Each year thousands of activists converge on Washington, D.C., under the banner of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), an organization whose aims include, as its name suggests, stopping war and ending racism. This weekend, ANSWER voiced displeasure with the ongoing American occupation in Iraq. The group may actually be relevant this year, as it is becoming more and more apparent that President George W. Bush does not have a plan to successfully rebuild Iraq, a process currently costing American soldiers’ lives.
Before I continue with this, take a good look at my headshot. From it, you must be anticipating another mindless, fanatical, left-wing rant on the war in Iraq from some longhaired kid wearing a tie-dye shirt. Guess again.
At one point, I opposed the war in Iraq. While I knew Saddam Hussein was a maniacal tyrant willing to deploy weapons of mass destruction, I also felt we were being led down the path to war without leaving room for a peaceful solution. Once I saw France and Germany were obstructing progress toward a multilateral solution at the United Nations – merely using the organization as a stage on which to play out their envy and hatred of U.S. global power – I stopped opposing the war. At that point, I knew no peaceful resolution of the Iraq situation was possible.
During my period of opposition to action in Iraq, I attended an anti-war rally. Expecting to find people who shared my reasoned opposition to the war, I was sorely disappointed. The crowd regurgitated such platitudes as “Stop U.S. global imperialism” and “No blood for oil.” More signs equating Ariel Sharon to Adolf Hitler, denouncing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and calling for Mumia’s freedom were waving than those actually opposing the war. Disgusted and dejected, I left.
Unfortunately, this rally is indicative of the sorry state in which liberal dissent in America finds itself. Lacking a champion to rally around, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy, liberal ideology is poisoned when its only identifiable voice is that of directionless radicals protesting just for the sake of protesting. These fanatics lament the sorry state of the world but never suggest a way to change it. Liberal ideology has not prevailed when it is poisoned by complaints about how bad things are, but rather when the vision put forth by its leaders makes it so easy to see how great things can become.
The absence of a compelling, forward-thinking liberal leader is the reason America finds itself in the middle of this impassible quagmire. A pragmatic liberal would have gone to the country and said that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States and the world. A pragmatic liberal would have worked unceasingly in the United Nations to ensure the international community was on board. A pragmatic liberal would have exposed France and Germany for the frauds they are. A pragmatic liberal would have led the world to topple the despotic Iraqi regime. A pragmatic liberal would have assembled a real “coalition of the willing” to pay the burden to rebuild Iraq. A pragmatic liberal would have prepared the nation for the sacrifice necessary to win peace. Instead, liberal America was represented by extremists shouting nothing more than “Stop the war!”
It is no surprise that during times of great crisis America has turned to visionary liberals to guide the way. America called on Woodrow Wilson during World War I, Roosevelt during the Great Depression, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson during the height of the Cold War. America now finds itself in the middle of another great crisis; the world, suffering in poverty and destitution, sees America as an enemy rather than as a role model. There is no doubt that President Bush’s inept foreign policy and diplomacy has made this situation significantly worse. Yet in a time when America so desperately needs a visionary leader, no Democrat seems poised to assume this mantle. Democratic presidential candidates are trying so hard to get elected that they have neglected to provide a reason for the American people to vote for them. Liberals are desperately searching for someone to assume this rich tradition of leadership. We are tired of being grossly misrepresented in American society.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet contributing editor.