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Jewish World Review March 24, 2003 / 20 Adar II, 5763

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports

Phony charges of diplomatic failure | The latest liberal talking point gracing leftist editorial pages, selected Democratic press conferences and elite intellectual circles is that President Bush has presided over a colossal failure of diplomacy leading to America's military strike against Iraq.

Frankly, I'm tired of these people, who are manifestly on the wrong side of this issue logically and morally, hurling accusations from their sanctimonious perches. Those advocating military action to defend the security interests of the United States are not the ones who have any explaining to do or apologies to make. In furtherance of the goal of protecting America, they're entitled to a presumption of honor.

After all, President Bush has stated repeatedly that we are not going to war for the purpose of conquering, dominating or annexing Iraq into some imaginary American empire. We are going in to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, which necessarily requires removal of the Saddam Hussein regime, which in turn means the liberation of the Iraqi people.

In the disarmament process we are seeking to minimize civilian casualties and economic and infrastructure damage to Iraq, all of which would impede our long-term effort to restore Iraq at the conclusion of this operation. We are trying to preserve their oil supplies for the enrichment of the Iraqis, not ourselves. Following the war we will lead the effort to build a democratic Iraqi state and repair the physical damage we inflict in the assault. Please tell me what could possibly be objectionable about these goals?

It is time we shifted the burden to the detractors to prove their recommended alternatives are not detrimental to the United States. Perhaps they should explain to us what they mean by their nonsensical charge that George Bush failed in diplomacy.

When we talk about using diplomacy to avoid war, we ordinarily mean discussions between adversarial nations -- in this instance between the allied forces on one side and Iraq on the other. But when the detractors speak of diplomacy they're mostly talking about intramural communications between America and possible allies.

Antiwar forces have become obsessed with coalition building to the point of losing sight of the real goal of disarming Iraq. The purpose of this exercise, my leftist friends, is not for the United States to win an international popularity contest, but to achieve, by whatever means necessary, the emasculation of Iraq's ability to wage war with weapons of mass destruction and support terrorists against America and its allies.

Regardless, the Bush administration cannot be fairly charged with a diplomatic failure of either type -- that with United Nations member states or that with Iraq. We exhausted all reasonable efforts to resolve this dispute through words.

Think about it. Concerning diplomacy between America and Iraq, you can't force an unwilling dictator to disarm through words alone. Saddam played games with us for 12 years. That should be enough to convince all but the most obtuse that he was not going to disarm voluntarily.

As for diplomacy between America and U.N. nations, how could we possibly have achieved our goal by talking further with the recalcitrant French or Hans Blix or Kofi Annan? The United Nations didn't even want to follow its own resolutions. It was pleased to relieve Saddam of his obligation to prove that he'd disarmed and undertake the quixotic endeavor of finding nuclear needles in Iraq's vast haystack.

The entire premise of giving Saddam just a little more time, and then just a little more time, was incurably flawed because it is virtually impossible to disarm a nation whose leader is playing hide the ball. The fact that not all members of the United Nations security counsel agreed with us about this irrefutable truth is their fault, not ours. They must shoulder the blame for any resulting diplomatic breakdown. To continue this charade into the indefinite future, as the objectors urged, would have been utterly reckless to our interests, giving Saddam time to complete development of his coveted nukes.

Now for the unpleasant truth -- unpleasant, that is, for the detractors. Since there was no way to get some of our own allies off dead center through negotiation and even less to talk Saddam into disarming, the only way we could have resolved this matter diplomatically is if we had given in, sacrificing our national security interests for the sake of just getting along.

President Bush exhibited extraordinary patience going down the diplomacy road. Those now castigating President Bush for his "failure of diplomacy" are either hopelessly naive or pushing futile diplomacy as cover for their immovable opposition to using military force against Iraq. The detractors continue to cry peace, but the peace they advocate ultimately would spell catastrophe for America.

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David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.