JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review / Nov. 23, 1998 /4 Kislev, 5759

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg Same game, another round

"I THINK IT COMPLETELY DISINGENUOUS and dishonest and despicable,'' Madeleine Albright was saying just the other day.

No, she wasn't talking about our president's sworn testimony.

Nor was she referring to his accepting the same paper promises from Iraq's Saddam Hussein that he did earlier this year, and again calling it victory.

No, our secretary of state-and-bluster was talking about Saddam Hussein's straight-faced claim last week that he hadn't banished the United Nations' inspectors from making their appointed rounds of his growing toxic and nuclear arsenal.

< This sporadic crisis will now continue on a lower level till it flares up again, as it will the next time Iraq's megalomaniac-in-chief foils the U.N.'s inspectors once again. Or is so successful at evading them entirely that he launches a devastating attack without warning. And this the administration calls a great success for its foreign policy.

It's like calling the fiery end to the siege of the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco a great moment in law enforcement.

Scott Ritter had it figured out some time ago. He's the American who quit the U.N. team in disgust when he could no longer take all these little wordgames. His resignation should have opened eyes instead of closing minds. But at the time, our tough-talking, seldom-acting secretary of state responded by saying Scott Ritter didn't have a clue about American foreign policy. It's even clearer now who's clueless.

Half-bully, half-coward, Saddam Hussein has buffaloed the world once again. He's getting quite good at it, and why not? Practice makes perfect, and he's been outmaneuvering the Albrights and Clintons, the Sandy Bergers and Tony Blairs for months going on years now. And each month gained is another month in which to acquire a strategic arsenal.

The bellicose statements out of Washington were only that, and Saddam Hussein knew it. Which is why he remains a growing threat to the peace of the Mideast and of the world.

The president of the United States sounded even more hollow than usual Sunday, when he declared last week's aborted field exercise a great victory. The only glimmer of hope in Bill Clinton's statement was his declaration of support for those trying to overthrow the Iraqi dictator from within. But if that support is also little but words, and so far it is, the danger will only grow.

Secretary Albright is a great talker, too. Iraq's ruler, she warned last week, "cannot have two incompatible goals, which is to have sanctions lifted and retain his capacity to have weapons of mass destruction.''

Really? Why not? That's what he's been doing for months, for years, now. What's the secretary of state going to do about it, hold another press conference? That prospect must have Saddam shaking in his combat boots.

And what's the president and commander-in-chief going to do about it? Dispatch another great armada to the Persian Gulf and recall it with equal fanfare? There's got to be a less expensive way to train the troops.

This time a force of B-52s armed with cruise missiles was said to have been on its way to Iraqi targets before being diverted in mid-flight. Why was the raid called off? It seems Saddam Hussein gave his word that, honest to goodness, this time he'd keep it for sure. Not that Washington trusts his word. No, the president insisted that he put his promise on paper. Yes, he insisted on written assurances. What a relief.

If this is Bill Clinton's idea of effective diplomacy, Neville Chamberlain secured peace in our time, too, with his equally valuable, duly signed and delivered piece of paper.

If our president and commander-in-chief really thinks it was Saddam Hussein who backed down last week, he's not disingenuous at all, but hopelessly confused. What will Bill Clinton say when Iraq's dictator actually uses those strategic weapons he's been developing? That peace in the Mideast has finally come? Or does this president hope to be safely out of office by then? What a legacy Bill Clinton is leaving his successor -- and the world. This is no victory; its a ticking time bomb.

Even if those B-52s had lobbed a few cruise missiles at selected targets, Washington would not have destroyed Saddam Hussein but just irritated him. Like a bull that has escaped from the ring and is now roaming the streets, Saddam Hussein requires the attention of a matador, But he gets only a picador -- and a picador who in the end, after a great show of twirling and much talk, doesn't hurl a single dart.

Unlike earlier times, when strategy determined weapons, our weapon of choice -- cruise missiles, because they can be used at a safe distance without great risk -- now determines our ineffectual strategy.

Only when America regains its will and strikes long, hard, often and to great effect -- as in the Gulf War -- will Saddam Hussein be cut down to proper size. Until then, all these declarations of victory out of Washington will have a tinny, unconvincing sound: "disingenuous, dishonest, and despicable,'' to quote Madame Albright. She had it right, even if she didn't realize she was summing up not just Baghdad's assurances, but Washington's.

Each time Iraq's tinpot Hitler is allowed to slip through the net, he only grows stronger and his developing arsenal more dangerous. It has just happened again. But in the event you missed this little crisis last week, or just didn't pay much attention to all the cries and alarums during a big football weekend, don't worry. At this rate, there's bound to be another and bigger one soon.


11/23/98: Same game, another round
11/18/98: Guide to the perplexed
11/09/98: A vote for apathy
11/03/98: Global village goes Clintonesque
11/02/98: Farewell to all that
10/30/98: New budget, same swollen government
10/26/98: Of life on the old plantation -- and death in the Middle East
10/22/98: Starr Wars (CONT'D)
10/19/98:Another retreat: weakness invites aggression
10/16/98: Profile in courage
10/14/98: A new voice out of Arkansas
10/09/98: Gerald Ford, Mr. Fix-It?
10/07/98: Impeachment Journal: Dept. of Doublespeak
10/01/98: The new tradition
9/25/98: Mr. President, PLEASE don't resign
9/23/98: The demolition of meaning
9/18/98: So help us G-d; The nature of the crisis
9/17/98: First impressions: on reading the Starr Report
9/15/98: George Wallace: All the South in one man
9/10/98: Here comes the judge
9/07/98: Toward impeachment
9/03/98: The politics of impeachment
9/01/98: The eagle can still soar
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