Thursday, September 26, 2002

A Secondary Scourge-The school's server is blocking Blogspot for the moment, so I don't know what Charles Austin is doing with this the latest Richard Cohen steaming pile. This one set off the bogometer
As for the Democrats, many of them are so afraid of being labeled appeasers that they want to quickly give the president the war resolution he wants -- so they can then turn to the weak economy as a campaign issue. Many of these Democrats happen to share Gore's misgivings, but, to put matters in their crassest terms, they seem quite willing to sacrifice the odd 19-year-old soldier for the odd congressional seat.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cohen's willing to sacrifice thousands of Israeli and European civilians to future Iraqi WMDs to save the odd 19-year-old soldier.
From the reaction to Gore's speech, you would have thought he had advocated unilateral disarmament followed by an aid package for Iraq. On the contrary, he advocated "taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion," but only after the United States had built an "international coalition" to do so. He also said that Washington ought to first finish the job against Osama bin Laden and ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a Club Med for terrorists.
Well, we have an international coalition ready to rumble-it's just not international enough for Gore or Cohen. I'm not sure what Gore means by a "timely fashion." Saddam toyed with his old boss for eight years without Clinton doing much more than to take out a few radar sites, so a timely fashion might mean sometime after Tel Aviv gets gassed. The two fronts aren't mutually exclusive. For now, the al Qaeda front is more of a special-ops and intelligence mode while a war with Iraq will be more of a conventional military operation. If we had hundreds of bombers still strafing Afghanistan, Gore would have a case.
For that matter, neither is Gore. He was one of only eight Senate Democrats to vote for the Persian Gulf War -- and, just for the record, he served in Vietnam.
Do I smell chickenhawk on the barbie?
He knows a bit more about war than some of the drumbeaters who want not only to knock out Hussein (I'm for that) but also to virtually annex the Middle East. (What are these people talking about?) War is a serious matter and it ought to be debated seriously.
OK, sir, let's propose a military-affairs quiz featuring you and Gore versus Rich Lowery and Byran Preston, two people that might loosely fit your drumbeater persona. You and Al better not spot them any points.
But it is not. All across the landscape, charges of "appeasement" fill the air. The accusers range from Fox News's Sean Hannity -- "Am I wrong? Are we watching something similar to appeasement before our eyes?" -- to the editorial pages of more than a few newspapers. Almost always, Hussein is likened to Hitler, Munich is mentioned and sometimes the Holocaust as well. The question, though, is not whether to give Hussein the Middle Eastern version of the Sudetenland but how -- and when -- to render him impotent or, better yet, gone. The means, not the ends, are in doubt.
WMD and Sudetenland might not be the best parallels, but the parallels of the Chamberlains of 1938 and the UNistas of today is that they trust the word of the bad guys. Chamberlain trusted Hitler's line that he would stop at Sudetenland and be a good boy while the UNistas think that Saddam will actually allow for a no-holds-barred inspection regime. Saddam might be a somewhat lower grade of evil than Hitler, but we can trust him about as far as we can throw him.
You may not agree with everything Gore said. But he raised some legitimate concerns. After all, the Bush administration has promoted this war with something less than a punctilious regard for fact or, for that matter, tact. It implied a nonexistent connection between al Qaeda and Hussein. It suggested the imminence of an Iraqi nuclear capability that's hardly imminent. It barged ahead unilaterally, pausing at the United Nations only after being forced to do so, and it shredded international law and precedent by asserting it can do whatever it wants in the name of self-defense. This is not a doctrine; it's an impulse.
The Iraq-al Qaeda link is light but far from not-existent. If Mr. Cohen thinks Iraq's nuclear capability is far from imminent, then he should call Tony Blair a liar to his face and dare him to sue for libel. Bush went ahead without the UN, but not unilaterally (let's remember that Britain and many other countries are with us) and has yet to shred international law on the issue (as if the Ollie North Memorial Shredder is getting warmed up). Cohen's column isn't a critique, it's an impulse, a knee-jerk liberal impulse.

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