PHILADELPHIA -- Last weekend, I attended the anti-war march in downtown Philadelphia. I asked everyone I met to explain to me how they planned to protect the world from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
I came away with a blank yellow note pad.
Those in the peace camp were quick to criticize the war but excruciatingly slow to provide an alternative. Are they planning to stick their heads in the sand and leave Saddam Hussein in power? Will they allow him to continue building weapons of mass destruction and keep their fingers crossed that he doesn't use them?
Obviously, the peace protesters are just as opposed to his regime as the rest of us. They accurately point out there are tremendous human and economic costs involved with waging war. But somehow they manage to ignore that there are even greater costs in not removing Saddam Hussein from power. Tony Blair gave us a stark reminder of this last week, saying, "If there are 500,000 on that peace march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for. If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started."
And as none of the anti-war marchers could offer any contingency plans for what we should do if inspections fail, I put together my own top ten list of "peaceful" ways to disarm Saddam.
10. Keep passing U.N. resolutions, using increasingly larger font sizes for the words "serious consequences."
9. Call the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
8. Ask Uri Geller to really focus on Baghdad.
7. Delay Iraq's promotion to chair the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.
6. Invite Saddam to star on the next series of "The Bachelor."
5. Boycott Iraqi restaurants and Iraqi periodicals.
4. Try Saddam in absentia for war crimes with Judge Judy presiding. Send him the verdict by certified mail.
3. Announce Saddam as the winner of the Publisher's Clearing House $10 million jackpot, and grab him when he poses for the check with Ed McMahon.
2. Give Saddam the Nobel Peace prize (that one worked for Yasser Arafat).
1. Send Michael Jackson and his vicious finger-eating chimp Bubbles to Baghdad on a goodwill mission.
In all seriousness, anti-war marches are no laughing matter. They can, and do, have deadly repercussions. Sadly, many of the well-intentioned peace protesters are blinded by idealism and their own aversions to the use of military force. And perhaps most tragically, the protesters are inadvertently making war more likely, not less likely. This results from giving Saddam Hussein hope the free world will once again shirk its responsibilities and refuse to take military action against him.
Saddam is counting on the peace protesters to wear down the willingness of the world to fight. In November, according to Newsweek, he told the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbou, "No doubt, time is working for us. We have to buy some more time, and the American-British coalition will disintegrate because of internal reasons and because of the pressure of public opinion in the British and American street."
I still remain hopeful that our objectives can be accomplished without the use of force. But Saddam Hussein is a man who has already ignored an astounding 18 U.N. resolutions. U.N. resolutions carry no weight or credibility with him. The only way he will voluntarily disarm is if he feels he has absolutely no other choice.
And convincing Saddam we're serious this time requires the entire world to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and tank-to-tank, making clear to him that he will be disarmed by force if he doesn't disarm voluntarily. Only then will we have achieved a credible threat and the possibility of achieving our objectives without the need to fire a shot, preferably by scaring Saddam into exile.
What part of the phrase "credible threat" don't the peace protesters understand? I sincerely hope that at the next anti-war rally, we don't see a counter-demonstration with placards reporting, "Guns don't kill people. Peace protesters do."