Jewish World Review July 19, 2004 / 1 Menachem-Av 5764

Paul Greenberg

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Some things I don't believe | That George W. Bush started the war in Iraq to please his Saudi friends, partners and co-conspirators.

That Michael Moore is a great reader, and Oliver Stone a great historian.

That the Saudi monarchy is stable.

That the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been conducted flawlessly, any more than other American wars have been.

That the criminal justice system is sufficient to deal with enemy combatants - lawful and unlawful - and that military tribunals aren't needed.

That American security agencies should be forbidden from getting a warrant to look at suspicious Internet messages sent via public libraries.

(Those who believe this remind me of a story about Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who supposedly responded thus to the news that American cryptographers had broken the Japanese diplomatic code before Pearl Harbor: "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail.")

That America can cover the Middle East with cookie-cutter democracies that are carbon copies of our own.

That our own democracy is clear, simple and straightforward-and not the product of a complex and, at times, chaotic history.

That writing, adopting and putting into practice our own Constitution was a quick, simple affair readily duplicated elsewhere.

That any of the alternatives to the Electoral College would make presidential elections simpler, quicker, clearer or fairer.

That we were safer September 10, 2001 than we are today.

That America's best days are behind us.

That John Kerry would adopt a dramatically different foreign policy from the current one.

That this country can conduct foreign policy without secrecy or complicated moral compromises.

That the world was better off when Saddam Hussein was in power.

That under Saddam Hussein, Iraqi intelligence had no contacts with al-Qaida.

That reports of bipartisan committees and commissions looking into 9-11 won't be exploited for partisan purposes.

That Arab fanatics of a secular bent will not cooperate with the religious variety. (Or that diverse nations with such widely varying interests as Germany, Italy and Japan were incapable of forming an axis that would threaten civilization.)

That appeasing dictators-whether Iraq's Saddam Hussein or North Korea's Kim Jong Il-will make them more tractable.

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That the '90s marked a New Paradigm in American economics instead of just another peak and valley in the business cycle.

That taxes aren't a brake on economic activity.

That economic reforms alone will make the world's remaining Communist regimes, whether mainland China or Castro's Cuba, more democratic.

That leaders don't matter.

That a Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale could have ended the Cold War and its nuclear arms race as quickly and decisively as Ronald Reagan did.

That arms control won the Cold War.

That character won't tell.

That Richard Nixon wasn't the most fascinating, repellent, and well-worth-studying American president of the latter half of the 20th Century.

That the Clinton Library here in Little Rock will do better by its hero's critics than any other presidential library/shrine does at presenting The Other Side of the Story.

That Kenneth Starr caused Bill Clinton's problems.

That it's okay to swear falsely if it's (a) only about sex, (b) to keep your wife and family from finding out, (c) to protect your career, and (d) all of the above.

That perjury is a mere technicality, not to be confused with a high crime or misdemeanor.

That Bill Clinton is a great writer full of soulful, profound insights.

That people are really good.

That people are really evil.

That education can be improved by spending still more money and expecting nothing in particular in return.

That television isn't addictive.

That the traditional family is outdated.

That Wesley Clark would have made a great running mate for John Kerry, inspiring confidence and lending the Democratic ticket wisdom, maturity, temperance and stability. Ditto, Howard Dean.

That George W. Bush could find a better vice-presidential candidate than Dick Cheney.

That Dick Cheney's language and, worse, his unapologetic attitude about it is a small matter not worth all the hubbub.

That manners are unimportant and incivility nothing to worry about in American politics-or American society.

That our language is not a reflection of who we are, and whether we respect ourselves.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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