Back to Index

IRAQ: Comments by Siegfried Ramler

Siegfried Ramler sends me this: "My granddaughter, about to graduate from Lewis and Clark University, sent me photos of anti-war demonstrations around the world. I share my response: "Thanks for your e-mail with photos of anti-war demonstrations from around the world. I am searching for moral clarity in this situation and continue to struggle with a dilemma on what is the right course, both for the United States and the world community.

Let me give you a personal perspective. As a student in Austria and England, I experienced Hitler's rise to power and Nazi aggression, leading to World War II. Then, as now, there was a reluctance by European powers to face up to a dictator and there was a strong isolationist pressure in the United States. You may have read about Neville Chamberlain, Britain's prime minister in the 1930's, who travelled to Munich to appease Hitler shortly before Poland was invaded and the war started in 1939. In the United States, President Roosevelt supported Great Britain through the lend-lease program in face of domestic isolationist opposition - "this is not our war, let's not got involved" - until Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 and the United States joined the allies and played a decisive role in the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 and the liberation of Western European nations from Nazi aggression and occupation. As you know, I was involved in the post-war developments in Germany, particularly the war crimes trials at Nuremberg.

Since that time we have experienced challenges to peace in many areas around the world. The list is long and I will not enumerate all the responses to crises which have threatened peace. The list includes the still unresolved Korean conflict in the 1950's, the Cuban missile crisis where a potentially catastrophic war was averted by decisive intervention at the United Nations, the response to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the gulf war in response to the invasion of Kuweit, and the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And let me cite the massacre in Rwanda as an instance where we and allied nations have failed to intervene to stop that immense tragedy.

A rational review of post World War II history shows clearly that a steadfast and decisive response to bellicose dictators threatening peace is not only morally justified, but has demonstrably led to the ending of the cold war and to the resolution of many a crisis.

In light of the above, what is the right course in relation to Iraq? The dilemma which faces us is clear: appeasement of Sadam Hussein is dangerous, even disastrous, and the consequences of a war, even assuming that it can be brief, that large casualties can be avoided, and that Iraq can be liberated from a tyrannical dictator, may destabilize the region and spark hatred and continuing conflict around the world. While the administration has been unable to forge a strong international coalition to face Sadam Hussein, the fact remains that the United States is still the most effective guarantor of world stability, notwithstanding protest movements around the world".

Ronald Hilton - 2/24/03