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Jewish World Review /Dec. 18,1998 /29 Kislev 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Wag the country

THERE COMES A POINT beyond which extending the benefit of the doubt becomes foolhardy.

This column has urged seriousness of purpose regarding Saddam Hussein for the past decade. President Bush was scored for placing ephemeral U.N. cohesion ahead of U.S. national interests in failing to remove Saddam Hussein from power when we were in the neighborhood in 1991 (so to speak). And this administration has been urged to interest itself in the Iraqi threat many times since.

But far from taking the Iraqi threat seriously, the Clinton administration has demonstrated fecklessness and, worse, bad faith, for the past six years. It has ignored or papered over thousands of instances of Iraqi intransigence and obstruction of the weapons inspection scheme. It has threatened military action at least three times and backed down in each case on the flimsiest of paper guarantees that Iraq would cooperate.

Each time the administration has gone to the brink and then retreated, it has sent devastating signals of unseriousness to the Iraqi regime.

In each instance, Iraq has resumed its chemical, nuclear and biological weapons program, as well as its policy of obstructing the UNSCOM inspectors, within hours of the U.S. climb down. Scott Ritter, the U.N. weapons inspector who resigned from UNSCOM rather than participate in a sham, blew the whistle on this administration's vacillation, revealing that the secretary of state had signaled to UNSCOM that it not push the Iraqis too hard since President Clinton was unprepared to use force as he had promised to do if Iraq failed to live up to its promises.

For this bit of courage, Ritter was rewarded by the administration in classic Clinton style --- he became the victim of character assassination. The administration had him investigated by the FBI on utterly spurious charges. Ritter joins Billy Dale, Kathleen Willey, Linda Tripp and too many others to mention.

Only 24 hours before the impeachment vote, the president asks us to believe that the timing of military action is coincidence?

The last time this president noticed that we have armed forces and world threats was in August following his testimony before the grand jury. At that time, he launched an air attack (no casualties, please, we're Democrats) on a previously unknown terrorist. There were assurances then that the timing was pure coincidence and that taking on Osama bin Laden was a long-term project that would absorb the time and attention of the administration for years to come.

Republicans dutifully supported the action and denied that the president was "wagging the dog." Two days later, bin Laden was forgotten. And the administration has had not one word to say since about fighting international terrorism.

The president claims that he was forced to attack Iraq now, at least in part because Ramadan is set to begin soon. Yet one month ago (and one year ago and four years ago), we knew everything that is known today about Saddam's drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Why didn't the president take account of the approach of Ramadan back then? Surely being sensitive about Ramadan was an argument for striking in November or long before.

If the administration were at all serious about the threat from Saddam Hussein, it would plan more than a week in advance. Everyone who has studied the problem even for a few days comes away with only one conclusion: There is no solution to the problem of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in Iraqi hands short of removing Saddam Hussein from power. President Clinton and his foreign-policy team wish for Saddam's ouster but do nothing to accomplish it. The announced purpose of this bombing is merely to "degrade" his capabilities. That puts American lives at risk for the sake of a mere delaying action.

Under pressure from Congress, the president signed the Iraq Liberation Act in October, which provided $8 million to support Saddam's opposition. But as Republicans have noted, only $58,000 of that money has been spent.

By making it appear that Iraq is only a convenient whipping boy for a president in political trouble, Bill Clinton has trivialized the most serious threat we face and proved that there really are no limits to what he will do to save his own hide.


12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
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6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.