I WAS SO ANGRY, I ALMOST THREW MY SHOE AT THE TV. An entire nation had been subjugated, a people enslaved, their culture decimated, their vast wealth purloined by a totalitarian regime. The world stood by, the extent of its outrage limited to making angry faces at the aggressor.
I am not talking about Iran. I am talking about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. When George H.W. Bush finally ordered the liberation of Kuwait, it was over so fast that everyone was stunned. They called it the "100 hour war."
Kuwait secured, our army amassed on the Iraq border. "Go get him!" I shouted at the TV. "Get the maniac who started this whole thing!" But President Bush, himself a creature of diplomacy (he had been U.S. ambassador to China) refused to do the obvious. "That is not our U.N. mandate," he said in measured tones. The Left heaved a sigh of relief ("We are not aggressors!") and the Right chucked their footwear at televisions all across America in exasperation. And so our troops came home and over the next decade, Saddam Hussein murdered more than a million of his own people before we finally removed him, at great loss of American life and treasure.
No history lesson has ever been more indelibly etched on my consciousness: When evil threatens liberty, free men must fight.
History repeats its lessons often, so even the dumbest student will eventually understand. It is doing so in Iran at this moment. A revolution not unlike our own American revolution is struggling to get traction. People are rebelling against an oppressive regime, marching in the street, using social networks to organize (twittering on the Internet instead of placing lanterns in church towers), and risking their lives.
And what does our Blatherer in Chief do? After almost a week of silence, he finally mouths a few lofty sentiments but does nothing. It is left up to individuals, including thousands of American citizens, to create ersatz servers using cell phones, so Iranians can communicate with each other. Facebook users all over the world are changing their network to Tehran, so the government doesn't know they are outside Iran and thus shut their pages down.
Yesterday, I witnessed a small, pro-Iran march in Salt Lake City. Like their Tehran counterparts, most of the marchers were college-age kids. They were clean-cut and conservative in their dress, clearly from the right side of the political spectrum; ordinary kids who came out in support of freedom, not the usual special interest politics of the Left.
And where is the Left? Where are all the people who bombarded me with e-mail about genocide in Darfur? They are silent, because while the Left is full of compassion, it has no interest in actual freedom. It wants to save the starving child but not the angry young adult. The difference is revealing: the starving child cannot survive without the do-gooder's compassion; a true revolutionary wants only the tools to secure his own freedom -- he doesn't want your compassion; he wants a gun. Thus, his needs do not coincide with the true needs of the Left, which are about obtaining feel-good, self-congratulatory mantras to intone at the next faculty mixer.
Twenty years ago, Tianenmen Square in China presented the West with the same dilemma. Should rhetoric be our only weapon against oppression? What did we do to help the protesters in that communist country? Nothing. Many died then; many are dying today in Tehran. A million died in Iraq before we finally did anything.
And this time around it's a no-brainer, because Iran is not only ready for democracy, it is almost ready to explode a nuclear device over Tel Aviv. Nuclear capability is the reason we did nothing to aid the Tianenmen Square demonstrators. North Korea (where two generations of starvation has reduced the average height to just 5'2") continues its self-annihilation because it has nuclear weapons. Why don't my friends on the Left send me e-mails about genocide in North Korea?
History repeats itself. I just wish it would shout, because we are clearly deaf.
My TV's days are numbered . . .