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Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2003 / 28 Shevat, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Newsweek, Nation ponder pros, cons of Gulf War II | Let's roll, already!

Who cares what those Euro-weenies in Paris think? The Limeys are with us. So are Spain and Bulgaria.

Why wait till mid-March? Gulf War II is another $100 billion high-tech war America can't possibly lose. It's going to be Dream Team 1 all over again.

Hold your horses, Col. North. As Newsweek points out in "War and Consequences," its latest War in Iraq prep course, the bombing and bayoneting of our way to downtown Baghdad will be relatively easy.

It's winning the peace and dealing with the consequences of an uninvited military intervention in a strange, dangerous and backward part of the world that will be long, hard and probably bloody.

Before we go completely negative on the war, it should be noted that, although Newsweek is generally skeptical of the Bush administration's positions, it achieves a reasonable balance by including "Looking on the Bright Side" by Fareed Zakaria.

Zakaria says many good things could, but probably won't, happen after we remove Saddam and capture Iraq:

A major evil nation in the region will be gone. The Iraqi people will be free and on the road to prosperity. Political and economic reform in the region will be quickened. The cause of radical anti-Westernism will be fatally wounded. The OPEC oil cartel will break up. And falling oil prices will force the religious despots who rule the Arab world to reform or go into exile.

Zakaria is hopeful that even if only a few of these good things occur, a war will have positive lasting effects on the region and the whole Muslim world. Basically, he says to give war a chance, because it'll change everything and everything is horrible now.

In "Perils of Victory," however, Christopher Dickey says what many war hawks worry about but never get around to mentioning out loud: the American occupation of Iraq will not miraculously bring peace, harmony and Western freedoms to the Middle East.

More likely, Dickey's gloomiest experts say, a war in Iraq likely will bring violence, chaos and more murderous acts of terrorism. Most of those downsides will occur in places we can't spell, as they have for eons.

But as one Arab intelligence officer warns, they'll also occur more often over here where domestic tranquility and some of our freedoms already have been diminished to make us secure from the terrorism of enemies created by 50 years of previous Middle East interventions.

Whoops. That's the cheap kind of anti-imperialist sound bite you'd hear from a conservative dove such as Pat Buchanan or a leftist dove such as Eric Alterman, the very bright but ideologically disabled columnist at the Nation.

In "USA Oui! Bush Non!," his lengthy Feb. 10 cover piece, Alterman goes in search of "the new European anti-Americanism." He takes the usual left-handed shots at the "unelected" and "unthinking" Bush administration and criticizes America's foreign policy.

But he also points out that, except for the French, during his tour of the Continent he found that the masses of Europeans don't hate America, its people, its ideals or even its imperialist culture. The don't hate what America is, but what its government does in other parts of the world.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald