WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While disagreeing most emphatically with
those suave European political leaders who are so reluctant to discomfit
Saddam Hussein with bombs overhead, I can sympathize with them. To be a
prime minister or a president or a chancellor in any of the European
countries, especially any of the Western European countries, is even better
than being a tourist on a thousand-dollar-a-day budget.
The Europols live the good life day and night: wine with lunch,
champagne with dinner and posh pageants in between. Europe's capitals are
the most relaxing places on earth, and the Europols have been relaxing there
for years, while Washington supplies the military security.
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair is the exception, but his
vow to stand by us in effecting a "regime change" in Baghdad is not
surprising. British leaders have perceived the danger of threats from
foreign brutes since Winston Churchill's forlorn warnings were validated by
Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939. Since then, there has not been a wimp
living at Number 10 Downing Street, with one or two question marks.
Britain is not, of course, the lotus land that, say, France is.
It does not have the soft breezes, the clear skies, the cafe society. For
decades, the rest of Europe has existed in suspended animation. Tom Wolfe
has suggested that the day will come when much of the Continent will be
transformed into a giant theme park for American tourists interested in the
quaint customs and manners of a distant time. The Europols could then charge
admission to their press conferences and public appearances. Maybe American
tourists could watch from behind see-through walls as Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder tucked into a meal fit for a Hapsburg.
During the entire Cold War, most of Europe's leaders were
playing the role of Neville Chamberlain, admonishing America against its
bellicosity. Even when Moscow sent troops into Hungary and Yugoslavia, most
of the Europols were more apprehensive about Washington's "cowboy" reaction
than about the communist guns pointed their way.
When President Ronald Reagan oversaw the final arms race that
bankrupted the Soviet Union and won the Cold War, they perceived only
recklessness on Washington's part.
Just a year or so ago, when President George W. Bush announced
his plan to proceed with development of a defense system against incoming
missiles, the Europols expressed dismay that such an urgently needed system
might drive the Russians to undertake a new Cold War. The Russians' annual
military budget hovers at around $7 billion dollars. Ours is in the
neighborhood of $390 billion dollars. Needless to say, the Russians took the
president's decision with equanimity.
The Europols will fasten upon any excuse to avoid following the
only logical course toward Iraq, knocking out Saddam. They like their
comforts and cannot imagine what Prime Minister Blair adumbrated this
week -- to wit, hijacked airplanes crashing into downtown Berlin, Paris and
London. The Europols' complacency probably explains why the Bush
administration has yet to announce that Osama bin Laden is a corpse. The
revelation would but give Europe another excuse for inaction on Iraq.
I have been arguing for months that the worms of Tora Bora are
treating the Rev. bin Laden as a crepe suzette, and it is heartening to see
my case gain support. The case was first made by the Arabist Mark Steyn in
London's Spectator. The gist of his case has been that the Islamic
blabbermouth could not possibly remain silent for all these months.
Moreover, with a $25 million dollar price on his head and his army in
retreat, even his mother might turn him in.
In July, the FBI's chief counterterrorism expert joined our
side, expressing his belief that the bearded cadaver was indeed a cadaver.
Now it has been reported in The New York Times that commanders in our
Special Operations units careening around dusty Afghanistan in pursuit of
bin Laden are of the opinion "he died in a bombing raid on one of several
caves that had been a target because American intelligence officials
believed they housed Qaeda leaders." The caves were in Tora Bora, and the
raids took place in December. I rest my case. Bon appetit to the worms.
I suppose there are two reasons for the administration to
refrain from reporting bin Laden dead. The first is as aforementioned, the
Europeans leaders would conclude that the war on terrorism was won, pat
themselves on the back for another splendid victory against tyranny and get
on with the good life. The other reason is that the European leaders might
pronounce his death a human rights tragedy, rise up in indignation against
American militarism and get on with the good life. Either way Europe will
It is up to us and to the Brits to end Saddam's nuclear,
biological and chemical threat, and to remind other tyrants in his
neighborhood that those who want war will get it.