Michael J. Totten

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Quotes for the Weekend

Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other.

- George Orwell, 1942

The pioneering and humane positions expressed through the demonstrations should be viewed with esteem and kindness.

- Saddam Hussein, five days ago

I was watching TV on Sunday and I felt the most miserable person on the face of the Earth.

- An Iraqi refugee in Australia, commenting on the anti-war demonstrations

The Threatening Storm

In today's New York Times, Clinton Administration official Kenneth Pollack reminds us of what we tend to forget about Saddam Hussein and his nuclear weapons program. (Via LGF.)

America has never encountered a country that saw nuclear weapons as a tool for aggression. During the cold war we feared that the Russians thought this way, but we eventually learned that they were far more conservative. Our experts may be split on how to handle North Korea, but they agree that the Pyongyang regime wants nuclear weapons for defensive purposes — to stave off the perceived threat of an American attack. The worst that anyone can suggest is that North Korea might blackmail us for economic aid or sell such weapons to someone else (with Iraq being near the top of that list). Only Saddam Hussein sees these weapons as offensive — as enabling aggression.

I'd like to add to this warning. Kenneth Pollack omits a crucial detail.

Saddam Hussein is guilty of genocide. He is, in fact, the only dictator in history who has acquired the weapons of genocide and deployed them for that purpose. He is far more dangerous than other aggressive imperialists. He is a genocidal fascist, and he is a Stalinist.

He is the most dangerous man on Earth. Don't let anyone tell you we just want to steal his oil.

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Charles Krauthammer makes some interesting observations about war protests and the Eastern Europeans.

Europe did not take to the streets against America last weekend; only Western Europe did. The streets of Eastern Europe were silent. The Poles, and their Eastern European neighbors, have an immediate personal experience of life under tyranny -- and of being liberated from that tyranny by American power. The French and their neighbors are six decades removed from their liberation. They think freedom is as natural as the air they breathe, rather than purchased at the price of blood -- American blood in no small measure.

This is good, but it is not the whole story.

The Eastern European "street" is no more in favor of regime-change in Iraq than the folks in Western Europe. The crucial difference here is not that the East is less pacifist. The difference is that the East is not anti-American. It simply does not occur to the Czechs and the Poles to hold a hate-America festival in the streets. They may disagree with our policy. But they are our friends.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

The Terrorist I Know

Shortly after September 11 my wife and I learned that we had hired a terrorist. He spent eight days in our house, right under our noses. We had no idea who he was at the time.

Shelly and I bought an old Victorian house two years ago, and the floors needed work. Boy, they needed work. Before I knew what I was in for, I thought I'd sand and finish the floors myself. Then we ripped out the carpet and took a look.

It was a real excavation. The floors were thrashed from 110 years of abuse. They had been painted six times (lead paint, of course), gummed up with carpet glue, slathered with black tar (for some inexplicable reason), tiled-over with fake metal "wood" parfait sheets, banged-up, scratched across, hammered on, and stained. The floors had never been sanded.

Our real estate agent said Mike Bortin at Zen Hardwoods did the best work in town. We called him and got an estimate. Then we hired him.

I could have punched his name into Google. He was a known terrorist, but he was not a fugitive. He lived under his real name. The feds knew where he was. If I thought to Google the guy, I would have learned the following:

He belonged to the Symbionese Liberation Army. He was involved with the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. He participated in a bank robbery where Myrna Opsahl was murdered. He spent time in prison for possession of explosives. He planned to blow up the naval sciences building in Berkeley to "protest" the Vietnam War.

I didn't Google him. Why should I? He came highly recommended. And he was a floor guy, for God's sake.

When I first met him I thought he was nuts. Maybe he was retarded. I had never met such an inarticulate person. He was like the guy at the front of the bus, yammering at the bus driver and ignored by everyone else. Every word was mumbled, and every word was slurred. A phone conversation was impossible. He had to be interviewed in person.

So we had him over to the house and I thought: He smoked way too much pot in the sixties. He's inhaled 500 pounds of lead paint dust. Brain cells shot to shit, can't utter a coherent sentence, but hey -- He knows wood. He knows his floors. Everyone says he's the best. We interviewed some other guy, but he was a punk-ass kid who didn't know or care about wood. This guy, Mike Bortin, said he loved wood. Said finishing floors is his craft. He offered to do all the prep work for free. So we hired him.

