The old "celebrity protester" crowd is back. There they were in Washington, on the mall: Jane Fonda, formerly known as "Hanoi Jane," has now become "Baghdad Jane;" Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, husband wife, exhorting the crowd against President Bush and the war in Iraq.
The crowd's signs read, "No War Is A Just War." Not even the war against Hitler in World War II? Another sign read, "Bush = Evildoer." Really?
The president believes, as I do, that the Islamic terrorists want to kill us, and already have at the World Trade Center and elsewhere, and if they are not stopped, they will seek to conquer and threaten the entire world into submission. President Bush, who fights Islamic terrorism, an "evildoer?"
The crowd was large — in the tens of thousands — and their rhetoric denounced the United States. The public officials who were elected opponents of the war, senators and congressmen did not appear, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers, both of whom addressed the crowd.
Kucinich is running again for president, and Conyers is now chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and threatened impeachment proceedings against Bush when he was the senior ranking Democratic member. He will now have a chance to do that.
These people and their counterparts do have the capacity to bring down the government and prevent the president from being effective in pursuing the war. They were successful against President Johnson, destroying his reputation and sending him into oblivion. It is not far fetched that they can do the same to the idea and those who believe it that Western civilization is at great risk.
Pre-World War II in Great Britain, some in British universities — the leaders of the next generation — said they would not serve in the military forces. Many said they were pacifists, others supporters of the apparently invincible Nazis. Even the then-King Edward VIII before he abdicated to marry his love, Wallis Simpson, conveyed by his statements and his Nazi salute caught by a photographer his support for Hitler.
In America, there was the rise of the America First movement led by the national hero, Charles Lindbergh. Nevertheless, when the chips were down and the Nazis began their conquest of the West, the British stood up and so did the Americans. The French collapsed quickly.
Will the spirit and willingness to die for the concept of freedom rise again? I don't know, and I worry. We in America are leading la dolce vita. We've never had it so good. Sure, there are plenty of problems, but unemployment is down to 4.5 percent. More than half of America's adults are in the stock market and it is rising.
We are a country of wealth and prosperity, even if not fairly distributed. We love life. Our enemies, the Islamic terrorists, love death and martyrdom. Remember what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, said, "Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute."
Remember their reward when they carry out that command? They are immediately lifted to heaven at the side of God, and are provided the services of 72 virgins. Can we in the Judeo-Christian Western world compete? Our reward is not so clearly spelled out by our biblical teachings and in such detail. We know there is a heaven and a hell, and heaven is far better.
Islamic terrorists are willing to wait the years needed to overcome our forces. They know they have the support of those Americans, British, Spaniards and French and others who wish to surrender to the terrorists' threats and get out of Iraq.
Because of the threats, some countries have never gone into Iraq. Others have already withdrawn from Iraq and still others threaten to do so. Our army in Iraq, according to our former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is "about broken." Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who has just been confirmed to head our surge of forces in Iraq, has said our situation in Iraq is "dire."
Irrespective of whether or not we should have gone into Iraq in the first place, and I believe we were right to do so because of CIA director George Tenet's statement that weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a "slam dunk," it is surely a fact that today Iraq is a center of terrorism.
While Shia and Sunni hate one another and are embroiled in a civil war, they are united in their hate of America and the culture of the Western world and were we to leave Iraq, they will seek to follow us across the sea in their endeavor to kill us, unless we convert or pay tribute.
So, what options do we have? The President has offered one, the "surge." I hope it works, but I doubt it. Then there is the option of telling our allies, regional and NATO, that after the surge is tried and if it fails, we are withdrawing unless they come in and stand with us shoulder-to-shoulder. If they do not and we leave Iraq, I believe their borders — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, the Gulf states — will be overrun by fleeing Sunni followed by the guns and swords of the Shia majority, and terrorists who will pretend to be refugees.
When these regional allies contemplate that future event, they may conclude having us remain is a better alternative. We should try it. I believe it will work. If it doesn't, we should get out.