In ratcheting up for the Iraqi takedown, President Bush has focused the mind of just about everyone. The American public supports him 2-1. Privately, most Arab regimes have told Vice President Cheney they are worried about Saddam's amassing of weapons of mass destruction; they are anguished by a high-placed Iraqi defector's testimony that Iraq may have nuclear weapons - in addition to the bio/chemical weapons he already possesses - by the end of the year.
Some - in Europe, in Congress, in the academy and the press - still prefer to fall for Saddam's rope-a-dope instead of to believe the Bush administration. They prefer to cry "wolf!" about Saddam instead of actually doing something about him.
Herewith, a conversation discussing miscellaneous aspects of the Iraq debate.
(begin ital) Q: Are you still angry about the Clarabelle antics and arguments of those opposing any action regarding Saddam?
I am. Particularly about Al Gore, who may have lost any claim to the Democratic presidential nomination with his fatuous suggestion Bush is exploiting Iraq to distract the nation from his administration's failure to capture and punish those responsible for 9/11. And about Jimmy Carter, who declared himself "quite concerned" the other day that Bush might decide to take on Saddam "unilaterally" - in other words, without getting clearance from the UN.
(begin ital) Q: Doesn't he need congressional and UN support?
He already has the support of the people. Congress soon will come along overwhelmingly; so, probably, will the UN. But with the American people behind him, both entities - especially the UN - are irrelevant.
(begin ital) Q: So Bush isn't acting politically?
Lefties will say he's acting politically, but he really is acting morally - doing what he has to do to destroy Saddam's weapons capabilities in the interests of this nation and mankind. That's why he had been making the case for the just war and the preemptive strike. If there turn out to be beneficial political consequences - e.g., a Republicanized Senate and a more Republicanized House in the midterm elections - then those simply are the ways the cookie crumbles for Democrats and the immoderate left.
(begin ital) Q: A lot of people who style themselves authorities on the just war - such as the archbishop of Canterbury - will tell you an Iraq attack would be immoral and illegal.
Why don't they just admit they are pacifists, opposed to (begin ital) all war? Why don't they just admit they prefer the "peace" of death and the concentration camp to any war, including wars of liberation?
(begin ital) Q: Fighting Saddam would be a war of liberation?
Yes, indeed. Liberation of the people of Iraq from Saddam. Liberation of the people of the world from the threat of nuclear or bio/chemical enslavement or death. It's the most persuasive sales pitch for taking down Saddam, and the one Secretary of State Colin Powell rightly used before Congress.
(begin ital) Q: Oh, come on. Powell may be a nice guy. But he's a lightweight. So is Condoleezza Rice .
Both of them happen to be black. Are you revealing your own racism? Condi Rice is so good, she would be a great vice-presidential choice for a second Bush term if Bush should decide he doesn't want to put Cheney's weakened heart to another four-year test. Condi for veep: Remember, you heard it here first.
(begin ital) Q: You're wandering from Iraq. Several days ago, Jordan's foreign minister, Marwan Muasher, said, "It is a scary notion that the (Arab/Muslim) region can be rearranged to fit the United States." He added: "You don't inject democracy through a syringe and expect it to work."
How does he know? Not Jordan - not a single Arab or Muslim state except Turkey - is even close to democracy. In May, Jordan itself jailed for 18 months the only woman ever elected to its parliament (Toujan Faisal) on four charges of lying "that hurt the state's integrity and honor" when she accused the monarchy of corruption. That's democracy with a vengeance.
(begin ital) Q: You don't put a whole lot of stock in the word of Arabs and Muslims, do you?
And for good reason. Jordan lectures us about democracy. The Saudis jerk us around on oil prices and basing privileges, and are only marginally cooperative in the investigation of 9/11 - when a hefty majority of the suicide-bombers were Saudis. If weasel-wording Yasser Arafat understood the meaning of truth, there likely would be peace with Israel now. If Saddam were a man of his word, he long ago would have destroyed his weapons of mass destruction instead of making more. And if the regimes in his neighborhood had any moxie, they would say publicly what they believe privately - that he is a menace - and would be leading the resolutions battle in the UN to urge what must be done.