It’s been a bad week for the Jane Fonda wing of the Democratic Party. The greatest loser is New York Times executive editor Howell Raines, who has moved heaven, earth, and his editorial page to make the Times the loudest media voice opposing President Bush’s policy to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. When Saddam’s latest “Dear Kofi” letter arrived at the U.N., and said that Iraq would accept the return of U.N. weapons inspectors unconditionally, it appeared that the NYT really was at the head of a resurgent anti-war pack. But it’s all been down hill from there.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan — who history will remember as the man who sold out the U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998 — promptly praised Iraqi cooperation. Annan told Hans Blix, new head U.N. weapons inspector, to take his time arranging to restart the inspections at some time and place convenient to Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. Dubya reacted promptly, saying that it was just another Iraqi ploy to buy time, and sure enough, the Iraqis proved him right in only about 48 hours. Saddam let it be known that he still won’t let the inspectors into his many “presidential palaces” where — according to intelligence sources — most of the weapons of mass destruction are researched, produced and stored. The U.N. — on the threshold of irrelevance — will go along with this charade if we let it. Mr. Annan, along with Russia, China and France who were complicit in his sellout of the inspectors, seems determined to let Saddam off the hook again.
Just as the Howell Raines Brigade was falling back from one defeat, President Bush’s team hit ’em again with the new “National Security Strategy of the United States.” The policy paper tosses bunches of carrots and sticks at our allies and enemies, putting together much of what the President has been saying since 9-11-01. It says preemptive action against Saddam and his ilk is necessary because deterrence doesn’t work, and because we cannot allow ourselves to be struck with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Our right to self-defense, it says, includes the right to preempt such attacks.
Saddened that they weren’t the first to sound retreat, the Aunt Pittypats of the Washington Post immediately fell into a terrible case of the vapors upon reading the National Security Strategy. The Post — with visions of Visigoths dancing in its head — said that Mr. Bush’s strategy “courts unseen dangers,” and smacked of “vigilante justice” in defiance of world progress toward “common understandings” about the use of force. Of course it does nothing of the sort, but does point out the consequences of some inconvenient facts. Such as the historic value and current uselessness of NATO, brought about by the failure of the NATO nations to invest (at the adult level) in their own defense, and by the European Union which still has delusions of military relevance.
Also last Friday, the President sent Congress a draft war resolution on Iraq, which would authorize the president to use all appropriate means to enforce the 1991 U.N. resolutions — including force — to end the threat posed by Iraq and to stabilize the Middle East. It was only a matter of time before the Jane Fonda Democrats found a chance to voice their opposition, and they did on Sunday’s talk shows. Among others, Sen. Carl Levin managed to get it wrong in a small way, insisting that the draft resolution was too broad and amounted to a blank check to strike any country in the Middle East. (Yeah, so?) But it took Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to get it comprehensively wrong.
Mr. Biden warned that if we attack Iraq, Saddam would do what he did in 1991, firing missiles at Israel, triggering an Israeli counterattack and igniting the region in an Arab-Israeli war. Mr. Biden, never one to get things wrong in a small way, opined that if Israel counterattacked none of our regional allies, even Turkey, would support us and that we would probably find every American embassy in the region burned to the ground in short order. Mr. Biden really should stay awake through all those Defense Department briefings he gets.
If he had, he’d know a few things that make his Sunday remarks seem awfully silly. First, Saddam obviously does plan to use his Scud-B missiles to throw chem/bio weapons at Israel if he gets a chance because he believes the other Arab nations will ride to his rescue. Which is why any version of our war plan will close what is known as the “Scud Box” in the first ten minutes of the war. The Scud Box — a small area in western Iraq — is the only place from which Saddam can launch the Scuds in relative safety. Unless Tommy Franks manages to throw tactical surprise away entirely by massing unneeded ground forces, we’ll close the Scud Box in the first few minutes of the campaign, and destroy all fifteen or so Scud launchers with special operations troops supporting stealth aircraft strikes. If it moves in the Scud Box, it dies. No brag, just fact. The other reason to think the Scuds won’t reach their targets is that we have already told the Iraqi generals that if they launch chemical or biological weapons at us or the Israelis, those few of them who are taken alive will be tried as war criminals.
Second, Ariel Sharon won’t stand by if our guys fail to get all the missiles and one or more get through. If chem/bio weapons hit Israel, they will respond in the exact same way we have said we would if a weapon of mass destruction hit the U.S. They will launch a nuclear strike. Our intelligence people say that the Israelis have an operational blueprint for just that situation. It’s important that we moot the need for such a strike, but whether we do or not, the Arab nations will not rush to make it an Arab-Israeli war for two simple reasons. First, none of them wants to die for Saddam. The Arab armies know they’re no match for Israel, far less for Israel fighting alongside Uncle Sam. If we and the Israelis are both taking the battle to Iraq, Saddam won’t last three days. And none of the others want to share his fate. As for our allies in the region, Turkey and Jordan will stay with us, and who cares about the others? Only Carl Levin, Joe Biden and the rest of those who are still fonda Jane. Saddam delendus est.
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