- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

With millions of West Europeans recently marching in the streets protesting American foreign policy and with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy leading many in his party in opposition to the foreign policy of a Republican president, what student of contemporary history would not get a strong sense of deja vu?
On Saturday, Feb. 15, millions of Europeans marched through their capitals, protesting against war in Iraq. Police estimated 750,000 marchers at Hyde Park in London, 500,000 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 600,000 protesters in Italy and hundreds of thousands more in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona and scores of other European cities.
Meanwhile, in the United States, where protests were also held, Mr. Kennedy has introduced a bill that would require President Bush to obtain a second war-authorization resolution from Congress before launching a war on Iraq. With nearly six out of 10 Democrats in Congress opposing the first war-authorization resolution, which passed in October, Mr. Kennedy clearly speaks for a majority of his party as he did, almost calamitously, two decades ago
Twenty years ago, a similar multinational coalition comprising "peace-loving" Europeans and liberal Democrats in Congress aggressively worked to block a major international-security initiative pursued by Ronald Reagan and the governments of many NATO allies in Europe. The issue in 1983 involved the deployment of 572 U.S. intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Great Britain, West Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1979, NATO had authorized the installation of the U.S. missiles to counter the Soviet Union's ongoing deployment of hundreds of modern intermediate-range ballistic missiles, each carrying three independently targetable nuclear warheads aimed at European capitals and military bases. As the moment for European deployment approached and the Soviets refused to dismantle their missiles, Mr. Kennedy led a campaign in the United States for a bilateral nuclear freeze, which would have solidified huge Soviet advantages in first-strike strategic (intercontinental) and intermediate ballistic missiles.
In opposition to the deployment of U.S. missiles, millions of Europeans throughout 1983 took to the streets in protest. In February, the Green Party in West Germany conducted a "nuclear war crimes trial" in Nuremberg, where one witness declared, "NATO armies are no different than Hitler's armies." (Today, the foreign minister of Germany's ruling coalition is a member of the Green Party.) Over Easter weekend in 1983, more than 100 demonstrations occurred in West Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands. In early October, the British Labor Party resoundingly approved a resolution favoring unilateral nuclear disarmament. In late October 1983, two months before the scheduled deployment of the U.S. missiles, about 3 million Europeans protested in West Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. In November, West Germany's Social Democratic Party, which had overwhelmingly supported NATO's 1979 decision to deploy U.S. missiles in the absence of an agreement to dismantle Soviet missiles, completely reversed itself and voted 383-14 to oppose deployment.
In the United States, the nuclear-freeze resolution passed in the House with the support of nearly 85 percent of Democrats, including Dick Gephardt, Steny Hoyer and future (and current) Sens. Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer, Bill Nelson, Byron Dorgan, Tom Harkin, Barbara Mikulski and Ron Wyden. The nuclear-freeze issue failed in the Senate, but not before Mr. Kennedy secured the votes of current Sens. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Paul Sarbanes, Carl Levin, Max Baucus, Frank Lautenberg, Jeff Bingaman, Patrick Leahy, Ernest Hollings and Robert Byrd.
As history played itself out, President Reagan was proved right to pursue the deployment of U.S. missiles in Europe, which occurred in December 1983, and to reject a nuclear freeze. Mr. Kennedy and hundreds of his fellow Democrats were proved wrong to seek a nuclear freeze, and millions of Europeans were also proved wrong to oppose the deployment of U.S. missiles. Four years later, in December 1987, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, which fully adopted Mr. Reagan's "zero option" by eliminating all short-range and intermediate-range land-based nuclear missiles.
With such a poor track record on the life-and-death issue of intermediate-range nuclear missiles, the current anti-war positions espoused by European and American protesters and Democrats deserve to be considered with the highest degree of skepticism.


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