Friday, March 14, 2003

Yes, it's true: Glenn Instapundit Reynolds and I broke bread the other day. That ought to be news enough. I mean, we live 10 minutes away from each other, work 5 minutes away from each other, and actually manage to get together for lunch or whatever once every 3 months or so. My fault, I'm sure; I'm just a damn surly creature.

Glenn speaks the truth, however, on my Iraq position. I have very deliberately been on the fence, as previous posts on this site indicate. But I thought I should explain what has led me to come out in favor of doing this damn war, already.

First, Saddam is a bad man, and should have been completely dealt with in 1991. That was the mistake of a Bush White House with significant input from Colin Powell. While I don't have much confidence in the current Bush White House [with significant input from Colin Powell], it doesn't change the necessity of getting rid of Saddam.

Why get rid of him? The argument is that he's a known quantity; better someone who is relatively predictable than a wild card. I think that perception has changed over the last several months. The problem with this guy is that we can't predict what he's going to do. There is at least some evidence that Saddam is working on bioterror weapons, and he has had a well-known relationship with nuclear technology [which is probably being supplied to him by the French -- hence their eagerness to prop him up]. That he has not used these weapons on people other than Iraqis and Kurds does not mean that he will not -- at any moment -- use them on us, or the Israelis, or whoever. Given the climate of the last 7 or 8 months, we cannot allow him to continue holding over the world this potential for catastrophic destructiveness.

We must move, and soon. Our reputation in the world community, not strong to begin with, has suffered from the waiting. The UN maneuvering, while maybe justifiable in theory, has turned out to be a waste both of time and national prestige for the U.S.

We are now, based on the Administration's handling of the issue, in a no-win situation regarding Saddam. If we go militarily without UN "permission" we are villified as ignoring that "august" body. Even if we do get a UN OK, we will be villified by the fairly significant [at least vocally] anti-war movement, that finaly has found a cause since Vietnam is a dead issue. We won't get UN permission, however, because France or Russia will veto. France especially continues to villify us in the world press. And, simply doing nothing will get us villified, too. We cannot allow Saddam to remain in place, because if we back down now, we are seen as a laughing stock, and Saddam may very well become the leader of the arab world as a result of "defeating" the U.S. We're going to get villified any way we go; we may as well have the villification of our choice [ed. note: can the Administration have been this smart? Can it have actually set up this scenario where going to war is the lesser of evils? Nah.]

Our administration has placed us in a remarkably difficult situation by its ham-handed handling of the Iraq issue. By waiting as long as we have, we have destroyed any semblance of strategic or tactical surprise, which is the single most important factor, militarily speaking. We have been turning the Rooseveltian "speak softly and carry a big stick" on its ear, since we are screaming about how great we are and how we are going to squash Iraq. Not smart politics. Not smart war-making. We should just -- as a government, that is, just shut up and do the job.

If we start taking casualties, the early and vocal predictions of a military cakewalk are going to come back to haunt the Administration. We all want to achieve the goal of cooking Saddam's goose with a minimum of fuss and human loss, but we must also remember that basic military tenet: No Battle Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy.

The economy is taking body blows because of this interminable shucking and jiving. We are economically in the toilet: over 300,000 more unemployed in the last month, gas prices the highest in history, the airlines about to go belly-up because of the political climate and the fuel prices, the stock market about the lowest it's been in five years, a loss of 25 to 30% in the value of stocks over the past yearand a $300 billion deficit and climbing. And still, the idiot in the White House [strike previous, insert "President"] wants to cut more taxes. We just got out of financial trouble and within 2 years he's made it worse than it ever was. So much for small government. Anyway, we've got to get off the nut before our economy completely tanks. This domestic economic rationale may be the single most urgent reason for going, and going now. Also, I understand that we've already spent 3/4 of the money prosecuting this war will take. So at this point, it's not a money issue.

OK, so I do have some ambivalence; just not about whether it's time to make war on Iraq. I hate this Administration, and I think it has mishandled this Iraq situation from the start. But, given the situation on the ground, I also believe that we have no choice but to get rid of Saddam, and do it soon. As a wise man said, "sh-- or get off the pot." It's time to go to the bathroom. On Iraq. And get rid of this 9 months of constipation.

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