He did a smashing job, I must say. Everyone who comes to the house says they love our warm and shiny wood floors. It's the nicest indoor feature, and our house is Victorian.

So I recommended Mike Bortin to a colleague who also needed his floors done. A month later, he comes over to my desk, sits himself down, and says "The floor guy was arrested today. He’s in the SLA. He kidnapped Patty Hearst."

"Bullshit," I said. "Get outta here."

"No, really," he said. "His name was Mike Bortin, right? Gruff-sounding hippie-looking dude with curly hair. He’s on TV today."

I laughed. Laughed. How gullible did he think I was? I gave him a gentle shove.

"I have work to do," I said.

"I'm not going away until you open up Google and punch in his name,"he said.

So I did. I was sure Google wouldn' produce a damn thing. Or, if it did, some other guy named Mike Bortin was busted, and he was from LA or Yuma or someplace my floor guy from Southeast Portland who owned a business and had four kids. He was married and he was a simpleton. Too dumb to lead a revolution.

I punched in his name, just to make my colleague go away. That'sthe only reason, and I laughed when I did it. I was sure no kidnapping, murdering, pipe-bombing terrorist had worked in my house for eight days.

Boom. There he was. Our floor guy, hauled off to jail for murder by the feds. Patty Hearst? The SLA? Our floor guy was that guy?

I saw him on the news that night. Oh it was him, all right. I’d recognize him anywhere.

He said something to a reporter in a voice I did not recognize. Didn't slur a word. Didn’t mumble anything under his breath. Didn't talk like a doped-up retard. He pronounced his words clearly, and his eyes betrayed a spooky intelligence.

He does good work. I'm not surprised he comes recommended. Hell, I recommended him. It doesn't look like he's done anything wrong since his bad old SLA days. He's married. With kids. He tried so hard to push the bones to the back of the closet. But they just kept spilling onto the floor. And now he's in jail.

I still have his business card on the refrigerator. Zen Hardwoods. Something makes me keep it there. I don't know what it is. Somewhere in the file cabinet is a hand-written ten-year guarantee for the work he did in the house. He'll be out in six years. The work is two years old. That leaves two years to call him up and say, hey, the floors need polishing. Could you please come over and take a look?

I can't bring myself to throw his card away. But I am not going to call him.

Remembering Mike Bortin

In today's Front Page Magazine, Stephen Schwartz remembers Mike Bortin, the guy who sanded and polished my hardwood floors.

The Mike Bortin I remembered then, and whom I recall now as he appeared when we were teenagers, was the furthest thing from a terrorist, to say nothing of claiming credentials as a revolutionary. He was a rather unappetizing smartass of no intellectual distinction and no political opinions, who made a point of harassing me for my then-Communist views. He sat in our history class and spread wide his toothy sneer, pressing me with the argument that nobody could want to be a Communist when one could enjoy the typical teenage pleasure of drag-racing. His face was fat then.

There were a number of other oafs like him at Lowell High, who made it clear that radical political nonconformity was repellent to them, and some of whom were quick with racial insults, since the young Communists and other radicals of that time emphasized our devotion to the African-American civil rights movement. Strangely, all three of the worst left-baiters at Lowell turned into leftist fanatics when they left home. Some, once they got to college, had been transformed by their experience in SDS, an organization that we young Communists of a pro-Soviet variety eschewed.

We read a lot and thought a lot and, in the first wave, were rather repressed about sexuality and dope-smoking. Our commitment was terribly wrong, in that we turned against our native land and the liberties it embodies, but we were idealists and intellectuals. We gravitated to universities like Berkeley and Madison because they represented a high standard, not because they were riot schools, the leftwing equivalent of party schools – although we helped turn them into another, more sinister kind of party schools.

By 1968 many of the “young pioneers” had personally and professionally moved on from mindless activism. Horowitz had returned from Britain and became the hardworking editor of Ramparts magazine. Radosh had published serious studies of U.S. foreign policy. I was honing my craft as a poet and translator, and had begun my own evolution away from Stalinism to Trotskyism.

But the tone in the mass movement was increasingly set by the Johnny-come-latelies, which seems to be an inevitable outcome in leftist history. They were not big readers or thinkers; their intellect was located somewhere between their viscera and their sexual organs. They were having the time of their lives, and nobody was going to get in their way, as the family of Myrna Opsahl learned, the hard way.

