Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was looking a little glum Tuesday night. Last week Kerry gave a speech saying: "Mr. President, do not rush to war!" Rush to war? We've been talking about this war for a year. It's been three months since Kerry duly recorded his vote in favor of forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.
In 1991, Kerry voted against the Gulf War, saying the country was "not yet ready for what it will witness and bear if we go to war." Having been taunted for that vote and that prediction ever since, this time Kerry made sure to vote in favor of war with Iraq. This will allow the New York Times to describe him as a "moderate Democrat" forevermore. Indeed, a surprisingly large number of Democrats voted for the war resolution last October. But as soon as the November elections were over, Democrats like Kerry began aggressively attacking the very war they had just voted for.
These Democrats want to have it both ways. If the war goes well – a lot of them voted for war with Iraq, didn't they? But if the war does not go well, many of the very Democrats who voted for the war resolution will have emerged as leading spokesmen for the anti-war position. A vote for the war, surrounded by Neville Chamberlain foot-dragging, is a fraud.
The Neville Chamberlain Democrats are now claiming they didn't realize what they were voting for. John Kerry says he thought a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq meant that the United Nations would have to approve. Dianne Feinstein said she voted for the resolution assuming it meant we would invade only if "our allies" approved. Joe Biden made the terrific argument that if we don't wait for U.N. approval, it would "make a mockery of the efficacy of the U.N." The Democrats appear to be the only people who still believe in the "efficacy of the U.N." In any event, I believe the United Nations should be more worried about that eventuality than we should.
Kerry claims he is still foursquare behind disarming Saddam Hussein, but not "until we have exhausted the remedies available, built legitimacy and earned the consent of the American people, absent, of course, an imminent threat requiring urgent action." As George Bush pointed out in his State of the Union address, dictators are not in the habit of "politely putting us on notice before they strike." By the time a threat is "imminent," Chicago will be gone.
That's the short version. The long version of Kerry's position is this:
"[I]f you have a breach that, by everybody's standard, at least in the United States, those of us in the House and Senate, and the president, join together and make a judgment, this is indeed a material breach, and then others – some of them can't be persuaded – if we have evidence, sufficient to show the materiality of the breach, we should be able to do what Adlai Stevenson did on behalf of the administration, Kennedy administration, and sit in front of the Security Council and say, 'Here is the evidence. It's time for all of you to put up. We need to all do this together.' And that's what I think the resolution that was passed suggests."
There's a rallying cry to unite the Democrats! If there has been a material breach "by everybody's standard," then and only then, we can boldly ... go to the United Nations! This is the fundamental problem of the anti-war movement. They can't bring themselves to say it's a mistake to depose Saddam Hussein, and "don't hurry" is not really a call to arms.
But why not hurry? Democrats claim they haven't seen proof yet that Saddam is a direct threat to the United States. For laughs, let's suppose they're right. In the naysayers' worst-case scenario, the United States would be acting precipitously to remove a ruthless dictator who tortures his own people. As Bush said, after detailing some of Saddam Hussein's charming practices: "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning." It's not as if anyone is worried that we're making a horrible miscalculation and could be removing the Iraqi Abraham Lincoln by mistake.
Either we're removing a dictator who currently has plans to fund terrorism against American citizens or – if Bush is completely wrong and Eleanor Clift is completely right – we're just removing a dictator who plans to terrorize a lot of people in the region, but not Americans specifically. Even for someone like me, who doesn't want America to be the world's policeman, the risk of precipitous action against Saddam Hussein doesn't keep me up at night.
The Democrats' jejune claim that Saddam Hussein is not a threat to our security presupposes they would care if he were. Who are they kidding? Democrats adore threats to the United States. Bush got a raucous standing ovation at his State of the Union address when he announced that "this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles." The excitement was noticeably muted on the Democrats' side of the aisle. The vast majority of Democrats remained firmly in their seats, sullen at the thought that America would be protected from incoming ballistic missiles. To paraphrase George Bush: If this is not treason, then treason has no meaning.