Jewish World Review Feb. 10, 2002/ 8 Adar I, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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Maybe room enough for the freeloaders | Leadership has its rewards, as George W. Bush is demonstrating to the world.

He told the clowns, cowards and freeloaders at the United Nations to climb aboard the train or risk having to chase it down the tracks.

"The game is over," he declared. "Saddam Hussein will be stopped."

The president offered France, Germany, Russia, China and other pouting members of the United Nations one last chance to save face and to keep their national egos fully inflated. The president is open to a second U.N. resolution, saying again what No. 1441 said last November, but only if he is convinced that it will lead to the disarmament that the United Nations demanded of Iraq in that earlier resolution. He understands how eager diplomats are to appear to be important. The president is willing to patronize them in the interests of making nice, even with whiners, gripers, grumblers and assorted other malcontents.

"The Security Council must not back down when those demands are defied and mocked," the president said. "The United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, is resolved to take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime."

The United States got a spot of good news from Turkey, where the parliament voted to allow the United States to upgrade military bases and ports for use in a war against Iraq.

The "allies" in the United Nations make riveting sound bites, but no one is taking brave French talk and courageous German boasting at full account. Jacques Chirac, huffing and puffing, will soon enough lead the stragglers after George W.'s train, popping a sweat and risking cardiac arrest, desperate to catch the caboose. Vladimir Putin and the Chinese cohort will be right behind, eager not to miss whatever vodka martinis and pork dumplings that may be served aboard. Gerhard Schroeder can allay the fears of the rest of us by staying off the train (we've seen enough of blitzkrieg for the next thousand years or so), but someone might throw him a sausage from the dining car leftovers.

War is clearly inevitable unless Saddam backs down. If he doesn't, the frightened world will have to thank these reluctant "allies," a few congressional ninnies and the trans-Atlantic naysayers of the streets. No one can blame Saddam for thinking he can exploit the dissension among the nations of the West and the anti-war cacophony in the high weeds of the left, ranging from pop celebrities (Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman) to the anti-war icons of yesteryear (Norman Mailer, Barbra Streisand, Ramsey Clark), now growing gray and feeble and but not too old to dream of the sex and revolution of their youth.

No one will have contributed more to war, when it comes, than certain members of Congress who have gone out of their way to give aid and encouragement to Saddam Hussein. Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, who earlier raised the fraudulent spectre of restoring the draft to frighten his constituents, and Jim McDermott of Washington flew off to New York after the president's State of the Union address and just days before Colin Powell's forceful presentation at the United Nations with the incredible suggestion to Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, that the president does not speak for America.

Nobody knows everything the congressmen told Mr. Annan, but in an interview with Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, Mr. Conyers said that he had told Mr. Annan that the United Nations "should bind us all, even when we're in disagreement."

Mr. McDermott - perhaps in shame, perhaps in chagrin, perhaps in fear - sent out a spokeswoman in a skirt wide enough to hide behind to speak for him. She told Roll Call only that she didn't know any of the details of the meeting. Mr. McDermott had earlier gone to Baghdad to tell Saddam that the president might lie to the public to justify war. No one on the Hill could remember when a member of Congress had gone to an enemy to undercut a president on the eve of war.

The president, and his secretary of state, have worked hard to build a consensus, and a growing number of nations, like Turkey, are in fact joining the coalition. War, when it comes, will marginalize France and Germany if they are not part of that coalition, and this is what infuriates M. Chirac and Herr Schroeder. More infuriating still, to M. Chirac, is the knowledge that President Bush and the Americans don't really need the French to accomplish the West's aims. The French are perfectly free to stay under the bed when the shooting starts. They've been there before.

War, the secretary of state told Congress, could be difficult, but "there is the possibility that success could fundamentally shape that region in a powerful, positive way that will enhance U.S. interests."

That might not please our "allies," the streets, and certain sorehead members of Congress, but it's good enough news for the rest of us.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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