Keeps comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler. He...

GEORGE BUSH

November 28, 1990|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

GEORGE BUSH keeps comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler. He even said Saddam Hussein is worse than Hitler.

Saddam Hussein is pretty bad, but I don't think he's in Hitler's class. (Journalist Mark Shields says Kurt Waldheim told Saddam Hussein, "I knew Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler was a friend of mine. And, Saddam, you're no Adolph Hitler.")

In my view, Saddam Hussein is a second-level tyrant. I'd say he's another Mussolini. Of course, no one ever invokes Mussolini as a bogeyman. He's just not Hitler-hateful.

This time it looks as if the Senate will do it right. Hold the anti-war hearings before the war starts, not after, when it's too late.

Sen. Sam Nunn's Armed Services Committee began hearings yesterday on U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf. They are expected to provide a forum for opponents of going to war.

These hearings are similar to Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings held in February, 1966. Chairman William Fulbright provided critics of the U.S. military effort in Vietnam a forum then. But it was too late. By then U.S. policy had involved offensive military action by U.S. troops. Over 600 had already been killed. The nation was pretty solidly pro-war. More Americans identified themselves to the Gallup Poll as "hawks" (49 percent) than as "doves" (35 percent) even after the hearings and assorted other anti-war activities.

It was not till October, 1967, that a bare plurality (46-44 percent) of Americans said the war was a "mistake." The anti-war movement took off rather slowly in the Sixties. It began with a few "teach-ins" and public demonstrations in 1965-6, but it was not till 1967 that truly massive protests -- 100,000 or more in one place -- were mobilized. By then nearly 16,000 American servicemen had been killed.

Today's anti-war groups are, like today's Senate, getting a head start this time. There will be teach-ins at 500 colleges next month. The new movement was the lead and off-lead story on Page One of The Sunday Sun. Either as a columnist or a teacher, I've already received a letter from something called the 1990 Peace Button Movement which is soliciting students to display the old 1960s peace symbol.

This time the movement is starting out with public opinion on its side. Gallup hasn't asked a "hawk or dove?" question yet, but it just asked Americans if they "favor or oppose the use of force" in the Persian Gulf. They oppose it by 51 to 37 percent.

President Eisenhower once sort of called North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh "another Mussolini." When France was asking the U.S. to help it defeat Ho Chi Minh, Ike said, "We failed to halt Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler by not acting . . . in time."

But he was not beating the drums of war. He said he would only go to war in Southeast Asia if Congress gave him advance approval, which, a mere year after the cease fire in Korea, he knew it wouldn't.

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