Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2002 / 2 Mar-Cheshvan 5763

Paul Greenberg

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The case is made | America is now in the next phase of the War on Terror, a long twilight struggle whose dimensions have only begun to be grasped, and the focus has shifted to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. For the Taliban have been shattered, Afghanistan is being reconstructed and the remnants of al-Qaida scurry for cover.

It has been clear for some time that the next target must be Iraq's Saddam Hussein, a clear and present danger that grows clearer and more present every day. But there are none so blind as those who, in the face of all the evidence, would prefer to ignore it. Or if they must recognize the danger Saddam represents, they will say that the case for action has yet to be made.

It's become something of a mantra among some of our (non)leaders: The Case Has Not Yet Been Made. They say it regularly. The phrase comes in handy. It lets the aginners acknowledge that Saddam may be a real threat without having to do anything realistic about it. Not now. Maybe later, if ever.

Ted Kennedy, who's always such a comfort at times like these, echoed the same let's-wait-till-we're-about-to-be-blown-up line. This week he claimed the administration hadn't made a "convincing" case for acting against Saddam, a backhanded way of acknowledging that a case had been made. It's just not a case he's ready to sign onto, and may never be. It's easy to picture him standing in the radioactive ruins, asking for more evidence.

Meanwhile, the president has been trying to rouse the country to this danger for the better part of a year by now. On September 11th itself, looking down on the burning Pentagon as he returned to Washington, George W. Bush turned to an aide and noted that here was the face of war in the 21st century.

Nine days later, in his address to a joint session of Congress, this president gave notice that the United States of America would no longer treat terrorism as a matter for the criminal justice system, as if an attack on the American mainland were a mugging or another stock swindle. This was war, he told the country, and would be conducted as such.

Four months later, in his State of the Union address, the president pinpointed the Axis of Evil, naming Iraq, Iran and North Korea. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction," he warned, "these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

North Korea's Kim Jong Il got the message. He's begun to open up since the president's direct warning, In Iran, a restive population is providing the best brake on the mad mullahs there. But in Iraq, Saddam Hussein has continued to defy the United States and the United Nations.

Saddam's support for terrorism is no secret (not long ago he raised the bounty he was offering the families of suicide bombers), and his attempt to put together an arsenal of strategic weapons is well documented.

Saddam's preparations for war on a catastrophic scale are detailed in U.N. inspection reports which, the U.N. being the U.N., it has ignored. The latest 50-page inventory of Iraq's chemical, biological and coming nuclear arsenal was put together by the British. How many more warnings does the U.S. Senate need? Just last June, in a commencement speech to West Point's graduating class, the president pointed out the dangers of giving Saddam still more time to assemble his arsenal of mass destruction:

"If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. (The) war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act."

Case made. Not just forcefully but thoughtfully. That case has been fleshed out since by one intelligence round-up after another. Yet the president's critics in the Senate still wait for The Case To Be Made. As if they themselves didn't have a responsibility to look at the facts and draw the obvious conclusions about what the national security demands.

This month, Congress was still holding hearings on the last, devastating sneak attack on this country. It wanted to know why this nation failed to detect and prevent the attacks of September 11th. Accusations, defenses, and excuses filled the air. If we wait much longer to deal with the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein, there will be no excuse for what could happen. We have been warned time and again. Some may not have been listening, but The Case Has Been Made.

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