Skip to comments.Those seeking a 'smoking gun' had better hope they don't get it
Posted on 02/03/2003 12:44:26 PM PST by GailA
COLUMN: M.D. Harmon
Those seeking a 'smoking gun' had better hope they don't get it
Copyright © 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
The United States and a constantly increasing number of allies are coming closer and closer to holding a despicable tyrant responsible for his past actions and rendering him unable to continue them both at home and abroad.
So, some people are upset. An entire dovecote of "anti-war activists" (at least for this war, and for this president - they were far less dovish when Bill Clinton attacked Serbia) is chirping its alarm over the fact that we have a president who understands that his principal task is the protection of our lives and interests.
Their exaggerations are so many, and their contact with reality so flimsy, that's it's hard to know where to start to hold them to account. Let's start with the big rally that was held in Washington last month.
I have a friend who lives in northern Virginia, a retired State Department officer who loves his country and who protested the Vietnam War in the '60s. Seized with serious doubts about the president's plans for Iraq, he crossed the Potomac to see if the rally would support his qualms.
He hasn't changed his mind about Iraq, but he was aghast at the march. Here's what he e-mailed me:
"I went to the March for Peace for three reasons: to register my anti-war views, and to voice my views on administration policy, and to show my niece and nephew (who came along) that the United States is a peaceful country with millions of citizens united for peace. But then I saw with my own eyes the hypocrisy and vicious hatred that so many marchers had for America. Mike, those people were openly anti-American. I saw it with my own eyes. You could cut the anti-Ameri- canism with a knife. . . . The ANSWER event was not a peace march - it was a virulent anti-American march. . . .
"For the demonstrators there is some kind of moral equivalence between us and Saddam."
Not terribly surprising, considering that ANSWER, the group that sponsored the march, is affiliated with an unreconstructed hard-left Marxist fringe that in the past has expressed admiration for the murderous Joseph Stalin, dictator Kim Jong-Il of North Korea and war crimes indictee Slobodan Milosevik.
Oh, but the marchers didn't necessarily support that? OK, think about who would go to a civil rights march sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan, and then wonder why ANSWER's sponsorship was fine by those attendees.
Next, there are all the people who keep demanding more proof that Saddam Hussein has both evil intentions and the means to carry them out. True, there have been no Cuban-missile-crisis photos - yet - but there are at least two major talks they haven't heard yet, either. One will come this Wednesday, when Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks to the United Nations, and the other will come after that, when President Bush addresses the nation again.
Anybody who doesn't think Saddam is a threat both to his neighbors and the West has not been paying attention - deliberately, I believe, because U.N. inspectors themselves say he has tons of lethal stuff he won't account for - but those speeches should satisfy all but the same people who attended the "March for Peace."
What is truly dangerous is the demand by some that they must see a "smoking gun" before they'll back Bush. In that, they show less support for America than the leaders of Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic, who sent a letter last week proclaiming "New Europe's" strong support for Bush. France and Germany had better start worrying about the perils of unilateralism.
In truth, what would a "smoking gun" be? Well, it might be a mushroom cloud forming over Manhattan; or a radioactive "dirty bomb" ex- ploding a few blocks upwind of the Capitol or the White House; or letters full of finely milled anthrax being sent not to a few congressional offices but to hundreds; or a thousand vials of smallpox infecting tens of thousands of people, with a death rate of 30 percent or more among the unvaccinated victims.
Folks, we don't need those kinds of smoking guns. We don't even need them drawn from their holsters. We may not be able to find each and every member of al-Qaida yet, but as the president said Tuesday, we've found a number of them, and they won't be bothering us any more. Their leader, Osama bin Laden, hasn't been reliably heard from since December 2001, and could be among the group Bush mentioned.
It's no easy decision to go to war, and I even have some sympathy for Bill Clinton, who has been strongly criticized for not dealing with terrorism and Saddam after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and subsequent terror attacks abroad.
But that was all prior to Sept. 11. We've seen two of our tallest buildings fall in fire and ruin, seen people jump from the 80th floor because that was better than being incinerated in their offices, seen our military headquarters lethally attacked.
Still, you may want more than this. If you're patient for a week or a month, I think you'll get it.
Myself, I've seen and heard enough. Saddam delendus est.
- M.D. Harmon, an editorial writer and editor, can be reached
at email@example.com or 791-6482.
Iraq is working hard to produce those wildcards even as we speak. Are we going to let them?
Ultimately you have to decide what course of action is going to have the highest probability of leading to a desirable result.
IMHO, doing nothing in Iraq has a zero probability of leading to a desirable result. They will continue their efforts and eventually get to the point where they cannot be dealt with without massive loss of life on both sides. It is inevitable that left to his own devices Iraq would have the bomb, and the will to use it, as they have demonstrated time and again.
On the other hand, war has a fair probability of leading to a stable post-Saddam regime in Iraq, provided it is handled carefully and thoroughly. A post-Saddam Iraq, reconstructed under US control to a US design, can be the cornerstone of a more modern, less radicalized Islamic world. Much as or former enemy Japan is now the strongest bulwark of liberal democracy in the Far East, and Germany is the democratic heart of Europe.
