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The Peace-at-any-Price Peril By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Thursday, August 21, 2008


WAR doesn't change anything! How many times have we heard the claim from self-righteous leftists protected by their betters?

Tell the dead in Georgia that war changes nothing. Tell it to the 100,000 or so people driven from their homes. For that matter, tell it to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - he may finally crack a smile.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew to Brussels to huff and puff, but NATO isn't about to blow Putin's house down. We'll get an earnest statement of concern, the cancellation of military exercises with the Russians and an easy-to-retract suggestion that, just maybe (if the astrologers approve unanimously), there might be a place in the Atlantic alliance for Georgia and Ukraine in the distant future.

In an act of breathtaking daring, NATO ministers even put down their teacups and agreed to term the Russian invasion "disproportionate." Boy, Putin's scared now.

Meanwhile, Russian troops and their mercenary auxiliaries remain on Georgian soil - and the West doesn't have a single means of moving them.

War doesn't change anything? Wish it were true - but war has been humankind's preferred means of effecting change.

We're all - right and left - getting an in-your-face lesson about how the world really works. Passive resistance only has a chance when your opponent believes in the rule of law and respect for human rights. Gandhi was effective against law-abiding Britain, but he would've frozen to death in the Soviet gulag - if he'd lived long enough to reach the camps.

I'd love it if we lived in a world where war truly didn't work. But war does work. That doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue other means of resolving international crises - but effective idealism has to be grounded in a practical grasp of present reality.

To make the world a better place, we have to begin with a clear-eyed assessment of what kind of place the world is.

Putin just showed us what stirring words about democracy and freedom are worth in the face of tanks and combat aircraft. The Georgians had the noble ideas and lofty dreams; the Russians had the troops and ammunition. Guess who won?

Over the years, as I've tried to explain the human reality I've encountered, the leftist response has been "Shoot the messenger!" (presumably, with a water gun). When I wrote that a dangerous minority of men enjoy tormenting and killing others, the response was that I obviously believed killing was good.

I've never even kicked a cat. But the critics didn't want to face a reality that contradicts their pleasant campus theories. Berkeley radicals don't take midnight strolls through the toughest streets in Oakland. They know that some human beings are innately violent - but admitting it would be unbearable.

Does it really make you a warmonger if you recognize that war is the collective activity at which human beings are most adept? Does telling the truth make the truth-teller guilty?

In the twisted, pretzel-logic world of the hardcore Left, it does.

Well, what solutions does the war-doesn't-change-anything Left bring to the party now, in Georgia? We've seen how earnestly Putin & Co. take negotiations and cease-fire agreements, how carefully the Russians observe UN resolutions and international law. What measures should we take to remove Russia's boot from Georgia's neck? Send yet another diplomat or publicity-hound senator? They've done a great job in Darfur . . .

The bitter truth is, none of us can move Russia. Only force could do the trick - and, brutally put, we don't deem Georgia worth any serious risks. For the record, I don't think a military response at this point would do any good - only more harm. But the West has no alternative tools that impress the Russians.

Putin believes in force. Just because we don't share his values doesn't mean he's going to see the light. (Imagine a President Barack Obama pitted against Putin - the Left's new messiah would be gobbled up in one bite.)

Putin doesn't think we're naive fools. He knows it.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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