The Blog

War Hypocrisy

We're shocked--shocked!--to find Iraqi soldiers ready for chem and bio warfare, the left AWOL on American POWs, and the French happy to see bad things happen in the war.

6:15 AM, Mar 26, 2003 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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LAST NIGHT American forces discovered atropine stashes in a hospital that was being used as a headquarters for Iraqi forces. The day before, they discovered chem suits and cipro on an Iraqi officer. Why would Saddam spend money on these protections for his military? He knows the United States won't use biological or nerve agents against him. The only reason for Iraqis to be equipped with these protections is in case Saddam decides to use chemical or biological weapons. (You'll remember that for the last 18 months Saddam has insisted that he doesn't have any of these WMD.)

Any leader who weighs his options and allows expedience to determine whether or not to use these weapons isn't the type of man who should be allowed to stay in power. But then again, we knew that.

Likewise, the surprised outrage over Iraqi treatment of American POWs strikes me as dumb. Of course Saddam Hussein isn't going to hew to the letter--let alone the spirit--of the Geneva Conventions. If he was the type of ruler who treated the Geneva Conventions as sacred, we probably wouldn't be at war with him.

All of which serves to highlight a major difference in worldviews between liberals and conservatives. Liberals like international agreements and believe the world can be run through multilateral diplomacy. Conservatives believe that agreements are only needed to tame the type of people who won't adhere to them. This is the foundation of conservative opposition to the Kyoto accords and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It's also part of the reason we are now at war.

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Speaking of POWs, has anyone seen members of the antiwar crowd protesting Saddam's treatment of the captured U.S. soldiers? I haven't. International A.N.S.W.E.R., the group which has organized most of the major protests in the United States, makes no mention of the American POWs on its website. Michael Moore's site is also silent on the matter, although he spends quite a bit of time rhapsodizing about the death of Rachel Corrie.

Indymedia, to their credit, does deal with the issue. An article on Indymedia posted by André Traça first denies that Iraq is violating the Geneva Conventions, then says the American treatment of Iraqi POWs has been just as bad, and then goes on to decry the treatment of al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

It's a good reminder that not all anti-Americanism is principled.

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Earlier this year Reps. Charles Rangel and John Conyers proposed bringing back the draft. Noting that both Rangel and Conyers voted "no" on the House resolution of support for our troops in Iraq, reader John Sonbaugh writes, "Why do they want more soldiers when they can't even support the ones we already have?" Good question.

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And if you think Rangel and Conyers are bad, get a load of the French.

On Monday, the front page of Libération carried a headline decrying "The failures of a lightning war." Le Figaro carried an editorial headed, "Neither shock nor awe."

As Charles Bremner reported in the London Times: "France 2, the state television network, reported from London yesterday that 'fear is now beginning to set in among a large part of the (British) people.' The main commentary on France-Inter's equivalent of the BBC Today programme said that the allies had committed the serious error of underestimating their adversary. 'They have lost the information battle to the extent that the communiqués from Baghdad are often more credible than those of Washington,' it said. 'More than that, they are in danger of defeat in the battle for opinion.'"

Bremner concludes his excellent dispatch with this wry bit: "A weekend newspaper poll found President Bush to be the most unpopular leader. He is disliked by 84 percent of the French, and Tony Blair by 75 percent. Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, is admired by 71 percent and President Putin of Russia by 47 percent. Opinion was not sought on Saddam Hussein."

That's probably for the best.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard.