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Jewish World Review April 21, 2003/ 19 Nisan, 5763

Larry Elder

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Consumer Reports

Bush's invisible victory | George Bush cannot win.

After the stunning fall of Baghdad in less than three weeks, the dire predictions of "another Vietnam" or a "bog down" not coming true, how about a little Hail-to-the-Chief?

Instead, what did Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority leader, say? "I have absolutely no regret about my vote (against) this war," said Pelosi. "The same questions remain. The cost in human lives. The cost to our budget, probably $100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less. . . . But the most important question at this time, now that we're toward the end of it, is what is the cost to the war on terrorism?"

Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the Senate minority leader, apparently waiting for poll results, said, "I want to vet it a little bit more before I come to any conclusions." Another recent example occurred on "Meet the Press," when host Tim Russert asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the following question, "What happened there? How did we allow that museum to be looted?" Allow?

Only days before the demise of the Hussein regime, Scott Ritter, former United-Nations-inspector-turned-Iraqi-government-sympathizer, predicted not just a "bog down," but total defeat: "The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we cannot win. We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable. Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for 10 years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost."

What the military accomplished in less than three weeks verges on the unprecedented. Hundreds of miles of territory under coalition control, virtually all of the oil wells under coalition control, the surrender of at least one Iraqi division, and apparently the total absence of the "leadership" of the Iraqi government, including Saddam Hussein, and his sons, in whose charge he placed the defense of his country.

Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf bordered on comical as he gave his assessment of the war, which contrasted with what we watched on the various cable news channels. "They will be burnt. We are going to tackle them," said Al-Sahhaf, after U.S. missiles destroyed his office, forcing him to give press briefings on the street. While we watched American tanks roll through Baghdad, Al-Sahhaf said, "There is no presence of American columns in the city of Baghdad at all. We besieged them and we killed most of them." After U.S. forces seized Baghdad's Saddam Hussein airport, Al-Sahhaf stated, "We butchered the force present at the airport. We have retaken the airport! There are no Americans there!"

Still, Bush can't win. The Bush administration talked about the oppression of the Iraqi people, and expected the persecuted, long-suffering Iraqis to welcome the American military as liberators. A few weeks ago, Bill O'Reilly questioned actor/activist Janeane Garofalo, "If you are wrong, all right, and if the United States -- and they will, this is going to happen -- goes in, liberates Iraq, people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers, all right, we find all kinds of bad, bad stuff, all right, in Iraq, you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?" Her response? "I'll bring roses right to his front door. I will bring a fruitcake and roses . . . " She also said, "I would be so willing to say I'm sorry, I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, 'you were wrong, you were a fatalist,' and I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, 'Hey, you were right, I shouldn't have doubted you.' But I think that is preposterous."

Now the anti-war crowd cries, "But where are the weapons of mass destruction? After all, that's why we went there." Remember, Dr. Khadir Hamza, the former head of the Iraqi nuclear programs, noted, during the first inspection go-around, that thousands of inspectors failed to uncover weapons of mass destruction. Not until an Iraqi defected and identified the location did inspectors find anything. And according to coalition head Gen. Tommy Franks, 3,000 locations of possible weapons of mass destruction remain to be searched, at a rate of between five to 15 per day.

Just wait. Gen. Amir Saadi, Hussein's chief scientific adviser, recently surrendered. Before he turned himself in, he repeatedly claimed Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, at his press conference announcing his surrender, he repeated the claim. Expect him to change his tune after he enters into negotiations with the victors as to his fate.

We'll find the stuff, and after that, expect Bush's opponents to invent new objections. He can't win.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate