Jewish World Review March 27, 2003 / 24 Adar II, 5763

Zev Chafets

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

What's not going on is the key in this war | TEL AVIV It's been a week since President Bush unleashed the dogs of war in Iraq. That's enough time to notice which ones haven't barked.

The Arab street, for example, which was supposed to yelp at the first sign of American aggression, has remained eerily quiet. There's been more anti-war agitation in Cleveland than Cairo. The Arab League met in solemn conference over the weekend and produced an anti-war resolution not much stronger than the peace pronunciamento of the New York City Council. In the real world, Iraq's Arab neighbors, with the exception of Syria, are active partners in the anti-Saddam Hussein coalition.

Iraq has failed to undermine this partnership by dragging Israel into the war, as it attempted to do in 1991. Iraq hasn't managed to launch a single Scud missile at Tel Aviv - or any other neighbor. The puny missiles fired at Kuwait have been mostly downed by the reassuringly successful Patriot anti-missile system.

The terror dog also has been conspicuously silent. No Saddamite sleeper cells have sprung into action. The only Islamic bomber so far has been a disgruntled Muslim American G.I. in Kuwait. And, despite dire warnings, there has been almost no eco-terrorism. The Iraqi dictator has managed to ignite only a few oil wells; Iraq's major petroleum assets are already in coalition hands.

There have been no unconventional attacks on U.S. troops, and, hysterical headlines about fierce battles notwithstanding, not much in the way of conventional attacks, either. The plain truth is that so far, the Iraqi army hasn't put up a real fight.

The proof is in the numbers. In the first six days of the war, only 11 Americans were killed by Iraqi fire - nine in a single ambush. Every casualty is a tragedy, of course, but Brooklyn has had mob wars with higher body counts.

It is too early to know exactly how many Iraqi civilians have been killed, but obviously coalition planners are keeping that toll down, too. Whatever the military merits of the policy of precision bombing, it has prevented mass slaughter in Baghdad. So has the tactic of bypassing towns and cities on the march north from Kuwait. The best evidence for this is the absence of reports about imperialist-crusader massacres, even in the highly fictionalized coverage of Al Jazeera and the rest of the Arab "news" media.

Critics of the war correctly point out that some key administration assertions and assumptions remain unproven.

No weapons of mass destruction have been found. No Al Qaeda link has been unveiled. The army hasn't deserted en mass. And if Iraqi civilians in Basra and other southern cities feel gratitude toward their American "liberators," they have been extremely good at controlling their emotions.

But it's still early. Once Baghdad is taken and Saddam is definitely dead, there will be time enough for insincere Iraqi rejoicing and the disclosure of genuine horrors.

In military terms, the first week of the war has been an almost unqualified success, a fact that should occasion confidence, not smugness. In the coming days and weeks, there will be setbacks: more casualties - many more if Saddam uses chemical or biological weapons - more captured Americans and Brits and perhaps an uptick in terrorism. War is unpredictable and unpleasant, especially against an enemy like Saddam.

Americans will continue to see this war's temporary setbacks (and ultimate victory) through the eyes of its embedded reporters. But it is not enough to watch a war. You need to listen, too - especially to the silence of the dogs that are not barking.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

03/20/03: The big question: Can Arabs handle liberty?
03/17/03: In war, like in baseball, the idea is to make the other guy cry --- now, let's go get 'em!
03/13/03: Jewish plot? This pol has gone punchy
03/11/03: Prez is ready to finish off the Security Council, too
03/04/03: Those human shields need some star power
02/28/03: How prez could further racial pluralism but end affirnative action
02/24/03: Prof's arrest will test Arab Americans' loyalty
02/11/03: Rhyme, but no reason
02/04/03: McGovern's children
01/23/03: A peace movement that's going nowhere
01/13/03: No time for experts
01/07/03: Senator from Mayberry shouldn't alarm prez
12/31/02: Dem Dummies
12/19/02: Saudis still play Santa to Arafat
12/13/02: Lott has to be dumped to save W's authority
12/05/02: Kissinger's Saudi pals litter 9/11 money trail
11/25/02: Sharon looks like a winner
11/18/02: It's the war, stupid
11/14/02: The Dems don't have a prayer
11/07/02: Watch for Dubya to give Arik political hug
10/31/02: Sharpton the patriot
10/22/02: Rabin, gone but not missed
10/17/02: Israelis bracing for US' punch at Iraq
10/14/02: Geriatric war resisters
09/27/02: Al Gore: The Lost Boy of American politics
09/05/02: The intifadeh's over, and the Israelis won
08/29/02: At the world summit, just anger & hypocrisy
08/21/02: No time for weak knees on Iraq
08/16/02: A pro-Arab pol may get the beating she deserves
08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News