In today's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed section, Jose Ramos-Horta, winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, writes about when war and the use of violence is needed:
...Perhaps the French have forgotten how they, too, toppled one of the worst human-rights violators without U.N. approval. I applauded in the early '80s when French paratroopers landed in the dilapidated capital of the then Central African Empire and deposed "Emperor" Jean Bedel Bokassa, renowned for cannibalism. Almost two decades later, I applauded again as NATO intervened--without a U.N. mandate--to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and liberate an oppressed European Muslim community from Serbian tyranny. And I rejoiced once more in 2001 after the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban liberated Afghanistan from one of the world's most barbaric regimes.
So why do some think Iraq should be any different? Only a year after his overthrow, they seem to have forgotten how hundreds of thousands perished during Saddam Hussein's tyranny, under a regime whose hallmark was terror, summary execution, torture and rape. Forgotten too is how the Kurds and Iraq's neighbors lived each day in fear, so long as Saddam remained in power.
Those who oppose the use of force at any cost may question why overthrowing Saddam was such a priority. Why not instead tackle Robert Mugabe, the junta in Myanmar, or Syria? But while Mugabe is a ruthless despot, he is hardly in the same league as Saddam--a tyrant who used chemical weapons on his own people, unleashed two catastrophic wars against his Muslim neighbors, and defied the U.N.
Saddam's overthrow offers a chance to build a new Iraq that is peaceful, tolerant and prosperous. That's why the stakes are so high, and why extremists from across the Muslim world are fighting to prevent it. They know that a free Iraq would fatally undermine their goal of purging all Western influence from the Muslim world, overthrowing the secular regimes in the region, and imposing Stone Age rule. They know that forcing Western countries to withdraw from Iraq would be a major step toward that goal, imperiling the existence of moderate regimes--from the Middle East to the Magreb and Southeast Asia.I am glad that he mentioned our (the world's) failure in Rwanda, and a similar situation is brewing in the Sudan. The U.N. needs to get involved in these crises or it will continue to lose what's left of it's credibility.
If those regimes were to fall, hundreds of thousands of Muslims who today denounce the "evils" of Western imperialism would flock to Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, seeking refuge. As in Iran, Muslims might have to experience the reality of rule by ayatollahs before they realize how foolish they were not to oppose these religious zealots more vigorously.
Fortunately that remains a remote scenario. If we look beyond the TV coverage, there is hope that Washington's vision of transforming Iraq might still be realized. Credible opinion polls show that a large majority of Iraqis feel better off than a year ago. There is real freedom of the press with newspapers and radio stations mushrooming in the new Iraq. There is unhindered Internet access. NGOs covering everything from human rights to women's advocacy have emerged. In short, Iraq is experiencing real freedom for the first time in its history. And that is exactly what the religious fanatics fear.
In almost 30 years of political life, I have supported the use of force on several occasions and sometimes wonder whether I am a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. Certainly I am not in the same category as Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela. But Mr. Mandela, too, recognized the need to resort to violence in the struggle against white oppression. The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics.
Some may accuse me of being more of a warmonger than a Nobel laureate, but I stand ready to face my critics. It is always easier to say no to war, even at the price of appeasement. But being politically correct means leaving the innocent to suffer the world over, from Phnom Penh to Baghdad. And that is what those who would cut and run from Iraq risk doing.
"It is always easier to say no to war" is correct because there are no immediate repurcussions for non-action.
Appeasement will cost more when action is finally required. Appeasement allows the decision to take action to become someone else's problem.