We who pioneered the leftism of the ‘60s were wrong, but we swam against the stream, to use a phrase once favored by the Bolsheviks in describing the socialists who opposed the first world war. We did not organize or join mobs. We sought a fresh path, refusing to recognize that it might lead us into a fetid swamp. And we swam against the stream when we broke with the Left. Indeed, none of us are predictable functionaries of the “bourgeois regime” today. We continue to follow our own courses.

Mike Bortin and his SLA “comrades,” by contrast, did what they did to be cool, to be part of the gang. Just as Bortin spoke for the mediocre majority in high school when he jeered at my Communism, so he spoke for the mediocre majority in college when he claimed the “revolution” would be served by terrorism. They did not swim against the stream; they were swept along.

In a sense, none of us changed at all, at least in our hearts, which is what counts.

Bortin and Co. have now been sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in the murder of Myrna Opsahl. The hysterical Emily Montague got eight years; her ex-husband Bill Harris, babbling incoherently and posturing like the punk he is, acted as if he thought impersonating a homeless person would gain him some form of mercy. But the simian Harris received seven years. Kathleen Soliah, alias Sara Jane Olson, who had the aspect of a lobotomy patient, and got six years, as did Bortin. The smirk he had worn in high school was finally removed from his face.

Thanks for writing that, Stephen. It is not easy for me to put two and two together. It is hard to believe that the doddering wood craftsman I hired was a terrorist. He played the part of the simpleton, even to me. I don’t know why he pretended to be dumber than he is. Maybe he is a case study in massive personality repression. Maybe to bury his dark side he had to shut down most of his brain. I don’t know, and I probably never will.

You know him better than I do. But I know him well enough already.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The Cost of War

Ian McEwan is undecided about the war against Saddam. In the New York Observer he criticizes doves and hawks alike.

He puts this question to the hawks:

There is a simple piece of arithmetic which they cannot bring themselves to do in public: Given the vile nature of the regime and the threat it presents to the region, how many Iraqi civilians should we allow ourselves to kill to be rid of him? What is the unacceptable level?

That's an excellent question. But it is not easy to answer. How do you draw a definitive line and say "anything on this side is acceptable, anything on that side is not."

It ought to go without saying, but dropping a nuclear weapon on Baghdad is way over the line. Such a move would be a war crime and an atrocity. It would disgrace our flag for ever.

On the other hand, if only one person is killed (Saddam himself), that would clearly be worth the cost. George Galloway would disagree. Boo hoo for him.

We must kill the smallest number of Iraqis possible. We have to, or we are not just. If Saddam uses human shields to protect a target, we must yield and find another target whenever possible.

The ultimate arbiter of this question must be the people of Iraq themselves. If they look at the aftermath, count the dead, and thank us and say it was worth it, then it was worth it. This is not the only moral yardstick to measure the justice of war. But I think it answers Mr. McEwan's question best on its own terms.

How much are Iraq's civilians willing to pay to get rid of Saddam? Quite a lot. Today's Washington Post quotes Mustafa Ali:

We are ready to lose half our population, just for Saddam to be removed.

Mr. Ali can't speak for everyone in Iraq. But it's quite a statement nevertheless.

Claudia Rosett posts a message from a Northern Iraqi in the Wall Street Journal today.

Now, this UN business is really depressing me. Why can't they do the right thing? Many nations contributed to building this monstrous regime. Why not help to undo the damage inflicted on us?

The "No Blood for Oil" signs are particularly galling. Loads of Iraqi blood has already been spilled. At least half a million in the Iraq-Iran war, a couple of hundred thousand are estimated to have died in the Gulf War, a couple of hundred thousand Kurds disappeared in the 1980s, I have no idea how many Shias and Marsh Arabs and other Arabs against the regime have been murdered. Thousands of prisoners have also disappeared or been executed. The list goes on. It is enough.

Please send help. Everyone here wants this to be over. It is hard to imagine anything but celebrations if this monster is overthrown at long last.

Saddam Hussein is a genocidal imperialist. The cost of keeping him in place is the potential deaths of millions. Iraqi civilians know this better than anyone. Let them answer your question, Mr. McEwan. Their words mean much more than mine. There is no peace with Saddam, and there never has been.

