On Native Ground
FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS START UNNECESSARY WARS
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's been amusing watching the pro-war crowd get worked up over what the New York Post dubbed "the axis of weasel."
In the eyes of those who want war, France and Germany and the rest of the countries that oppose the Bush administration's rush to pulverize Iraq are weasels. Just to reinforce the point, the Post ran a picture on its front page on Valentine's Day that showed the UN Security Council in session, only with the heads of the French and German ambassadors replaced with the heads of weasels.
There's nothing like the subtlety of conservative humor, no?
Listening to the pro-war folks rail about the ingratitude of the French and German people begs this very important question I'd like to ask: Did it ever occur to the Euro-bashers that France and Germany are trying to save the United States from making a horrible mistake?
Think about it. France and Germany are two nations that know the horrors of war too well. France knows about the folly of colonial wars - Vietnam and Algeria most recent among them. Germany knows about the folly of unchecked militarism and fascism, which is why the nation that produced Bismarck, Hindenburg and Hitler is now one of the most profoundly anti-war nations in the world.
France's and Germany's opposition to a war with Iraq is not knee-jerk anti-Americanism. It's an expression of genuine concern for the future of a nation they honestly and truly love and admire and which is now under the control of madmen.
That is what motivated more than 10 million people in 60 nations to protest on Feb. 15. President Bush may dismiss the importance of this unprecedented show of global unity, but how long can he and his administration get away with ignoring the genuine desire for peace expressed by millions of people around the world?
There may still be a war with Iraq, but the "coalition of the willing" is small indeed and the leaders of the countries that support the war don't have the support of the their people. In Britain, a recent poll by the BBC showed 90 percent of Britons opposed to going to war with Iraq without UN support. Polling elsewhere in Europe found similarly wide margins of opposition in places such as Turkey (94 percent), Spain (90 percent) and Italy (73 percent).
Even in the U.S., where a recent New York Times-CBS News poll found that 42 percent of those polled believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks - an astonishing display of ignorance - 59 percent think the U.S. should give the UN weapons inspectors more time to do their job of disarming Iraq.
It is amazing that a coherent opposition to a war has come together even before the formal hostilities begin and that this worldwide opposition is happening despite the best efforts of the so-called leaders. That is a reflection of how much America is loved - not hated - and how much the rest of the world is worried about us.
Remember how the world reacted to what happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. The outpouring of concern and sympathy towards America was immense and all of the disagreements that nations had with the Bush administration were put aside after that tragic day.
But the global goodwill didn't last. Rather than focus on the work of bringing those behind the Sept. 11 attacks to justice, the Bush administration used the attacks to implement a bullying and bellicose foreign policy where the U.S. is the world's sole superpower and any country that gets in the way is toast.
Over the objections of those who believe that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida are the real threats to peace and stability, the Bush team quickly decided that Iraq was the perfect place to test this new doctrine of global dominance.
Our European allies have done more of the hard police work to track down al-Qaida's operatives than have the U.S. intelligence agencies. They recognized long before Sept. 11, 2001 that bin Laden was a bigger threat than Saddam. Instead, their efforts have been belittled or ignored by an administration whose key members have been lusting for another crack at Saddam for more than a decade.
Thanks to the careless rhetoric and macho posturing of the Bush administration, long-time allies have been alienated for the sake of a war that few people in the world want.
Maybe this is going to be George W. Bush's legacy - uniting the world in opposition to war and imperialism. Powerful displays like the Feb. 15 protests are just the beginning of what has become a worldwide movement to stop a war that doesn't need to happen.
The Bush administration should pay attention to what its friends around the world are saying - that war should be the last resort and that every attempt to disarm Iraq short of war should be used. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that President Bush cares to listen.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).