Jewish World Review Jan. 29, 2003 / 26 Shevat, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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A bit of the jitters | Oil prices soared when Secretary of State Colin Powell said it would be clear by the end of January that Iraq was flouting the UN resolution calling upon it to disarm.

Two mechanized infantry divisions and three more aircraft carrier battle groups have been ordered to Persian Gulf. Thousands of reservists are being ordered to active duty. War is near.

War will not be deterred by foot-dragging at the United Nations, or by jitters at home. Only Saddam's abdication can prevent it. War will commence when sufficient force has been assembled and acclimatized -- sometime in late February or early March - or sooner, should Saddam choose to launch a pre-emptive attack.

For reasons both economic and military, President Bush knows that now that he has put the war machine in motion, he must act soon after it is in place. The deployment will cost about a billion dollars a month, and this time the Saudis and the Japanese won't be picking up most of the tab. The stock market is stuttering because of uncertainty about war. It won't begin to climb steadily until the business in Iraq has been concluded.

The military would like to finish in Iraq before summer begins. But the impediment desert heat poses to military operations has been exaggerated. Americans fight chiefly at night, when it is cool. And because we have more and better equipment than the Iraqis, and train more, we are better prepared to fight in the summer heat.

The military argument for urgency is concern about having too many of our military resources tied up in one region, doing nothing. The massive deployment disrupts normal rotations, and lowers our guard in other areas of the world. Prolonged idleness by the expeditionary force would harm morale and lower readiness. And it's no accident why North Korea picked now to pick a quarrel with the United States.

Doves at home and abroad say: Why not give UN weapons inspectors more time? The better question is: Why give them more time? It is clear both that Iraq is in material breach, and that many in the UN do not wish to come to grips with the implications of this fact.

Doves have a "heads I win, tails you lose" argument. If inspectors find more evidence Iraq has violated the resolution the UN passed calling upon it to disarm, they'll say this is "proof" the inspections are working. If the inspectors find no more illegal weapons, the doves will say there isn't enough evidence to justify an attack.

Polls indicate popular support for the military action against Iraq is fading, and that most Americans do not favor an attack without UN approval. But the president knows this is meaningless. It is normal and natural for there to be jitters when war is near. The public expressed similar doubts before the first Gulf War. Only 46 percent of Americans supported military action against Iraq in the last Gallup poll taken before that conflict began.

The president knows that if the war goes badly, he'll be in political trouble even if the UN Security Council unanimously blessed the attack. And Bush knows that if the war goes well, those who are criticizing him now will be trying to convince people they were actually always really on his side. Victory has a thousand fathers. Defeat is an orphan.

Whether or not the Security Council approves military action against Iraq will have a much greater impact on the future of the United Nations than on whether or not a U.S.-led coalition will be successful. The United States will have the support of all the countries whose support will be of material benefit. All the UN can lend is moral support. Granting that support does not contribute to military success, and withholding it will carry no stigma for the United States if military operations succeed.

But withholding support could have grave consequences for the United Nations. If, in postwar Iraq, people joyously celebrate their liberation, and there is clear and convincing evidence of weapons of mass destruction, then the UN will have proven to be not merely impotent, as the League of Nations was against fascist aggression in the 1930s, but on the wrong side. If the UN isn't careful, it could follow Saddam Hussein into the ashheap of history.

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01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly