March 4, 2003

Jackson gives dictators cover

Once again the Reverend Jesse Jackson manages to grab a microphone and completely miss the target. By his own claims, Jackson is directly responsible for the freedom of more than 603 prisoners and victims due to his (always unsolicited) interventions with enemies of the human race--Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein.

But what about the other tens of millions of people tortured, murdered, raped, and oppressed due to these three nefarious characters? Does Jackson not share some responsibility by providing these dictators good international PR by giving them cover as legitimate and reasonable leaders?

In addition, Jackson claims that "[Hussein's] not a threat to Iran, to the Persian Gulf, or to Europe...Iraq is no threat to its neighbors unless it is attacked." On what basis can Jackson make such an obviously, demonstrably false pronouncement? All the evidence of decades of Saddam's rule in Iraq stands directly in opposition to this view. Iraq has invaded Iran and Kuwait without provocation in this time. In addition, Hussein has also gassed, tortured, raped, and killed millions of his own people since seizing power. Are the Iraqi people not as worthy of our concern and care as the people of Kosovo and Bosnia were? As the victims of the Holocaust were? As the people of America are?

Jackson and so many others who attempt to use God and religion overlook something in the claims they make related to the lack of justification for war. That is that the punishment of evil and the restoration of something wrongfully taken (the freedom of the Iraqi people in this case) are part of the classic Just War theory originally put forth more than 1600 years ago by St. Augustine in the City of God and extended by many other theologians since then.

In the words of Michael Kelly (Washington Post, February 26): "I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications of, America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?"

Freeing the Iraqi people is an enormously difficult task--but to punt the hard work to future American administrations or to other nations is grossly irresponsible. It didn't work when Chamberlain appeased Hitler before World War II, and it probably made things ultimately worse.

Our national bird isn't the ostrich, and pretending the problem isn't there or isn't so bad won't make it go away--and it never has. Likewise, Jackson's wishful thinking that "we must live together" in this world with madmen like Hussein and Milosevic is folly.