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Anti-war Doom and Gloom
January 11, 2003

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Martin Sheen goes on the "Today" show and spouts leftist nonsense. Ramsey Clark wants to dress up in a Hans Blix outfit and search the White House and Naval Weapons Yard for WMDs. All this is going on just before a possible military encounter.

Some of the same folks on the left that kept quiet during Clinton's Monica bombings are now piercing everyone's eardrums. We've heard them before.

The major networks are putting forth their best anti-war critics while slighting the war backers. The liberal media are acting like they're in pre-war panic mode. Get ready, America. The reports of doomsday are multiplying as we speak. Check it out.

  • The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War recently predicted that an invasion of Iraq could lead to casualties as high as 250,000 within the first three months, even without the use of nuclear or chemical weapons.

Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for the affiliated International Physicians organization, told the Toronto Star, "We're saying that there'll be a very large short-term impact and an even more profound longer-term impact."

  • The New York Times dutifully confronted the White House with the prediction of the anti-war doctors and reported that it was not in the least bit troubled.
  • The U.N. is predicting a humanitarian disaster if any military intervention takes place in Iraq.

Barbra Streisand once sang about those "misty watercolor memories of the way we were." It's time that we pull some of those memories out of storage. When we do, we'll find the very same pattern of pessimism preceded the liberation of Afghanistan.

Baghdad Jim McDermott and Kofi Annan voiced their misgivings. In fact, numerous prophets of doom were warning us from media pulpits. They said that because Afghanistan was a tough land of craggy mountains and stark deserts, where battle-hardened guerrillas whupped Great Britain and the Soviet Union, the U.S. would suffer the same fate.

Fred Weir wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: "If the United States is preparing to assault Afghanistan to retaliate against the alleged organizers of the New York and Washington terror attacks, Russian experts have one piece of advice: Don't go in on the ground. 'Afghanistan is a quagmire that is easy to enter and very hard to leave,' says Irina Zvegelskaya, an Islamic expert and vice president of the independent Center for Strategic and Political Studies in Moscow. 'If the US commits itself to changing things there, or propping up a particular government, it will be the beginning of a long, painful and very costly story ­ just like it was for us.'"

Shades of '60s boomer anxiety were apparent ­ a Vietnam déjà vu all over again, right down to the "q" word.

After the fighting started, the leftist media alert system became even shriller.

On Oct. 27, 2001, PBS's Dan Schorr told Americans that "this is a war in trouble."

The following day, Maureen Dowd wrote of our Afghani foes, "Now, like the British and Russians before him, [President Bush] is facing the most brutish, corrupt, wily and patient warriors in the world, nicknamed dukhi, or ghosts, by flayed Russian soldiers who saw them melt away."

The New York Times pulled a kind of Halloween prank on the nation with a headline that read "A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam" and an R.W. Apple column that told us "signs of progress are sparse."

On Nov. 4, 2001, Jacob Heilbrunn of the Los Angeles Times assessed our prospects in this way: "The war effort is in deep trouble. The United States is not headed into a quagmire; it's already in one. The U.S. is not losing the first round against the Taliban; it has already lost it."

On Nov. 8, 2001, the New Republic criticized the Bush administration for "relying on ... airpower, proxies and Special Operations forces. ... These three instruments have gotten us exactly nowhere."

The next day, USA Today reported that "military experts increasingly are coming to the same conclusion: Airstrikes and commandos won't be enough to rout the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network."

In the Nov. 19, 2001 issue of the Nation magazine, columnist Katha Pollitt wrote: "A protracted war with a determined, hardy foe that draws in Central Asia, enrages the Muslim masses and destabilizes Pakistan or Indonesia or another country to be named later? Is World War III worth it if it gets people planting victory gardens and giving blood?"

The war in Afghanistan was over so quickly, we barely had time to hold the forecasters of misfortune accountable. When they resurrect their hackneyed phrases from the annals of liberal antiquity ­ which they undoubtedly will ­-we'd be wise to take their words with a few thousand grains of salt.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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