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Bush's Victorious Dutch Visit By: P.J. Costello
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 23, 2005

It was not exactly a warm welcome. On May 7, one day before President Bush arrived to celebrate Victory in Europe Day with the Dutch, throngs of hostile demonstrators poured out onto the streets of the Netherlands. Some brandished “WANTED” posters bearing the president’s image; others proclaimed that he was guilty of “crimes against humanity;” still others convicted him of “crimes against the planet.” The more ambitious types petitioned Dutch courts to have the president arrested as soon as he set foot in the country.

Liberal media outlets played their part in the unwelcoming committee, portraying the demonstration as a thousands-strong backlash against a hated president. “Thousands Protest Bush Dutch Visit,” screamed headlines. In reality, as an Associated Press dispatch revealed, only about 2,300 protestors had taken part. Moreover, from this writer’s view in Maastricht—the first Dutch city to be liberated by American forces during World War II—even the 2300 figure seemed like a stretch.

Whatever their actual number, all the demonstrators had at least one thing in common: none of them seemed to appreciate the relevance of the allied powers 1945 triumph over tyranny to today’s War on Terror. What is lost on those who hoisted posters accusing president Bush of crimes against humanity because he “started a war with Iraq,” is that Britain and France (belatedly) declared war on Germany for at least some of the same reasons that the U.S. and its allies fight today’s war. Nor do they appreciate that, in ousting the regime of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. and its allies have accomplished the same thing as the Allied powers 60 years ago: the liberation of people from tyranny’s grip.


That this connection eludes the demonstrators is not surprising. By incessantly denouncing President Bush as a war criminal, the demonstrators can ignore the facts about the tyrant he helped topple. They can ignore the fact that Saddam Hussein gassed 5,000 of his own people—the Kurds of northern Iraq. Similarly, they can turn a blind eye to the fact that Saddam Hussein committed genocide against the Shiites of southern Iraq. Shrilly assailing the aggression of the United States, they can avoid all mention of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, a brutal annexation of Iraq’s defenseless neighbor. Declaring the United States the greatest threat to world peace, they can pay no mind to the fact that Saddam Hussein sponsored terrorism against Israel, then boasted about it, and that evidence strongly suggests he had ties to al-Qaeda. At the same time, they can gloss over the fact that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranians, and that the precursors of these weapons, as were the vast majority of Iraq’s conventional weapons, were mostly supplied by the Europeans, not the U.S. And as they vocally rage against the U.S. for its alleged violations of international law, they can keep silent about the fact that it was Saddam Hussein who for 13 long years defied 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions. Saddam Hussein the war criminal? You won’t hear them admit it.


The Dutch demonstrators’ other charges against President Bush were equally without merit. Take their claim that he is guilty of “crimes against the planet.” This rests on the U.S.’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Set aside for a moment the fact that this agreement, cheered by environmentalists with a near religious fervor, is based on uncertain science and uncertain results, including uncertain economic consequences for the United States. If saving the planet is genuinely their aim, why is it that these demonstrators could not be troubled to condemn Saddam Hussein’s egregious acts of environmental terrorism in torching the oil fields in Kuwait? Why, for that matter, did they have nothing to say when Hussein, determined to punish the Shiites for rising up against his autocratic regime drained the swamps in the south of Iraq, thereby destroying wildlife and depriving many of their livelihoods? Indeed, an uncharitable observer might suggest that these environmentalists were more interested in saving Saddam than saving the Earth.


A double standard is clearly evident. In the warped minds of the leftist demonstrators, Saddam Hussein should be free and the president of the United States should be in prison. How else to explain the fact there have been no similar calls for the arrest of anyone from Belgium or France for arming the Hutus, and thus directly aiding the slaughter almost one million people in Rwanda? Nor have Europe’s demonstrators called for the resignation of Kofi Annan for receiving advance warning of this slaughter and doing nothing, even though that geographic area was his responsibility at the time. Of course, with many media outlets marching in ideological lockstep with the left-wing demonstrators, we’re unlikely to see this hypocrisy exposed anytime soon. And so be it. For all the doting coverage of a sympathetic media, the fact remains that the only thing the demonstrators have accomplished is waving a few posters around.


On May 8, many of us, if only in spirit, stood with President Bush at Margraten cemetery as he honored American soldiers killed while battling to liberate Europe. The occasion recalled another liberation by American soldiers—that of Iraqi citizens from one of the world’s worst tyrants, Saddam Hussein. It is well to remember that, had Europe’s left-wing demonstrators gotten their way, it would never have come to pass.


P.J. Costello is a journalist centered out of the Netherlands and receives feedback at feedback-pjc@hush.com.

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