A Pointless Protest

In the weeks and months that led up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, certain American politicians, foreign diplomats, and Hollywood’s finest rallied against what they viewed as an unnecessary and immoral conflict. Weapons of Mass Destruction expert and I Am Sam star Sean Penn visited Iraq and expressed hope that a peaceful solution could be found–a solution which undoubtedly would lack US military intervention and an ouster of Saddam Hussein. French officials claimed that Iraq was fully compliant with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, and therefore no military intervention was needed. Political activists and politicians decried President Bush for demanding that Saddam disarm or be removed. These various groups all claimed that a war would be a terrible and extraneous hardship to inflict upon the Iraqi people. They claimed that President Bush was conducting a war for oil in the Middle East, and was moving the nation towards a new age of imperialism and expansionism. Hopefully, the events of the past few weeks have dispelled some of these ludicrous notions. With the regime of Saddam Hussein toppled and the Iraqi people free to express themselves, the nations of the world see joyous celebrations on the streets of Baghdad. War efforts directed by the U.S. have successfully swept Republican Guard units from the field of battle, and preliminary tests have already indicated the presence of weapons-grade plutonium and Sarin gas. Despite the accuracy of U.S. predictions for the course of the war, many of the same protesters still believe that the war was wrong. From an economic standpoint, I can understand why countries such as France, China, Russia, and Germany oppose this operation, as they all benefited from illegal trade with Iraq. These countries have established a profitable relationship with Saddam Hussein in breach of U.N. resolutions. As such, it is in their best interest to keep this dictator in power. Of course, they cannnot come out and say that they are opposed to the war because they want to sell more missiles and fiber optic cables at a hefty profit; instead, they claim that the war is morally suspect and that the U.S. is acting only in self-interest. It is the actions of these countries that are morally wrong and self-guided. These countries have a logical, albeit despicable, reason for supporting Saddam. On the other hand, how do American citizens justify their opposition to an Iraqi regime change? Peace protesters still allege that the war hurts the Iraqi people. Certainly civilians die in the conflict, and any such deaths are terrible and unfortunate. However, one must consider how many people Saddam Hussein killed in his tenure as dictator. How many innocent lives were snuffed in atrocious manners by a madman bent on regional domination? Such a figure may never be known, but had the U.S. not intervened, the number of persons killed by Saddam would continue to skyrocket. Maybe in attempting to find reason behind these protests, we assume too much. Perhaps society, which provides infinite freedom of speech, contains people who protest not on behalf of a firmly felt conviction, but simply because they can. It seems as if the great majority of anti-war protesters are more interested in Bush-whacking than they are in opposing a war. When balancing the pros and cons of a war to remove the Hussein regime, it seems there is little evidence to suggest that the world would be safer and that the Iraqi people happier with Saddam in power. The fact that the price of gasoline in America will fall by a few cents per gallon after the conflict should not detract from the fact that the lives of millions of future Iraqis have been spared from the brutality of Saddam. Anti-war or anti-Bush protesters should be careful that, in their attempts to disagree with everything the Bush administration does, they do not end up looking foolish by opposing a legitimate military action. Whenever a democratic country commits to war, there is bound to be some degree of dissent. The U.S. declaration of war with Japan, coming very shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, did not pass unanimously through Congress. In the 1991 Gulf War, there was a great deal of doubt as to the merits of committing U.S. troops to liberate Kuwait. However, once the actions of the U.S. proved to be in the best interests of freedom and international peace, the dissent receded, and the dissenters no longer belabored the issue. However, even as this war approaches an end, and Iraqi citizens are rejoicing in newfound freedom, many groups throughout the U.S. still protest. Perhaps memories of the 2000 election exemplify opposition to President Bush in any way possible. Perhaps the words and opinions of high school drop-outs, killing time between movie shoots, have convinced many to become lifelong opponents of a justified and successful military action. Whatever the reason, the protests to war are accomplishing nothing, and will only divide and sow discord among the world and this country.