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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 25, 2003

Sending A Dangerous Message To The Enemy

The War Room is a tactical guide for conservatives and centrists in framing issues that divide our nation and affect its future. It is published by David Horowitz of FrontPageMag and this is the second issue.
If the Nay Sayers Prevail: The most important fact about the looming war situation in Iraq is that there are 150,000 American troops in the Gulf and counting. Since we cannot maintain a standing force (or a credible threat) through the Arab summer, the most important question to bear in mind is this: If we withdraw our troops without disarming Iraq, what are the consequences? What message will an American retreat send to terror regimes like Iran and North Korea, or ambitious dictatorships and rival states like China and Russia? What credibility will we have as a world power? The successful war in Bosnia, the failure to rescue the Rwandans, and the impotence of UN resolutions on Iraq all serve to demonstrate that the "will" of the "world community" is effective only if American power makes it so. If America retreats now, how will the "international community" secure the peace against any future threat?

Containment: We could, of course, provide "more time" for Saddam to do what he hasn't done for the last 12 years in response to 17 toothless UN resolutions. The more we delay, the more deadlines we slip, however, the less reason for Saddam to comply. While we practice containment and wait for his about face, we would have to keep 150,000 troops in the Middle East through the hot desert summer. During the heat, they are unable to fight because they require heavy gear to protect them against chemical warfare. In other words, we already know that Saddam will use chemical weapons against our troops (and thus that the UN inspections are a charade).

The economic consequences of the delay required by a policy of containment are not difficult to predict. The markets are already depressed; the uncertainty that has prevented an economic recovery will continue and probably intensify, particularly if there are terrorist attacks during the long wait. And there will be terrorist attacks, we just sit and do nothing.

The bottom-line, therefore, is this. If the nay-sayers and containment advocates prevail, we will have lost the second Gulf War with repercussions that are daunting to contemplate.

The Breakdown of Bi-Partisanship: Two presidents (Clinton and Bush) have asked for and received congressional authorization to remove Saddam Hussein. There have been bi-partisan majorities for the two congressional resolutions (1998 and 2002) calling for regime change in Iraq and supporting the use of force to remove the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. But now that the die has been cast, and 150,000 troops have been committed to the war zone, the bi-partisan front has begun to crack, and it is this crack that is sending an alarming message of weakness to our enemies.

Two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have criticized the current commander-in-chief, and signaled their support for containment or retreat. The significance of their public opposition to the war policy of the White house is underscored by the fact that it represents a break with two fundamental and long-standing American traditions: Until now ex-presidents have avoid criticizing the policy of sitting presidents. Opposition parties have agreed to end partisan politics at the water's edge. During the Balkans War many Republicans strongly disagreed with the Clinton Administration war policy and with the war itself. But the Republican leadership - led by Senators Dole and McCain and House Speaker Gingrich - gave the Clinton policy their support. In the face of the enemy, Americans were united. Not so now.

Division In the Face of the Enemy: Every Democratic presidential candidate with the exception of Senator Lieberman has followed the lead of Clinton and Carter in withdrawing their support from a policy their party voted overwhelmingly to support. The result of their defection is shown by a recent New York Times poll. Whereas in 1998, the Democrats led by Bill Clinton voted for the Liberation of Iraq Act, which called for a "regime change" as an indispensable step towards peace, and did so with few dissents, and whereas the majority of Democrats in congress voted to authorize war powers for President Bush to use against Iraq, the Times poll shows that by a margin of 60-30 Democrats now oppose the President's war policy and support containment instead. (NYT, 2/23/03 Section 4, p.5)

The consequences of national division in the face of a dedicated enemy are not difficult to predict. The leaders of the grassroots efforts to oppose the current war with Iraq have a long and unsavory history of similar efforts. During the Vietnam War their attacks on America's policy successfully divided the country and shaped the policy of the Democratic Party following through the McGovern campaign of 1972. In 1975, a Democratic-controlled congress under pressure from the left, cut off economic and military aid to the governments of Cambodia and South Vietnam. Within months, both regimes fell to the Communists who proceeded to slaughter two and a half million peasants in Indo-China.

American Paralysis and the Radical Islamic Threat:

The paralysis of American power as a result of its internal division became known as the "post-Vietnam syndrome." America was no longer able to deploy its power on the world stage. The consequences this paralysis lie at the root of the current crisis. In 1979, the Carter Administration was unwilling and unable to save the regime of the Shah of Iran, a dictator to be sure, but also a modernizing leader who liberated Iran's women and instituted progressive education and social reforms. The Shah's regime fell to the Ayatollahs who instituted the first radical Islamic regime and gave birth to the movement that threatens us today.

In the same year, 1979, our Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, emboldened by America's inability act, sent its armies across an international border for the first time since World War II. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan killed a million Afghan peasants and created the cauldron from which the Talbian and Osama bin Laden emerged. This history should be a warning to all those flirting with the anti-war left.