Saw This One Coming

Guess what? Saddam loves the "peace" movement. And he isn't cooperating with the UN.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 19 -- President Saddam Hussein's government, apparently emboldened by antiwar sentiment at the U.N. Security Council and in worldwide street protests, has not followed through on its promises of increased cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors, according to inspectors in Iraq.


One U.N. official here said that since Friday's Security Council meeting, "we have not seen any positive moves on the part of Iraq." Another charged, "They are not fulfilling their promises."

Absolutely no one should be surprised.

No Words

Yesterday I wrote a few paragraphs describing how I feel about the "peace" movement. I decided not to post it. It was mean, it was nasty, and I would have regretted it.

It was then that I realized there are no words to properly describe what I think of their behavior. If I'm polite, I'll understate it. If I'm honest, I'll be an overreacting jerk.

So, what to do? Excerpt Christopher Hitchens. His reaction is much the same as mine.

DURING the many years I spent on the Left, the cause of self-determination for Kurdistan was high on the list of principles and priorities - there are many more Kurds than there are Palestinians and they have been staunch fighters for democracy in the region.

It would have been a wonderful thing if hundreds of thousands of people had flooded into London's Hyde Park and stood in solidarity with this, one of the most important struggles for liberty in the world today.

Instead, the assortment of forces who assembled demanded, in effect, that Saddam be allowed to keep the other five-sixths of Iraq as his own personal torture chamber.

There are not enough words in any idiom to describe the shame and the disgrace of this.

Christopher Hitchens at a loss for words? That's saying something.

The Brezhnev/Chirac Doctrine

Eastern European is not impressed with Jacques Chirac's little episode where he bullied them for siding with the US against Saddam.

Here is a typical response, from Mlada Fronta Dnes in the Czech Republic.

All Central European nations are used to the interpretations that some countries have more rights than others. They are also used to furious tirades, followed by tanks. If Chirac wants to revive the spirit of Leonid Brezhnev and renew the doctrine of limited sovereignty, which means fewer rights for some countries, it is his own affair.

Visit the BBC for more.


The glacial buildup to war is agonizing. It is the suspense of the Hitchcock thriller. A feeling of dread and doom cooked up to a slow boil. Then the explosive climax, the denouement, the unravelling of the knot.

When I click on the news, I expect to see something horrible. A chemical attack in London. A radiological attack in New York. A mega-attack in Tel Aviv or a missile thrust against Kuwait. A line of tanks thundering into Kurdistan.

Soon, very soon, the sky above Iraq will blacken with planes. But when? When can we get this nasty business over with?

The indispensable Steven Den Beste has the best educated guess I can find. Go read him today. Know what he knows. Watch and learn.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Earthquake

Earthquakes are the products of pressure and time. Nothing in particular sets them off, but the buildup to pop is inexorable.

Geopolitics are similar. Not fifteen years ago the world was divided between the East and the West, with the non-aligned Third World a staging ground for proxies. Then suddenly the Eastern world tore itself to pieces. The Western world expanded, the Third World took a breath, and Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History.

Hardly anyone saw the crackup of the East as inevitable until after it happened. But in hindsight, most historians said it was. Like geologists who study the earth for tectonic shift along faultlines, historians were able to pin down the weakness of the Soviets, and see how applied pressure knocked the empire down.

Earthquakes are triggered by a steady buildup of pressure. But they can also be triggered by taking a pressure away.

Look at the ongoing crackup of the West. Did we really expect the West to hold steady without any pressure from the East?

Here is Janet Daley in the Telegraph.

What an extraordinary amount of damage not going to war can do. The non-war with Iraq is destroying Tony Blair's premiership, undermining Nato, exposing the sham of European unity and re-aligning world power axes.

Without a shot or a missile being fired, ancient hatreds have been re-awakened, economies stalled and old alliances destabilised. Entirely contrary to the caricature of him as trigger-happy and reckless, George Bush played it by the rules. He went to the United Nations to make it legal.

As Tony Blair said at his press conference yesterday: "We didn't rush into war, we rushed into the UN." And while the UN has been pootering around doing its thing, the historical vacuum has been filled with the sound of recrimination, disillusionment and mutual loathing - not between the countries that might be fighting one another but between the ones that are supposedly allies.

