The response to my 4/11 article “Postwar Delusion at Yale” was overwhelmingly positive. In that article we summarized the teach-in at which several Yale professors expressed hate-filled, irrational and illiberal opposition to the liberation of Iraq.
I received over one hundred e-mails, many from American veterans, with encouraging messages such as this one, from a former Special Forces officer:
"Great Job! As a former Special Forces officer (our motto is “De Oppresso Liber”—To Liberate the Oppressed), I would be proud to serve again to man the barriers that protect and encourage the development of the future leaders of the human race, such as yourselves. Keep it up and be Semper Fidelis to your keen observation and reporting of the truth."
I received similar comments in messages from all over the United States. It is perhaps no surprise that the only negative response we received came from a Yale professor. His response sheds light on the degeneration of the anti-war movement in the face of events that have dramatically refuted each and every one of the cardinal arguments of the movement and on the drastic and growing divide between academia and the American public. To the extent that this professor’s are representative of those made by the leading opponents of the war in Iraq, it is safe to say that we can declare not only a military victory in Baghdad, but also an intellectual victory on the home front.
In his message to me, the professor first attempted to defend the veracity of his colleague’s charge of a Jewish conspiracy to promote the war. For good measure, he threw in the predictable condescending jab at Vice President Cheney’s former employer. The professor asks:
“Does it make one an anti-Semite to point out that the neo-conservatives mentioned keep Israel’s security in mind when advocating policy, and they have been influential in this campaign? Do they have exclusive influence on the administration? Of course not. The president, VP, and Rove have to answer to Halliburton and Bechtel first and foremost.”
It is not necessarily anti-Semitic to argue that Bill Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Charles Krauthammer keep Israel’s security in mind when advocating policy. But is there any evidence that Kristol et al. have in fact supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein based on consideration of the national the interest of any country other than the United States?
The only reason the teach-in crew and the professor argue the contrary is that Kristol, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Krathammer are Jews. This is the contemporary variant of the classic anti-Semitic imputation of dual-loyalty that used to have its home on the far right of the American political spectrum. It is an ugly phenomenon with an ugly history. And it sounds no better from the mouths of Yale professors now than it did from the mouth of Charles Lindbergh on the eve of World War II, and it is equally false.
The professor then asked:
“Do people who are pro-war feel ‘vindicated’ by 100+ American deaths and 1000+ Iraqi deaths? I can’t help but think that these people were alive 6 weeks ago. Then, indeed, you are much tougher than those who oppose the war.”
The only context in which such an argument makes sense is an argument in favor of pacifism, in which case the argument is more widely applicable than he suggests, and would undermine the war against Hitler among others.
While proponents of the war are certainly tough and dogged in the defense of the United States, the anti-war forces must be pretty tough themselves to oppose the deposition of a tyrant who attempts to assassinate a former U.S. president, who poses a major security threat to the United States, who murders 60,000 babies per year, who rapes women in the designated “rape rooms” in each of his palaces, who orders the removal of the front-teeth of his son’s aide with pliers, who unleashes chemical gas attacks on his own people, and who beats a woman for two months in front of her own father then kills and dismembers her, leaving her bones in front of her father’s house. The defense of such a tyrant is worse than tough. It’s evil.
But the professor was just warming up. He next objected to our labeling of Saddam Hussein’s regime as “Stalinist,” wondering whether Saddam had “some large-scale program, redistributing oil money to the Iraqi people that I don’t know about.” It is astonishing that a political science professor from Yale University associates the term “Stalinist” with some benign “wealth redistribution,” rather than with totalitarian tyranny. The professor is apparently unaware that Stalin imprisoned, tortured, and murdered virtually all of his real and imagined political opponents.
He is apparently unaware that Stalin rounded up hundreds of thousands of peasant farmers, forcibly stripped them of their possessions and property, loaded them onto rail cars, and dropped them off at the end of the Trans-Siberian railway, thereafter to fend for themselves in the wilderness. He is apparently unaware that Stalin developed a cult of personality to rival those of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. He is apparently unaware that Stalin, like all Soviet dictators, hoarded wealth and privilege for himself and other high-ranking members of the Communist Party. Has he never heard of or read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.
The professor is obviously unaware that Saddam Hussein was a self-professed admirer of Stalin, that he devoted entire rooms in his palaces to Stalin, and fashioned his physical appearance after Stalin’s. From the giant statues, to the huge palaces, to the gassing of Kurds and the draining of southern Iraq’s marshlands, to the torture chambers, rape rooms, and children’s prisons, Saddam was, if anything, a “Mini-Me” of Stalin, limited in the scope of his oppression only by the size of the territory he was able to control. That an educator at an elite institution of higher learning would display such receptivity to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and ignorance of history is a sad commentary on the state of the anti-war movement and of leftist academia. But that the arguments of an educated, articulate Yale professor are utterly vacuous is evidence both of the growing estrangement of liberal academics from the American public at large and of an intellectual triumph of the pro-war forces over their most intelligent and formidable opponents.