As protesters rang in the fifth year of Operation Endless Bloody Occupation with demonstrations around the country, Fred Thompson lashed out at that favorite whipping-boy of all chicken-hawks: Mahatma Gandhi. To follow Gandhi's example, he admonishes anti-war activists, would cripple our foreign policy. Like Dubya who recently tried to compare his quest to that of General George Washington, he is completely misunderstanding the lessons of history. Will these angry white men never stop painting themselves and the country they've commandeered as noble underdogs? Oh the righteous anger of the enfranchised!
What the "Law & Order" star doesn't appreciate is that in any Gandhi analogy, we would be the British Empire, not India.
Here are some words of wisdom from the mediocre actor. (Yes. I'm still smarting from the loss of Steven Hill.)
The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi’s way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won’t cut it in this country. When American’s think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein.
Gandhi probably wouldn't approve, but I can live with that.
What both the right-wing hawks and the left-wing peace movement don't get about Gandhi is that he was really a tactician and a master of asymmetric warfare. He knew India could never have defeated the British Empire in open combat and their violent uprisings were resulting needless deaths. Gandhi's strategy made their deaths effective. It was a strategy with two major prongs: economic (boycotts) and military (peaceful civil disobedience). Passive resistance leveraged the morality of the British occupiers. You can only slaughter so many peaceful, unarmed people before your stomach starts to turn from the shame of it.
Thompson also misrepresents Gandhi's role in WWII. While it is true that Gandhi recommended to the British:
I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions.... If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
He was also a pragmatist:
At every meeting I repeated the warning that unless they felt that in non-violence they had come into possession of a force infinitely superior to the one they had and in the use of which they were adept, they should have nothing to do with non-violence and resume the arms they possessed before. It must never be said of the Khudai Khidmatgars that once so brave, they had become or been made cowards under Badshah Khan's influence. Their bravery consisted not in being good marksmen but in defying death and being ever ready to bare their breasts to the bullets. [emphasis added]
Lest we forget that Gandhi, ever the politician and tactician, was using his possible support of the British as a bargaining chip, twisting the arms of his nation's occupiers.
After lengthy deliberations, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied in India herself. As the war progressed, Gandhi increased his demands for independence, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. This was Gandhi's and the Congress Party's most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from Indian shores.
Fred Thompson should worry less about Code Pink's identification with Gandhi. What should concern the war party would be the possibility that a leader of Gandhi's stature and tactical acumen could emerge in Iraq.