2003-03-01 / Editorial/Opinion

From the

By Howard Schwach

The old saying that "those who do not understand history will be forced to relive it over and over again," is considered to be trite in today’s world. Unfortunately, as with many trite statements, it is true.

War is often inevitable. In fact, those who study history know that there have never been a time in recorded history that there has not been at least one war going on somewhere in the world.

War is inevitable only because human nature is so predictable. There will always be somebody who wants to take over somebody else, or to destroy somebody else for political, religious, economic or cultural reasons. That is a fact of life that we cannot change.

Historians know that fact all too well. More people have died in the name of religion than for any other reason in recorded history. In second place, comes land. Third place goes to economic factors.

Those who have studied history will tell you that is no lie.

There are many, however, big in American life, who do not understand that fact.

Those are the people who are so opposed to a war with Iraq that they take to the streets, yelling slogans and carrying signs calling for peace.

Everybody is for peace. The question that has always been asked is "peace at what price."

There is another old saying, "Freedom is not free." That saying is also a truism that every person who studies history knows is a fact. Often, young people have to go to war to protect freedom.

There were those who did not want to fight against the fascists. They took to the streets and carried signs. Prominent among them was Charles Lindbergh, the man who had been the first to fly the Atlantic. He was a genuine American hero until he formed the "American First" party that quickly became an apologist for Hitler.

This weekend, I watched Susan Sarandon and Mike Farrell, two actors who I really like, make fools of themselves on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.

The two represent a group of actors and writers who oppose a war with Iraq.

Certainly, like all citizens, the two have a right to their opinions.

I have to question however, why anybody should listen to the opinion of two people who have made a fortune speaking words written by writers as they are told to do by directors? Should we listen to what they have to say about foreign policy simply because they have that skill?

The two kept repeating what they had been told to say, even though much of what they had to say was poor policy and erroneous history.

When that was pointed out by the one historian on the panel, neither knew what to say. They simply kept repeating what they were told to say in the first place, because they did not know what else to say.

If they were not movie stars, would they have been on the television show? Of course not. Did they have the expertise to speak about war in Iraq? Probably not.

George Clooney is one of the most popular actors in television in movies. Speaking on a German television show (what is the irony in that), Clooney said "you can’t beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead, you create an entire generation of people who are then seeking revenge."

"I think that he (Bush) believes that this is a war that we can win," Clooney added, "but there is no such thing anymore. We can’t beat anybody anymore."

Another expert heard from. I think that he has been in too many war movies such as The Three Kings. He is beginning to believe that a movie script is actually reality.

The great majority of the protestors fall into two categories: The young, who are motivated by the fear that they would eventually have to fight the war and those who remember Vietnam and the protests of the 60’s and 70’s. There are many who see those protests as the highlight of their lives, just as many who were in the military see that as a seminal time in their own lives.

Of course, there are some who are opposed to all war. One member of Congress, Janet Rankin, voted against both World War I and World War II. Those people are the most naïve of all.

Freedom must be protected and often the only way to protect freedom is to fight in its name.

To think that a war with Iraq would renew the draft or that it would become another Vietnam are both naïve thoughts by naïve people.

The pentagon shudders at a conscript army. That is the last thing that it wants. Only if the war lasted more than a year or so would a draft be necessary. That is not going to happen.

A war with Iraq would be more like Desert Storm that like Vietnam. It should be over in weeks, certainly months. Airpower will again be the key. You do not put conscripts in fast moving fighter aircraft.

The naïve refuse to believe that we are already in a war, that the destruction of the World Trade Center was an act of war just as clear as the attack on Pearl Harbor more than 60 years ago.

The City Council is poised to vote on a resolution opposing the use of force in Iraq. Perhaps they should all take a trip downtown to the site of the World Trade Center. The council will be defiling the memories of all those who died in those towers should they pass that resolution.

Perhaps Rockaway residents should contact Joe Addabbo and Jim Sanders to tell them how they fell about that resolution prior to their votes. It probably would be a good idea for the council to stick to things that they do so well, such as naming streets, and stay away from foreign affairs.

Farrell and Sarandon tried to make the point that there is no proof that the leadership of Iraq has ties with the terrorists who attacked us.

That is the most naïve assumption of all. To my mind, there is a clear trail not only between the terrorists and Iraq, but between the terrorists and Saudi Arabia and between the terrorists and Libya.

More people have died in the name of religion than for any other cause. History has taught us that since the dawn of recorded time.

Freedom comes at a cost. It is time to pay that cost once again. It will probably not be the last time that young people have to pay the price as they did in 1776 and in 1812 and in 1862 and in 1918 and in 1942 and throughout time.

That is a fact of life. Historians know it. Actors such as Clooney and others who have not studied history do not, and they may well live to regret that lack of knowledge.

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