A Light in the Tempest

Peace is no longer a safe theological subject or an interesting intellectual debate. The country has had "victory without blood" and "heroes without cost." To talk about the peace movement now is to talk about the real thing. And it is dangerous.

Temper tantrums are now in store on every level. The United States stalled in Korea, lost in Vietnam, and smarted with frustration when it missed Gadhafi's Bedouin tent with an F-14 fighter plane. The United States became a laughingstock of the world when it launched an invasion of Grenada, one of its smallest islands, and looked powerless in Panama when it tore up the country but couldn't catch the one man we said we'd sent an entire army to capture.

The United States had become a weeping giant in the midst of Lilliputians. A vision of doughboys and liberators had faded. In its place had come the signs "Yankee, go home" and hostages and demonstrations at U.S. embassies, even in the countries of our allies. The people on the street wanted to feel good again. In a country where children are brought up on Rambo movies and Nintendo games, there is only one way to do that: "Win one for the Gipper; Remember the Alamo; Bash the Japs; Destroy the Huns."

The day after the Gulf war started, all moral critique of it came to a screeching halt in this country. The prestige of the president became more important than the sanctity of the human soul and the core values of the country. Patriotism became the new piety of the land. A Third World country that never stood to fight went down to the mightiest technological power on earth.

And in its dust went the peace movement. No cost to the United States but its integrity. The country that warred for freedom gave up a central one of its own -- freedom of the press -- and the country that inveighed against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein made the world safe for the feudalism of the Sabahs.

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