesters – than it is about politics. For the politicos and journalistas and activists who were bitter about the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, who have never stopped hating George W. Bush, are the same miserable creatures who are so loudly decrying the postwar campaign in Iraq.

It's always helpful when a guy like Perkins lets us know what we really think. I would have sworn it was about principle. What about those of us who think the 2000 election was just the luck of the draw and who have never gotten around to even starting to hate George Bush? How miserable are we?

They almost don't care if the postwar reconstruction in Iraq fails, if Saddam returns to power, if the Iraqi people are once again subject to his genocidal rule, so long as they can play the Iraq card against Bush.

They almost don't care? Translation: They do care.

Indeed, just last week, a secret strategy memo, prepared by Democratic staff on the supposedly nonpartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested that Democrats ought to launch an investigation of the White House next year to have maximum impact on the presidential election.

The memo is here. Judge for yourself.

Then there are the Bush-hating opinion writers – and they know who they are – who insinuate that the commander in chief has somehow lost the peace in Iraq because he supposedly neglected to consider an "exit strategy."

Notice that Perkins doesn't suggest that there actually was, or is, an exit strategy. He just objects to the notion that there might not have been one. Our nation's stumbles in the early days of the post-World War II occupation are often cited in defense of what's happening now in Iraq. But the situations are wildly different. Nobody on Dec. 6, 1941, was thinking about an exit strategy in Berlin. On March 18, 2003, with the war on Iraq imminent -- and discretionary -- and with military victory a foregone conclusion, post-war strategy should have been the top priority.

The opponents of the Iraq war, the knee-jerk critics of the postwar reconstruction, reveal the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling of which Mill wrote nearly two centuries ago.
Their opposition, their criticism is fueled not so much by reason, but by hatred – toward their president or toward their country.

And what fuels Perkins? It sure ain't reason.

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