Reality Check

Friday, September 06, 2002


Time and distance are conspiring to obliterate the reality of tragedy, and the proximity of danger.

One can only react with dismay to the spectacle of Mssrs. Scowcroft, Eagleburger, and Baker arguing for postponment of military action against Iraq, and to the effect their editorials seem to have had on public support for George W. Bush's plans to deal with Saddam. The "Troika" from Bush 41 seem to have succeeded in encouraging an increasing percentage of the American people to blink. The three have served us a meal of comfort food, singing a soothing chorus of "don't rock the international boat," and in effect suggesting we should do nothing for now but get on the U.N. inspections-and-coalition merry-go-round again. Procrastination - it's so much less stressful than confrontation, isn't it? And the Three Wise Men are helping Americans feel that procrastination and postponement are not only less stressful than walking out the door and taking the gun away from the killer, but wiser.

So, we're left with Eagleburger admonishing us to, in effect, wait until we've got the x-ray of the nuke sitting in a warehouse in Baghdad. OK. So let's leave military action until the 2 minute warning, and until then, cross our fingers and hope. Whistle and wait, while the unseen conspires on the other side of the planet. Out of sight, out of mind.

It reminds me of the old joke about the wimp drawing the line in the sand that the bully promptly steps right across...whereupon the wimp takes a step back and draws another "line in the sand." And another and another, again and again.

And so the reality of September 11, and the tragically rude awakening it delivered to the United States, begins to fade away, and we return to the state of mind that prevailed before the ballistic missile attack on New York City and on our nation's capital . Not since Hitler's buzz bombs raining down on London has there been something quite like September 11 and the flying fuel bombs that killed 3000 - and might have killed ten times that, if they had hit the Towers later in the morning when they were full.

The frisson of recognition that one hopes to get by making the comparison to the buzz bombs, by reminding us of the terrible historic context of all this, suggests an antidote to the soporific effect of the Troika and their allies of convenience on the Left. Numbed by the repetition of the original images of the planes exploding through the World Trade Center Towers, the public now needs to be reminded of the reality of tragedy, and the proximity of danger. We must be reminded that those who wage war against us do so by remote-control, and by proxy. We must overcome the sense of Iraq receding to a great distance from us, on the other side of the world and practically in another era, and remind ourselves of the clear and present danger that is posed by an Axis that is not only abstractly evil, but actively conspiring to destroy us by wholly unorthodox means.

Parallels to Shock Us Awake Once Again

The Chamberlain Decade: As George Shultz pointed out so convincingly in his editorial of September 6, the Troika (plus Daschle/Gephardt) is saying something that renders the U.N. agreement to suspend hostilities in '91 completely meaningless. We agreed to suspend hostilities if Saddam complied with the second great objective of the Gulf War: eliminate his weapons of mass destruction. A Sword of Damocles was supposed to be poised over his neck unless he did everthing we demanded and cooperated fully with disarmament of WMD's. The American people, and the world, were thus effectively lied to by appeasers when Saddam was able to break his agreements for a decade, and no sword came down to cut off his head.

Thus the failure to react with overwhelming force after he broke his agreements, especially in 1998, is the terrible proof of appeasement by the Clinton administration. Just as Congressional Democracts like Daschle who opposed the Gulf War don't relish being branded for the Chamberlains that they were, neither does Clinton. And it is Clinton who's inaction in 1998 has the dread feeling of a Chamberlain appeasement on a potentially tragic scale. One senses that so much of the opposition to Bush is a frantic flight from the logical conclusion that, "if Bush is right, then we were Chamberlain."

Context like this is essential to reminding the public of the reality we're facing. When Scowcroft worries that Saddam will attack Tel Aviv and unleash disasters if he is cornered, he is dropping the entire context of why Saddam is a who he is, and why he's been building those weapons in the first place. To place them on a Scud and bomb Tel Aviv, at the best possible time! To use proxies to bomb the U.S., so we'll become paralyzed by fear of another strike from an unknown, secret enemy - revert to isolationism, and pull out of the Middle East. Saddam's objective accomplished. The net sum of the Troika's arguments, delivered even more stridently by Clinton, Carter et al, thus amounts to thinking a chess game two moves ahead, when thinking four moves ahead completely undoes their logic. They want to want us to mentally return to that indeterminate, unconcerned, paralyzed state prior to 9-11, by throwing up a forest of question marks, when most of those question marks already have answers, and they know it. They're playing the "what if" game, but not doing it honestly.

The sad fact is that they just dont want to look guilty for exposing us to a terrible real risk. They have too much invested in their failed policies, and perhaps dare not admit to themselves the magnitude of their error. If we can be convinced that Saddam isn't a real threat, then they won't look guilty for doing nothing in 1998...or for opposing the Gulf War in 1991...or for failing to take him out during Bush 41, when all those inspection agreements were clearly a ruse and a shell game to buy Saddam time.

The American Public needs to hear about the Chamberlains among us, and needs to be reminded that they've been wrong every time before, and have endangered the nation more than once in the past.

Tim Hames in the Times of London, Oct 6, thus argues brilliantly that if Bush had had the kind of evidence about Al Qaeda's plans to bomb us a year ago that we now have about Iraq, neither Daschle, Eagleburger, nor Gerhard Schroeder would have heeded a Bush call for preemptive action in Afganhistan to head off 9-11. And that would have meant blood from September 11 on their hands. It is a dangerous game now to time our action on waiting for courtroom evidence in advance of a crime that is clearly intended, but whose timing and delegation is obscured by espionage.

Hames' reminder of what today's Chamberlain's would have stopped us from doing only a year ago is just the kind of thought-provoking "what if" that can slap awake those American's too ready to sit back in their hammocks now and relax, taking false reassurance from the "don't rock the boat" crowd.

Iraq Really is Right Next Door: Yes, it is a Small World After All. You don't need to take off from Baghdad and fly a bomber to the U.S., or launch an ICBM from the "SCUD box," to deliver a bomb to our shores. A small boat working its way from port to port, or a car crossing a busy border, can do the job fine. And if you want the U.S. out of the Middle East, why take specific credit for the deed that results in retaliation? Those who assasinated Kennedy - was it about taking the credit afterwards, or was it about getting rid of JFK? If taking credit means Baghdad's a crater, then you better believe Saddam will leave the credit to others, and simply reap the harvest of American withdrawal.

So, let's ask Americans, what if Iraq were in Central America? Would we be content to give Saddam yet another "chance," while he was two borders away from us? With his footsoldiers mingling with crowds at borders, flying into international airports that miss 70% of handguns hidden in luggage, and stowing away on cargo ships or small boats that pour into our ports every day. Yes, Saddam might as well be right next door, because a well-planned effort by Islamic terrorist surrogates, who don't mind being killed in the deed, means Saddam's assets-in-place, like a global "fire brigade," are just minutes away from passing weapons of mass destruction across our borders.

Yes, be afraid, and be very afraid - as if you were standing on the 100th floor of Trade Center Two, looking out the window, and saw a plane coming right at you.

Remember, you won't be alive to see the trial. But Daschle and Eagleburger will wait to get their proof of the sponsorship of atrocity, even if it is ex-post-facto.

We can't go back to the olden days. Even now new surprse attacks are being planned. That snake is back in the grass, and we must cut off its head, or be bitten again.