Loose Canons

Nix Blix

Inspectors working under his inspection plan have as much chance of finding WMD as they do of finding Jimmy Hoffa.

By 12.2.02

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The Thanksgiving Day terrorist attacks in Kenya tell us a lot about how both sides are fighting this war. Now that Western nations have made it harder to hijack airliners, the terrorists will use shoulder-fired missiles to shoot them down, as they have other aircraft in Chechnya and Africa. As I pointed out two weeks ago this threat is one of the most serious we face, and one we could -- but aren't -- defending against. Determination and decisiveness characterize our enemies' actions but not, often enough, our own.

Just before the attacks, Palestinian "legislator" Nahed Alrayis wrote (in the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper) that U.S. policy toward the Arab and Islamic world leaves its peoples so hopeless that they will have no choice but to resort to suicide attacks against us. Just after the attacks, London's radical mullahs were preaching that Muslims in Britain were obligated by their religion to go to Iraq and fight against any American attack. There is absolutely no flexibility in the dogma of radical Islamists. Their rhetoric serves only to reaffirm their rejection of coexistence with us. The Palestinians and the London mullahs have nothing at stake in Iraq except their dogma. So they insist falsely -- just as Saddam does -- that ours is not a war against terror, but against Islam. That feeds their followers' dedication to the conflict. We cannot allow it to lessen ours. We can leave that to others, such as the Democratic Party and the United Nations.

Democratic presidential aspirant Sen. John Kerry wants to handcuff our foreign policy to the U.N. just as Lil' Billy did and Algore would. Last Sunday, Kerry said that he opposes an invasion of Iraq whose purpose is "regime change without regard to the legitimacy of the inspection process or the legitimacy of the United Nations process itself." Mr. Kerry -- a decorated combat veteran -- apparently learned the wrong lessons of Vietnam.

Kerry, like many other opponents of the coming Iraq campaign, believes that America should not act unilaterally. Even more wrongheadedly, he denies that Iraq poses any threat to us, saying America should go to war when it needs to, not when it wants to. Rather than have the United States deal decisively with terrorists and the nations that sponsor them, Kerry would have us sit idly by and fail to act without U.N. permission. Placing that restriction on U.S. action will be fatal to our ability to defeat terror, and may well be fatal to our nation. Either we act decisively, or we lose.

Occasions for decision arise often, and one of them will be next week. Under U.N resolution 1441, Saddam must disclose all details and locations of his weapons of mass destruction on Sunday, December 8. Saddam will either deny that he has any at all, or make a token disclosure that will still leave concealed everything of real value.

U.N. Chief Inspector Blix has his teams searching abandoned Iraqi airfields and factories and finding, well, empty airfields and factories. Not wanting to offend, Mr. Blix won't even attempt to search any of Saddam's "presidential sites" (where the WMD really are) before the December 8 disclosure deadline. Inspectors working under Blix's inspection plan have as much chance of finding WMD as they do of finding Jimmy Hoffa. Maybe less. The many weaknesses of Blix's operations are the result of the U.N.'s inability to act decisively. Mr. Kerry may be satisfied with this approach. It would be better for him to contrast it with how the Israelis and Russians respond when they are attacked.

Ever since his latest "Intifada" began, Yasir Arafat has tried and failed to draw other Islamic terrorists and nations directly into the Palestinians' campaign against Israel. Since it dealt with the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre, Israel's war against terrorism has been local. It's unlikely that Arafat, no longer a significant figure, conspired in the Kenya attacks. But his desired result has been reached. Those attacks, probably the work of al-Qaeda or its Somali subsidiary, Al-Ittihaad al Islamiya, have brought Israel into the global war on terror. But the terrorists may have miscalculated because the Israelis, and the Russians, act decisively.

After the Thanksgiving Day attacks, Ariel Sharon reportedly told Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, to make it his priority to find and kill the people responsible. Publicly Sharon said, "Our long arm will get the attackers." At about the same time, and less publicly, Bad Vlad Putin put out a contract on Shamil Basayev, the Chechen Islamic terrorist who claimed responsibility for the Moscow theater siege. Putin ordered the Russian FSB (the old KGB with a smiley-face painted on its logo) supported by Russian special forces into Chechnya to whack Basayev. When the Gipper sent the F-111s to visit Muammar Qaddafi after the Berlin nightclub bombing that killed Americans, the raid almost succeeded, and even in missing Qaddafi sent an unmistakably decisive message. In Iraq, and elsewhere, we need to act as decisively now as Mr. Reagan did then.

The December 8 "disclosure" by Saddam will result in calls for more inspections, more debates and more U.N. resolutions. Dubya has put us on a U.N. path that leads nowhere, and he must steer us off it very soon. After December 8, Mr. Bush will be faced with the unenviable task of again asking the U.N. to act to declare Saddam in material breach of the resolutions. The Russians, the Chinese and -- to be sure -- the French will do everything they can to thwart the material breach declaration. Mr. Bush will have to act decisively, and tell the U.N. that if it fails to act by mid-January we will act alone. No debate beyond that time, no failure to act decisively can be allowed. Mr. Blix will be sure to demand more time. But his time is now, not later. If December 8 comes and goes without the "palaces" being searched, it will be as much Blix's fault as Saddam's.

Islamic terrorists are dedicated to killing Americans anywhere they can, with whatever weapons they can obtain. We cannot defeat them by surrendering our decisions to the U.N. To defeat this enemy, we can show no greater hesitation to act than he, and can be no less determined. We must act decisively whenever the opportunity arises. For starters, Saddam delendus est.

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.