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Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2003 / 24 Kislev, 5764

Diana West

Diana West
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A time for truths | Iraq's interim foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, had a thing or two to tell the U.N. Security Council: "One year ago the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable," the Kurdish mountain-guerrilla-turned-diplomat said, his words chilling the diplomatic double-talk of the Security Council hothouse. The United Nations "failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny," he said, "and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure."

There was more: "Settling scores with the United States should not be at the cost of helping to bring stability to the Iraqi people," Zebari warned. "The U.N. must not fail the Iraqi people again."

Such frankness reveals that not only does the emperor have no clothes, neither does the secretary-general, who appeared shocked by Zebari's indictment. "This is not the time to pin blame and point fingers when everybody is trying to figure out how creatively we can organize ourselves to help Iraqis," the politically exposed Kofi Annan said by way of response, streaking down the high road in a moral blur. Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, French ambassador to the United Nations, made no such defensive bones about it: "I don't want to comment on the past."

It is a strange state of affairs when U.N. diplomats, displaying an imperious non-accountability that pretty much went out of style with the divine right of the Bourbons, are to be congratulated, sort of, just for acknowledging the existence of facts that need accounting for. That is, in refusing to pin blame, point fingers or comment on the past, they have in fact admitted there is something in the past upon which to pin blame, point fingers and comment.

Even this implicit admission, it turns out, is something, or so it seems after absorbing some of the weirder exercises in denial of even more palpable fact — the capture of Saddam Hussein.

"Last night Saddam Hussein was in Fallujah," The New York Times reported an Iraqi man as saying, two days after the dictator was taken into U.S. military custody. "I didn't see him. But some people swore on the Koran at the mosques they saw him. What was on television was untrue." Another man pointed out that it would have taken "five years at least" to grow a beard like the one "Saddam Hussein" wore in the rat hole, proof enough, he said, that the deposed dictator remains a free man.

Such reality-deprived reactions are not atypical. The captive "is someone wearing a Saddam mask," an Iraqi man explained to the Associated Press, adding, "It is a trick to help get President Bush elected." This last remark lifts (lowers) the blind-faith denial fantasy into genuine lunatic conspiracy theory. Similar theories abound in the Middle East (the Americans and the Israelis committed the 9/11 atrocities to elicit sympathy for themselves is a popular one), where a government-run daily like Saudi Arabia's Al-Riyadh can editorialize that Saddam Hussein's capture was "a show" produced to "give new momentum to the American president just when he needs it." More disturbing still is the exploding popularity of such utterly crackpot theories here at home, in the heart of the Democratic Party.

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Maybe it started with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, the Al Gore-anointed, opinion-poll-tested front-runner, who has publicly floated the notion that President Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11, and did nothing. This theory, cooked up out of the most toxic chaff of the Internet rumor mill, doesn't even qualify as half-baked. Which says as much about Dean as it does about the theory.

The day after American forces seized Saddam Hussein, Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, the congressman who declared in Baghdad last year that President Bush would lie to get the United States into a war on Iraq, told an interviewer that Saddam Hussein's capture was a political stunt timed to help Mr. Bush politically. American forces could have captured him "a long time ago if they wanted," he said.

Now, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has joined what you might call the Oliver Stone Democrats. Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke reports that Madame Secretary told him President Bush may already know where Osama bin Laden is, but he is waiting for that perfect political moment to bust him. Question: Does this despicable theory reflect the depths to which Democrats believe Bush is capable of sinking (Kondracke's belief) or, rather, the depths to which Democrats would themselves sink in his place?

Either answer is ugly enough to put on a Saddam mask and look good.

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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2003, Diana West