Character traits that were once the stuff of nostalgic satire - vain, self-serving French and brash, artless Americans - are now the serious currency of diplomatic relations. The world will look very different after this war has been fought - and it certainly will be fought, as even the posturing French know. It will not be the wham-bam seven-day wonder of the fighting itself that will bring about this altered global state.

The most tumultuous changes in the world order since the collapse of communism will have been caused not by the actual event of a war, but by a succession of non-events, by a stream of self-important blather and desperate strutting, signifying nothing.

Jacques Chirac has gone from the simply arrogant to the pathologically offensive. He has alienated the Americans in a way that will not be forgotten for a generation. But he has also now insulted the new Eastern European accession countries for European Union membership with a recklessness that is truly breathtaking.

Wonder where all this will lead us. Down the road, in hindsight, it will all look as though it were inevitable.

The Big Picture

There is so much more to this war in Iraq than merely Saddam Hussein's weapons. Weapons of mass destruction are a significant part, yes, but nowhere near the whole story. The aftershocks, both good and bad, will be around for a very long time, both inside and outside Iraq.

British blogger Brian Micklethwait has a great piece today describing the wider objective.

Monday, February 17, 2003


British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell vows to bring down Robert Mugabe unilaterally.

This won't be the first time I've attempted to arrest Mugabe. Prior to the recent EU travel ban, he could visit Britain whenever he liked. Even after the massacre of 20,000 people in Matabeleland during the 1980s, neither Conservative nor Labour governments made any attempt to bar him.

Mugabe only stopped coming to Britain after four of us from the gay rights group OutRage! ambushed his motorcade en route to Harrods in 1999. Opening the door of his limousine, I seized him and placed him under citizen's arrest on charges of torture.


Enforcing the law against torture shouldn't be left to me. The governments of Britain, France and the rest of the world should be issuing warrants for Mugabe's arrest and extradition. He should be put on trial, like Slobodan Milosevic. I hope a Paris magistrate will agree and grant me a warrant.

Good luck, man.

Greater France

"Saddam, come here. You need a hug." - Jacques Chirac

We all like to make fun of French pacifism. But France is no pacifist. Nope.

When this photo wast taken, Chirac wasn't surrendering to Saddam, he was bullying Eastern Europe. Chirac is disgruntled that Eastern European countries joined the majority of Western European countries in standing with the United States against Saddam. Here is what he said.

It is not really responsible behavior. It is not well brought up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet.

He then threatened to keep Romania and Bulgaria out of the European Union if they didn't surrender to France's viewpoint. This despite the fact that Romania and Bulgaria are merely standing with the rest of the West against terrorism and fascism.

Some European blowhards (hello, Guardian writers) accuse the US of bullying Eastern Europe. But this is nonsense. We haven't threatened Eastern Europe with anything. It is the French who bully and treat the smaller nations as vassals.

This is the new French Imperialism. The EU as Greater France. Why do the French think Americans are imperialists? It is simple mirror-imaging. They look at us and think they see themselves.

Smoking Guns, Secret and Not

An old friend of mine in the Army Reserves wrote me today. He said he hopes what he now knows about Iraq is someday declassified so he can talk to me about it. What a tease. Damn!

So what could it be? What does he know that the rest of us don't?

Information that is already declassified is hair-raising enough. Here's a piece by former UNSCOM weapons inspector Bill Tierney, who thinks Saddam already has nuclear weapons. (Via LGF.)

I have seen enough to convince me that the Iraqis do have nukes, and I know exactly where they enriched the uranium to do so. For some time now, experts have said Iraq is moving towards a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Powell emphasized Saddam's intense desire to obtain a nuclear weapon in his presentation before the Security Council.

Just how much time must pass before people are willing to say the Iraqis have arrived? Even the skeptics admit that the lingering obstacle has been accumulating enough enriched uranium for a weapon. Without unambiguous evidence, most commentators are unwilling to make the call that the Iraqis have nukes. As a former inspector and intelligence analyst involved with nominating inspection targets, allow me to lay out my case that the Iraqis have succeeded.

If this kind of thing is in the public domain, what on Earth does Colin Powell (and my friend) know that they aren't sharing? Shudder to think.

Go read the whole thing if you want the details.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Put them on TV

David Akerman at Salon goes to the anti-war march in London and can't find a single Iraqi exile in the crowd.