This will be hard work, and it will be expensive in both blood and treasure. But I don't see how we have any choice. Unless we are willing to resign ourselves to 500 years of increasing Jihadi violence, armed with ever increasingly powerful WMDs, we have to act to change the course of the Islamic world now.
The way to change the course of the Islamic world is to plant the seed of liberal democracy in the sandy soil of the Middle East, and nurture it while it grows. But before you can plant, you have to turn up the weeds that are in the field. Saddam's regime is the weed. The US Military is the harrow.
Then what are we worried about?
Secondly, please explain to the rest of us how it is Bush would have been politically or logistically prepared to launch a war in Iraq last January. I'd like to hear that one. The fact is, he is always going to have advance warning because we have to deploy, deploy, deploy in order to have enough men and material in place for a mass attack halfway around the world.
We're the world's only superpower, remember?
We had forces in place in the region, in Afghanistan, in Saudi Arabia, in Turkey...hitting him while he wasn't looking would have been much easier than it will be now. And he wouldn't have had a chance to position his WMDs for use against our troops (although that apparently doesn't worry you).
We have forces that are trained to be on the ground and mobilized with 48-96 hours. We could have had the full-scale everyone is clamoring for within a week.
One of the greatest factors in any war is surprise, and that is gone.
I would rather have a president like we have who is willing to take risks to do what is right and in our interests than one who is willing (even eager) to sign agreements with despots that aren't worth the paper they're written on just to avoid doing something potentially damagin to his precious legacy.
You mean like the useless one we are negotiating with North Korea?
I'm worried about him giving them to the fanatics like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. They have no problem disseminating them anywhere. His generals have been duly warned not to launch any WMD. I don't think they're one and the same. Do You?
Yes, that one. Of course, President Bush is now negotiating with Pyongyang to build them some new nuke plants as long as they promise not to use them for weapons manufacture. Sounds like Sister Carter and Bubba all over again.
But the GOP lemming crowd will accept it; after all, Bush is a Republican.
You're right. Maybe thermonuclear war with China is the way to go.
No, Saddam is not a fanatic, and neither are his generals. As for the other whackos...since Saddam got them from the US, and China, and Russia, and France, and North Korea...why can't the others? Are we going after them next, or are we just concerned with the middleman?
And I don't share your lack of concern over Saddam's likelihood to use his WMD when the US invades. He's been in power for 30 years, in a rough place to stay in power for such a long time, and will not go down quietly. Since he has no real conventional forces to speak of, and he IS going to get invaded, he and his generals (all family members from what I understand) have nothing to lose by using them. We have put him in such a position where he has no choice.
Well, the threat of thermonuclear (or thermonukular if you're President of the US) war certainly kept the Soviet Union in check, until they collapsed of their own weight.
And exactly how are Seoul and Tokyo going to handle a nuclear-armed North Korea?
Maybe we want to give the Japanese nukes?! Oh yeah, that's a good idea.
If we let North Korea go nuclear, the Japanese are not going to just sit on their hands. They will not wait for nuclear protection from the US. They will build it themselves.
In the last war we took the soldiers that Iraq gave to us.
Iraq had too many conscript soldiers under arms. The war with Iran was over, and it was either use them or let them out of the army and back on the street.
Saddam's problem was that with a million former military men on the street, his lifetime would be best measured in days, not years. Most people don't realize that the preciptating event of the Somalia imbroglio was the end of the long-standing Somali/Ethiopian war, and the return of the Somali conscripts from the front. As soon as those troops hit Mog, it was over for Barre.
So what to do?
You can't just shoot them. There are some things even Saddam cannot do.
But you can have your enemies shoot them. You can line them up like bowling pins in the desert and let your enemy's tanks run over them.
Saddam had a conscript army he needed to kill. The US was happy to oblige.
But he kept the Republican Guards in reserve. These loyal troops serve him still.
Don't know. Don't much care. It's their problem not ours, and when forced to face the issue, they will do what they have to do. There is not one thing in the far east that is worth the life of a single American soldier.
I think you are awfully naive, but I hope I am proved wrong.
What would the US do then?
Fortress America it is then. Well, at least you're consistent.
Might I venture to say that a four-way nuclear-armed standoff between China, South Korea, Japan and North Korea might not be an optimal outcome?
Radioactive dust drifts even into the Fortress, don'tcha know...
But none of this has anything to do with Iraq.
You remember Iraq.
This song's about Iraq!
And we got twenty-four 8x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it is...
Radioactive dust drifts even into the Fortress, don'tcha know...
Technically, in a standoff, no one fires.
Right, Iraq...what happens after Iraq? How long are American troops going to be stationed there? A month? A year? Forever? I'd put my money on the last.
And of course, we still have two-thirds of the Axis of Evil; how are we going to deal with them?
THAT's my whole problem with this (and it was my problem with Clinton's efforts in the Balkans): the goals are ill-defined, there is no exit strategy and there are only vague long-term plans. It's an open-ended war.