Amir Taheri, editor of Paris Based Politique Internationale, visited the London Anti-War protest last weekend in London. One of his group was Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother, who tried to address the crowd.
One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother, managed to attract the reverend's attention and told him how Saddam Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in the Ba'ath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.
"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" 78-year old Salima demanded.
The reverend was not pleased.
[don't forget the Green Eggs and Ham, sing song tone as he says...]"Today is not about Saddam Hussein," he snapped. "Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq." Salima had to beat a retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend's gorillas closed in to protect his holiness.
Now, I can understand the general revulsion for war and the fact that it can be an extremely emotional issue. It's an easy thing (in fact it's a mindless thing) to stand up and say that war is bad. The President has to take responsibility for allowing the mindless arguments to gain momentum and take center stage. By failing to make the case that war, as evil and destructive as it is, might just be a better choice than doing nothing, he is losing valuable time, allowing unnecessary dissension among our allies, as well as sacrificing his personal credibility.
The issue is complex, the President was in the position to frame the issue and present a sound case for action over appeasement. He hasn't done it. Instead the momentum of public opinion has swung towards the appeasers and the kind-hearted, if not simple-minded idealists who would rather ignore evil than confront it. In the words of...
Charles Kennedy, a boyish-looking, red-headed Scot who leads the misnamed Liberal Democrat Party. But he, too, had no time for "complex issues" that could not be raised at a mass rally.
"The point of what we are doing here is to tell the American and British governments that we are against war," he pontificated. "There will be ample time for other issues."
The President has wasted time in not in tackling the complex issues early on. He made a masterful speech to the UN and promptly dropped the ball. His credibility and America's credibility have suffered. The President is suffering from the same sort of idealism that keeps the Left from welcoming free speech at a Peace Rally. He must make the effort to address the complex issues involved and be less strong-armed and more persuasive in making the case.