- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2005

For those of you who may be queasy about how the Bush administration approaches and prosecutes the war on terror I invite you to consider, for contrast, the mind-set toward foreign policy that springs from the liberal worldview.

Generally, consider the contrasting reactions of liberals and conservatives to charges against America. Specifically, I refer to the May 27 column of liberal media icon Thomas L. Friedman, Middle East ?expert? and New York Times columnist extraordinaire.

If anything, Mr. Friedman is often more reasonable than many counterparts on the left. He purports to support the war on terror, for example, though it’s interesting he insists he does so — as if conceding there’s a presumption liberals do not.

If you care to recall, Amnesty International just released its libelous report accusing the United States of abusing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The report came on the heels of the shameful Newsweek story claiming an interrogator at Guantanamo had flushed parts of the Koran down a toilet.

These reports immediately met strong skepticism among conservatives, who realize, as a policy matter, this nation bends over backward to accord the highest respect to the Muslim holy book and to treat prisoners of war — even terrorist suspects — more humanely than any other power in history. The transparency of our system would go a long way to ensure that, even if our moral code did not (though it does).

Most conservatives were outraged at Amnesty International’s inflammatory propaganda comparing Gitmo to a Soviet gulag, similar to their reaction to the indefensible refusal of France, Germany and Russia to support our action against Iraq, though their intelligence agencies were also convinced Saddam was amassing weapons of mass destruction.

The left had quite a different reaction. Just as they rushed to defend the corrupt French, German and Russian regimes, and even cited their recalcitrance as evidence the U.S. position was wrong, their knee-jerk response to the Gitmo reports was to presume American culpability.

Nor was the left convinced by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers’ denunciation of Amnesty International’s report as ?absolutely irresponsible.? Gen. Myers, after all, is the face of the U.S. military — and he works closely with evil Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. How can you expect the left to believe him?

Of course, the left was equally unpersuaded, and likely repulsed by Vice President Dick Cheney’s assurances Gitmo detainees ?have been well-treated, humanely and decently.? They bristled at President Bush’s characterization of the report as ?absurd? and his assertion ?people who hate America? were behind it.

Enter Thomas Friedman, whose May 27 column begins, ?Shut it down. Just shut it down. I am talking about the war-on-terrorism POW camp at Guantanamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under.?

Mr. Friedman conspicuously avoids mentioning the Amnesty International report in his column. Instead he cites the British, Australian, Canadian and German media. They are all talking about American mistreatment of prisoners, he claims. And they’re our allies, he says — as if their media love us.

It’s obvious Mr. Friedman instinctively believes the terrorists over the military that we are systematically torturing prisoners.

But Mr. Friedman focuses not on the torture reports’ veracity, but their ?toxic effect on us — inflaming sentiments against the U.S. all over the world and providing recruitment energy on the Internet for those who would do us ill.?

Mr. Friedman says we should put on trial prisoners against whom we have evidence and ?then simply let the rest go home or to a third country.? Some may come back to ?haunt us? he admits, but ?I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a whole new generation.?

But, Tom, the terrorists don’t need more fodder for recruitment purposes. They have plenty of ammo to generate hatred apart from spreading false stories about us. But assuming your analysis is correct, wouldn’t your energy be better spent turning it back on your comrades in the media?

If anti-American stories — true or not — stir Arab sentiment against us, then why no outrage at Newsweek for stoking the flames of hatred among Muslims against us? Why no horror at the left’s constant depiction of President Bush as deliberately fabricating our reasons for attacking Iraq?

Mr. Friedman, like many of his colleagues on the left, simply believes we can talk and behave ourselves out of this war, if we can just prove to terrorists and the rest of the world we are nice and peaceful people.

Thank God these appeasers aren’t running the War on Terror. And God help us if they ever do.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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