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Jewish World Review / September 1, 1998 / 10 Elul, 5758

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg The eagle can
still soar

IS THERE A WORD IN SWAHILI FOR CHUTZPAH? If so, Sudan's president is full of it. Reacting indignantly to the American raid on that oh-so-innocuous pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum -- the one that was also turning out a key ingredient of nerve gas -- the Sudanese president said that the United States had put innocent civilians in peril by attacking the plant.

Sudan's president is part right: Innocent people were put in peril, but by a regime
that has cooperated with a worldwide network of terrorists and allowed the likes of Osama bin Laden to use its territory, possibly to produce chemical weapons.

One would like to think that the raids of Aug. 20 sent a message to all those governments in the world who would let their territory become staging bases for attacks on innocent Americans: They place their own people in imminent danger. Not just American embassies are threatened by terrorists; those capitals that play host to terror may find themselves targeted, too.

This is not a message that's likely to be put across with just a couple of raids on terrorist operations -- not after the years of neglect this administration has lavished on the war against terrorism. Even now, this country lacks an anti-missile defense or even the beginnings of one. Speaking loudly and carrying a small stick has inspired little respect for American foreign policy -- at home or abroad.

With the credibility of this administration being what it is, seldom has it been so necessary for Washington to produce evidence that its retaliation was warranted.

The brief but highly effective raids on that plant in Khartoum and against Osama bin Laden's little university for terrorists in the Afghan wilderness came as a welcome break with what this administration has done in the past to quell terrorism, namely not much.

Madeleine Albright's State Department has even tried to thwart an American family's attempt to sue Iran in this country's courts for Teheran's role in the attack that took their daughter's life in Israel. After withdrawing the American armada from the Persian Gulf earlier this year, Washington went comatose.

Result: Iraq's Saddam Hussein still represents a clear, present and ever more dangerous threat to the peace of the Mideast -- and the world.

All of this doubtless will be remembered when the next war erupts in the Mideast -- a war that might have been prevented by taking vigorous action earlier this year. Or even now.

Instead, after a show of force that was mainly show, the problem of Iraqi defiance has been handed over to the United Nations. That is, it has been ignored. Which is pretty much what Scott Ritter -- captain, U.S. Marine Corps, and an honest man -- noted in his letter of resignation as part of the arms inspection team in Iraq.

The administration heatedly denied his accusation, and the obvious. Well, whom would you believe, (a) Scott Ritter or (b) Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright put together in one quivering mass of vacillation?

The arm of the law is still long, and the American eagle can still soar, as the raids in the Sudan and Afghanistan demonstrated. One hopes those raids were the beginning of a new and vigorous policy of armed response to outrage, not just bright exceptions to a dismal rule.


8/28/98: Boris Yeltsin's mind: a riddle pickled in an enigma
8/26/98: Clinton agonistes, or: Twisting in the wind
8/25/98: The rise of the English murder
8/24/98: Confess and attack: Slick comes semi-clean
8/19/98: Little Rock perspectives
8/14/98: Department of deja vu
8/12/98: The French would understand
8/10/98: A fable: The Rat in the Corner
8/07/98: Welcome to the roaring 90s
8/06/98: No surprises dept. -- promotion denied
8/03/98: Quotes of and for the week: take your pick
7/29/98: A subpoena for the president:
so what else is new?
7/27/98: Forget about Bubba, it's time to investigate Reno
7/23/98: Ghosts on the roof, 1998
7/21/98: The new elegance
7/16/98: In defense of manners
7/13/98: Another day, another delay: what's missing from the scandal news
7/9/98:The language-wars continue
7/7/98:The new Detente
7/2/98: Bubba in Beijing: history does occur twice
6/30/98: Hurry back, Mr. President -- to freedom
6/24/98: When Clinton follows Quayle's lead
6/22/98: Independence Day, 2002
6/18/98: Adventures in poli-speke

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate