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February 25, 2003
THE VIEW FROM EAST TIMOR:
I still acutely remember the suffering and misery brought about by war. It would certainly be a better world if war were not necessary. Yet I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was drowning my people. We begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary.
So I follow with some consternation the debate on Iraq in the United Nations Security Council and in NATO. I am unimpressed by the grandstanding of certain European leaders. Their actions undermine the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator: the threat of the use of force. . . .
Abandoning such a threat would be perilous. Yes, the antiwar movement would be able to claim its own victory in preventing a war. But it would have to accept that it also helped keep a ruthless dictator in power and explain itself to the tens of thousands of his victims.
History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation. A respected Kosovar intellectual once told me how he felt when the world finally interceded in his country: "I am a pacifist. But I was happy, I felt liberated, when I saw NATO bombs falling."
Me, I'm pro-liberation.