- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

The hook on John Lennon's antiwar song was "all we are saying is give peace a chance." And it was a nice thought, an easy sentiment to sing. But in these days of terror, Lennon's song seems sadly outdated to most Americans as some polls show 90 percent in support of military force against the terrorists and their sponsors.

Although the dissenters to military action are small in number, they are loud. Phil Donahue and his brethren passionately advocate a measured response to the attack on America and want the proper "authorities" to handle the matter. Mr. Donahue, for example, wants the people who ordered the mass murder to be tried in a "world" court. He also wants a "coalition" of nations to band together and decide what strategies should be employed in apprehending the Osama bin Ladens of the world.

Well, no offense to Belgium or anything, but the terrorists attacked the United States of America. And, according to our Constitution, the mandate of the federal government is to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, [and] promote the general welfare."

This is one of the main reasons why we have a federal government to protect us from foreign bad guys. Nowhere in the Constitution is a world court mentioned or any kind of coalition. It's a shame Phil Donahue didn't live 225 years ago maybe he could have gotten that stuff in then.

The issue of U.S. military action is so clear to me that, at first glance, I was amazed at what the dissenters were putting out there. But by looking deeper into the dissent movement, a more vivid picture begins to appear.

Recently, I interviewed a man named Woody Powell on television. He is the president of the Veterans for Peace movement. In the course of the conversation, it came to light that Mr. Powell believes the United States has exploited the Third World economically thus, the citizens of those countries have a legitimate right to despise us. Mr. Powell wants America to correct worldwide economic injustice in order to solve the "root causes" of the terrorism problem.

This sounds swell but, of course, is a pipe dream. Look, America has exploited me economically. It takes more than half of my take-home pay and gives it to people like Boris Yeltsin and some drug addict who won't work. It isn't fair, but that's life. I have no right to kill or hurt anybody because I don't like the system.

Most dissenters have other agendas running. Some, like Phil Donahue, are wide-eyed idealists who believe they can reason with fanatical killers. They would be singing "give peace a chance" while a blade crossed their throats. Others are socialists, or anarchists, or just people who hate any kind of central authority.

I have always thought Jane Fonda's strident anti-American views in the Vietnam era were more about the resentment she had for her autocratic father than they were against perceived injustices to the Viet Cong. It was telling that when the Khmer Rouge murdered more than a million Cambodian civilians, Miss Fonda said nothing. If Jane was really so worried about innocent people dying in Southeast Asia, she should have got over to Phnom Phen.

But a well-thought-out protest is as rare as a kickboxing Quaker. There are millions of Americans who simply don't like their country. In times of trouble, these people can be counted on to take a point of view counter to the establishment, but often their protest has little to do with any one issue.

The truth is that ideology and misguided beliefs dominate some people. They simply are unable to think clearly. This attack on America was so savage and so unnecessary that any response short of annihilating the perpetrators is not only inappropriate, it is unconstitutional. The American people give our elected leaders power in order that they will "insure domestic tranquility."

How tranquil are you feeling these days?

Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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