Why don't they fear us?
Debra J. Saunders
9/20/2002 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
Lefties love to pose this question: Why do they hate us? "They"
being not only Islamist terrorists, but citizens and leaders of countries
such as Iraq.
The real question is: Why don't they fear us?
Saddam Hussein doesn't fear us because, even in defeat, Hussein
found victory. He learned that U.N. and U.S. troops could flatten his front
line in a matter of days, bring him to the brink of defeat -- and then, when
any other army would have crushed him, invite him cry uncle and let him save
his sorry skin.
Months after Hussein lost the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and
agreed to U.N. demands that he "unconditionally accept" giving up weapons of
mass destruction and allowing U.N. weapons inspections, Hussein began
playing games and slamming doors. He understood that he could break his
word, with the mild downside being that he'd have to watch bombs drop on
Iraqi civilians (not him) and with the pleasing upside of increasing his
How he must have laughed at the world's major powers -- right up
until the moment when he effectively kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of
Iraq in 1998.
Now, Hussein's at it again. After President Bush made a
compelling appearance before the United Nations, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji
Sabri wrote to the United Nations announcing that Hussein would agree to
allow inspectors to return to Iraq "without conditions."
Note: The letter didn't say the U.N. investigators could inspect
without conditions. London's Evening Standard reported Tuesday that the
London ambassador of the Arab League noted that Iraq's civilian sites would
not be open to the inspectors.
Lucky for the world, Hussein would never hide a weapons cache in
a school or hospital. (That was a joke.)
So, why don't they fear us?
Because President George H.W. Bush withdrew troops in the
Persian Gulf War prematurely and then failed to support Hussein's enemies.
In his book, "The War Against the Terror Masters," Michael A.
Ledeen laments Bush pere's decision. Ledeen also writes of the decades of
U.S. intelligence failures that occurred because Washington didn't want to
know when our enemies were plotting against us. "America has a bad history
of leaving too soon and leaving things incomplete," Ledeen lamented.
You have to commend Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for not
laughing out loud when demonstrators interrupted his testimony before the
House with their shouts for U.N. inspections, not war. As if inspections
will work and make the threat of Hussein go away.
If there is no muscle behind the inspections, they are
worthless. If there is no certainty of military retaliation if Hussein toys
with the inspectors again (and he will), the inspections are worthless.
Or as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., quipped last week, "Saddam
Hussein is as likely to allow a robust and effective weapons-inspection
regime as I am to be the next astronaut."
Other senators have been wringing their hands, worrying about
what burdensome commitments the United States might have to make after
invading Iraq. The real worry, au contraire, should be that there won't be
enough follow-through -- enough real commitment -- after invading Iraq.
Americans should be worrying that Washington and international
politicians will keep America from finishing the job that began with the
Persian Gulf War. We shouldn't be afraid of commitment. We should be afraid
that history will record that we were too happy, or self-confident, or both,
to get the job done well.