There are several hundred thousand Iraqis living in Britain. I'd kept a sharp eye out, but didn't find a single one all day. Could they all be political dissidents? Later at home, on the 9 p.m. radio news, I learned that one BBC reporter had fared better. She had found an Iraqi citizen. A young woman living in London who had turned up to berate the marchers. “Everyone here is wrong,” she said. “Everyone in Iraq wants to get rid of Saddam, but they are realistic enough to know they cannot do it themselves.”

But on Saturday in London, it was a million-and-a half voices against one lone voice.

I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to be an Iraqi exile in the West right now. Thousands of people take to the streets in your name and scream vile obscenities, not at all what you want said in your name.

Someone in television journalism needs to find some Iraqi exiles on put them on TV. This will all get straightened out when the war is over and Iraqis can speak for themselves. But then it will be late. The "peace" movement and their quiet supporters need a 10,000 cc injection of Clue, and they need it now.

Not in Their Name

Dr B Khalaf, an Iraqi exile in London, responds to the anti-war marches in Britain.

I write this to protest against all those people who oppose the war against Saddam Hussein, or as they call it, the "war against Iraq". I am an Iraqi doctor, I worked in the Iraqi army for six years during Iraq-Iran war and four months during Gulf war. All my family still live in Iraq. I am an Arab Sunni, not Kurdish or Shia. I am an ordinary Iraqi not involved with the Iraqi opposition outside Iraq.

I am so frustrated by the appalling views of most of the British people, media and politicians. I want to say to all these people who are against the possible war, that if you think by doing so you are serving the interests of Iraqi people or saving them, you are not. You are effectively saving Saddam. You are depriving the Iraqi people of probably their last real chance get rid of him and to get out of this dark era in their history.

My family and almost all Iraqi families will feel hurt and anger when Saddam's media shows on the TV, with great happiness, parts of Saturday's demonstration in London.

You might think Dr. Khalaf is just speaking for himself. You could try to take his word for it. Or you can go read Johann Hari today and get the pulse of the entire country. Let's just say that when American and British troops arrive in Baghdad, they will be more than welcome there. Yes, the crowds will cheer. If you're one who thinks not, you will soon find out, and I hope you'll have the honesty to admit you were wrong.

The Soft Racism of Peaceniks

The word "racist" should be used sparingly. It is bandied about far too often these days, and hurled at political enemies like a McCarthyist libel. Nevertheless, some people really are racist. Like Trent Lott. And the peaceniks.

The racism of peaceniks is soft. It is not the hard racism of a David Duke, the warmed-up leftovers of Trent Lott's id, or the sly and covert racism of Pat Buchanan. Rather it is the naive racism of the elitist and the patrician, the well-meaning but arrogant attitude of the self-righteous who think they know what's best for people beneath themselves.

David Pryce-Jones articulates well what some of us in the hawk camp have been mulling over for some time.

Ignorance, fear and lack of respect for Arabs - these were the most obvious traits on display in yesterday's demonstration against a war in Iraq. Could so many people really think that it is better to leave Iraqis under Saddam Hussein's vicious tyranny than to liberate them from it?

Their protests suggest that it is not worth risking anything at all to free Arabs. To risk spilling a single drop of blood to liberate Iraq would be futile - not merely because it would be "destabilising" or "kill children", but because the Arabs have no capacity for "Western" freedom anyway. Behind the demonstrators' slogans lies the assumption that Arabs should be left alone: they don't mind being brutalised, tortured and murdered by a fascist thug like Saddam. Where they come from, it is the natural order of things.

That line of thought is nonsense. More than that - it is racist nonsense. No one knows better than the Arabs the horror of being oppressed. No one knows better than they that tyrannical oppression is all that they will get so long as Saddam and his family are in power. Saddam's despotism is not a denial of "Western" freedom: it's a denial of the freedom that every person needs to be able to live a worthwhile life. To imagine that the Iraqis don't want to be freed, or are not entitled to it, is simply to suppose that they are less human than us.

Every peacenik is sure to deny this charge. They are not consciously racist. They don't want Iraqis strung up from lampposts. But they don't know much of anything about Iraq or the people who live there, and they don't take the time to listen to Iraqi refugees in their neighborhoods.

Iraqi exiles don't go to anti-war marches. To the contrary, the vast majority of them are interventionist hawks. There is a reason for that, and the anti-war crowd should sit up and take note before storming the streets and deciding their fate in their name.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten