NEW YORK – As time runs out for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to disarm or face a military thrashing from the United States and its allies, "pro-war" — or "anti-anti-war" — Americans are saying they have had enough of the recent protests in various cities at home and abroad.
"We decided we can't sit idly by while President Bush's agenda, specifically his continuing efforts on the war on terror, specifically Iraq … while they … Democrats, the left wing and Hollywood … conduct a well-coordinated, well organized, well-financed effort to undo the president and really to destroy him, because that's their goal," David Bossie, president of Citizens United, told Foxnews.com.
On Friday, Citizens United, a grassroots organization, launched a national ad campaign supporting Bush's hard-charging approach to Baghdad.
Whereas actor Martin Sheen, who plays imaginary President Jeb Bartlet on The West Wing, has become the Hollywood face for the anti-war movement, former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, a recognized actor in his own right, has become the face for the counter movement.
"Thank goodness we have a president with the courage to protect our country," said Thompson, who plays a New York City district attorney in the NBC series Law and Order, in the ad he wrote himself. "What should we do with the inevitable prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of a murderous and aggressive enemy? Can we afford to appease Saddam?
"And for those who ask what has Saddam done to us, I ask what had the 9/11 hijackers done to us before 9/11?"
Citizens United has also launched a petition drive on its Web site to support Bush. Organization leaders have been traveling the radio and TV circuit getting their message out.
"We feel that it is vital that we hear both sides — that the American people feel both sides," Bossie said.
Bossie said the message of citizen support for the president has been lost in the shadows of celebrity activism against military action. Sheen, comedienne Janeane Garofalo, actress Susan Sarandon and rock star Sheryl Crow are among the Hollywood elite who have taken to the airwaves denouncing any war against Iraq and making Bush out to be the bad guy.
"They've been mad at him since he beat out Al Gore. This is really a chance to undo the president's popularity. That's what I really think — at the end of the day — they want," Bossie said.
Pro-war activism remains scattered and uncoordinated, but some demonstrations have already taken place.
On Feb. 8, 75 pro-warriors gathered in Costa Mesa, Calif., to wave American flags, chant "USA! USA!" and tote signs praising the administration’s hard-line stance.
Thousands of people showed up last Saturday in support of Bush and U.S. troops and criticized anti-war protestors and France's opposition to authorizing war against Iraq. Pro-war demonstrators took to the streets in Orlando, Pensacola, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
Marchers chanted and carried signs that recalled familiar slogans such as "America — Love It or Leave It."
"I was so saddened to see so many in our nation not supporting our troops and our country," Naval Warrant Officer David Wolff, a Desert Storm veteran, said of the marches. "This is very uplifting."
While Hollywood carries the torch of the much more visible anti-war movement, much of the pro-war activism is emerging from an unlikely place — college campuses.
On Feb. 13, students from Georgetown and American universities in Washington crowded outside the French embassy protesting France's opposition to the United States.
Last week, a group of students at Northwestern University in Illinois showed up at an anti-war protest to make a point that there is more than one viewpoint on this issue and that the media hasn't covered both sides.
Northwestern University junior David Weigel — also editor-in-chief of the campus' weekly Northwestern Chronicle — organized a group of about 25 people over e-mail to counter an anti-war protest on campus last week.
Weigel said students who want to oppose the anti-war — what he calls an "anti-American" movement — should invite speakers to campus and should take part in rallies to get the message out to the media that there is another corner of the debate.
"Being there at an anti-war protest, it may seem silly," he said, "but that has the effect of not letting the media treat it like a burgeoning anti-war movement …if there is no pro-America presence whatsoever, it's very easy for American reporters to just toe the anti-American line."
A group of Harvard law students this week launched Students for Protecting America. The group's position is that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, Americans can no longer remain complacent in the face of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among rogue states.
"We are all frustrated by the anti-war protests of recent weeks and believe that most Americans agree with us, but have been less visible than the opposition," Brett Joshpe, founder of the group, said in a statement. "We firmly believe that in the absence of alternatives, this war is right for America, Iraq and the world."
Students for War is an ad-hoc committee recently set up to build support across America for military action. The group states that if Saddam is not disarmed, weapons reportedly in his possession will eventually come back to haunt us.
"Imagine if an Iraqi nuclear weapon were detonated on a American city — either by the Hussein’s regime directly or through terrorist immediacies — the result could be the catastrophic death of millions of Americans," the Web site reads.
"We feel those who would appease Saddam Hussein are just as misguided as those leaders of yesteryear who chose to appease German dictator Adolph Hitler."
Supporters can sign a petition addressed to Bush on the group's Web site, studentsforwar.