Across our nation, and in fact the entire world, the countenance of Che Guevara adorns the t-shirts of thousands of peace protesters.
I have observed, both at St. Olaf and at the University of Minnesota, many people who are against a militaristic regime change in Iraq that are dressed in the above clothing.
These monikers represent Ches many accomplishments and his philosophy. But I have to wonder why anyone fighting for peace would ever, under any circumstances, wear a Che t-shirt?
The simple fact is that what Che did in Cuba was the antithesis of peaceful. Guevara went out of his way to violently change the regime.
What exactly is America planning on doing in Iraq? We plan on going out of our way to violently change their regime.
Is Cuba better now under Castro than it was under Batista? Generally speaking, yes. Cubans have a literacy rate that competes with America and have quite a healthy populous. None of which would be possible had it not been for an incredibly violent revolution.
Can we expect similar results in a democratic Iraq? Well, suffice to say that if a communist dictatorship can be an improvement on a fascist regime, a democratic republic, when compared to a fascist dictatorship, will be an indescribable amelioration.
Che, after defeating the current dictator, placed a new one in power. America has slightly different plans in Iraq, but generally there's little difference between the two situations.
In Cuba, Che Guevara came from Argentina and decided that the people were being oppressed. He subsequently took action to rectify the situation.
In Iraq, America is sending General Tommy Franks to not only liberate the people, but to protect the people of America from a perceived threat. I would argue that America's fight for Iraqi freedom is by far the more noble cause.
Che Guevara was a ruthless man. He once said "Hatred is an element of struggle, relentless hatred of the enemy that impels us over and beyond the natural limitations of man and transforms us into effective, violent, selective and cold killing machines. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy."
Che endorsed violence as a solution to vanquishing a brutal enemy. Saddam Hussein a brutal man, an enemy of the entire free world. Che, after committing over 2,500 extra-judicial killings of enemy prisoners, was quoted as saying: "Judicial evidence is an unnecessary bourgeois detail."
Che Guevara is far below the United States on the issue of human rights and justice: why would anyone support an immoral and unjust Che Guevara and not a moral and just United States?
If Che was in the Middle East today, what would he do? I think the evidence is clear: he would use as much force as humanly possible to liberate the people of Iraq just as he liberated the people of Cuba.
What the United States plans to do is Che style justice without the wanton disregard for the judicial process. America has the noble intention of installing a democratic government.
I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. I do, however, have a General Tommy Franks T-shirt coming in the mail. I support democracy and freedom not dictatorships and lawlessness.