Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763

Edward I. Koch

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Gulf War II: The misleading media does it again | "Operation Iraqi Freedom" began on March 19. The worldwide media, claiming that the 1991 Gulf war lasted 100 hours, are now proclaiming that the current war is a quagmire in the making and the Coalition's timetable is faltering.

However, the media rarely mentions that the 1991 war had two stages. First came 44 days of constant bombing of Iraqi military targets, particularly in Baghdad, followed by a land invasion from Saudi Arabia that lasted 100 hours before the Iraqi armies surrendered.

The current war began with a precision strike on a compound in a Baghdad suburb where our security agencies believed Saddam Hussein and his advisers were meeting. Immediately afterward, the Coalition infantry moved into Iraq from their camps in Kuwait. Contrary to alarmist press reports, the achievements of Coalition forces have been nothing short of phenomenal. In less than two weeks, they have reached the outskirts of Baghdad. They are mopping up rear echelon cities like Basra, Nasiriya and Najaf. They have opened Iraq's major port, Umm Qasr, and are now shipping in huge supplies of humanitarian aid for Iraqi civilians. American casualties consist of 34 dead in combat; 104 injured in combat; 17 whose whereabouts are unknown and 7 POWs. Every casualty is a tragedy, but no war can avoid them.

All this despite the fact that Coalition troops have been subject to horrendous violations of the Geneva Convention by the Iraqi military. Marine General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stated that the Iraqis "have executed prisoners of war." In fact, the Iraqis have shown on Iraqi television five U.S. soldiers in captivity and the dead bodies of at least five others, apparently executed, with bullet wounds to their foreheads.

Last week, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee that Coalition forces "face an adversary which has demonstrated its contempt for the laws of war -- dressing its forces as liberated civilians, sending them out waving white flags, feigning surrender, in order to draw Coalition forces into ambushes, using hospitals as a base from which to launch attacks and hiding behind human shields."

Prime Minister Tony Blair recently summed up his feelings: "Day by day, we have seen the reality of Saddam's regime -- his thugs prepared to kill their own people; the parading of prisoners of war; and now, the release of those pictures of executed British soldiers. If anyone needed any further evidence of the depravity of Saddam's regime, this atrocity provides it. It is yet one more flagrant breach of all the proper conventions of war. More than that, to the families of the soldiers involved, it is an act of cruelty beyond comprehension. Indeed, it is beyond the comprehension of anyone with an ounce of humanity in their souls."

On the same day, an estimated 300 people opposed to the war held what they called a "die in" on Fifth Avenue at Rockefeller Center condemning the U.S. when they should have been in front of the United Nations or the Iraqi mission on East 79th Street protesting the vicious, murderous, and illegal acts of the Iraqi regime. Who are these protesters? Their slogans and tactics are reminiscent of those employed by anti-globalization protesters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Seattle, Genoa, and Calgary and Windsor in Canada. In many of these worldwide protests, anti-globalization advocates have used violence, injuring police officers.

What will happen to the hundreds of protesters arrested in New York City and other American cities who engage in illegal acts to make their positions known? Many of those illegal acts fall within the definition of traditional non-violent civil disobedience, but others do not and are violent in nature. Whether non-violent or violent, protesters who violate the law should be required to pay a penalty.

Civil disobedience should not come free. In the case of a non-violent act, such as sitting down and blocking traffic, I believe a civil fine of $250., doubled with each successive illegal non-violent act, is appropriate. In the case of a violent act, depending on the severity, such as the use of pepper spray against police officers or striking a police officer, 30 days in jail sounds right to me.

Regrettably, in New York City the tradition has been for the DAs and the courts not to seek to impose any penalty, dismissing the cases "in the interest of justice," except in extreme cases. Now that we are at war and our soldiers are dying on the battlefield, hopefully DAs and judges will conclude punishment is in order. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Saddam Hussein seeks to terrorize us with atrocities, as he has his own people. He is desperately hoping that France, Germany and the Arab states at the U.N. will arrange a ceasefire. If that occurs, Hussein will have won the war. I can't imagine that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair will allow that. President Bush said that the war will last "however long it takes to win." New York Times columnist Bill Safire had it right recently, when he called for the Coalition to state that they will accept nothing less than unconditional surrender by Saddam. My thoughts and prayers are with our troops for a speedy victory.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.

03/18/03: Have the courage to admit it, Pat: You're a classic anti-Semite who gives conservatives a bad name
03/12/03: "There they go again"? Not quite!
03/05/03: Making the case for war on British TV left some panelists stunned
02/20/03: Death penalty=racism? Don't confuse them with the facts
02/12/03: History is now repeating itself --- why don't the American bashers grasp it?
02/05/03: As the world turns
01/30/03: Why are sports exempt from racial diversity and universities encouraged to engage in racial preferences over individual academic achievement?
01/23/03: We absolutely can't back down
11/13/02: President blunted the Ted Kennedys of Democrat party --- good for him!
10/23/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate is no private citizen and his 'defenses' are idiotic
10/01/02: Congress is not doing its job
09/26/02: Confronting pathetic Americans in a post 9-11 world
09/19/02: Don't be fooled by Saddam
09/05/02: Necessary or not, getting congressional approval for war is common-sense
08/28/02: In defense of terrorism
08/22/02: Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in "Arab street," so why attack him?
08/15/02: My potpourri
08/09/02: Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic'
07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat

© 2002, Edward I. Koch