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Jewish World Review March 7, 2001/ 12 Adar 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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The dazzling triumph of Saddam Hussein -- GOVERNORS make great candidates for president and they usually have a solid grasp of domestic affairs, better than anyone in Washington, and what the people beyond the Beltway really want.

But they usually don't have a clue about what goes on beyond the seas.

Jimmy Carter meant well, and he was a disaster, as we were quickly to learn. The Iranians took hostages because they figured, accurately, that he wouldn't do anything about it.

Ronald Reagan was the exception to the rule that governors don't know beans about foreign affairs. Sacramento was merely a whistle-stop on the Gipper's journey to Washington, and he came to the presidency with a well-formed view of the world, who the bad guys were and what he could, and would, do about them. The result was the end of the Cold War on American terms. The world, just now beginning to realize it, will owe him forever.

Bill Clinton arrived in town ready to feel everyone's pain, and just in time to inherit a nation with a large component of crybabies eager to parade their pain. He was a boffo hit at home, but Saddam Hussein hung him out to dry on the road and Yasser Arafat ironed him flat. He left office with the consolation that he not only wrecked Al Gore's campaign, he wrecked Ehud Barak's government.

Which brings us to George W. Bush. The Texas governor is a bit of a genetic anomaly, the son of a president who knew all about foreign affairs and who didn't have much interest in the domestic stuff. He got bounced because Bill Clinton felt a lot of pain.

George W. had a front-row seat for that campaign, and saw what happened to the old man, and he would make sure that wouldn't happen to him. And so he didn't, and hasn't. He's sticking by a tax cut popular with nearly everyone. You can tell it's popular because the Democrats are pushing a smaller tax cut, and if they hadn't lost the election you can be sure they wouldn't offer a tax cut at all. Democratic hearts break at the prospect of enabling plain folks to spend their own money.


If George W. maintains his present schedule we won't need to hire those additional teachers. He'll teach the kids himself. He's hopscotching across America, dropping in on every schoolroom with an empty blackboard and a book that he can read to the kids. Good politics. He can measure his success in breaking down partisan hard feeling by the noise of Democrats grumbling that he's not playing fair. He's supposed to be an old meanie, but nobody any longer thinks that. Well, maybe Maxine Waters.

Unfortunately, his lack of attention to what's going on across the waters (as they say in rural Texas) is about to incur costs. Colin Powell's trip to the Middle East, offering Saddam Hussein everything he wants without extracting anything in return, was either a stunning miscalculation or an astonishing reach for power.

If the general's offer of concessions to Saddam — a "refinement" of sanctions and softening of the demand for inspection of suspect sites of weapons of mass destruction — was settled administration policy before he left for the Middle East the administration made a breathtaking mistake in not offering an explanation for this remarkable U-turn in U.S. policy. Worse, if the general made the concessions on his own.

Saddam's ambitions are clear enough. The first President Bush vowed, on the eve of the Gulf war, that "this aggression will not stand." And for a few incredible weeks, as American and allied forces routed the Iraqi army with dazzling speed and efficiency, it looked like George H.W. Bush was right. The aggression would not stand.

But in the end it did. General Powell persuaded President Bush to end the war just as Saddam was teetering on the eve of destruction. With the war having ended prematurely — imagine World War II as ending with the liberation of Paris —Saddam was free to rebuild his shattered army and resume his research and manufacture of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Vice President Cheney says that returning the United Nations inspectors to Iraq, to determine what Saddam is up to as set out in United Nations resolutions, is no longer as important as we were told it was. This may be an attempt to save the general's face.

But Colin Powell himself told us how important the inspections were just before he left for the Middle East. The secretary, and presumably the president, now believe that "refined" sanctions will bring the Arab and European allies, such as they are, back into step with the United States. The betting here is that this will never happen, and United Nations inspectors have seen the last of Iraq. Aggression stands, Saddam won, and 148 American men and women died for — what?

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


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02/28/01: Who won that war? Best not to look
02/26/01: Bonnie & Clod, gifts who keep on giving
02/21/01: It's Hot Springs week in downtown Harlem
02/13/01: Some of our riots seem to be missing
02/07/01: When a hate crime is something to love
02/07/01: Lifting a few spoons, cutting a few taxes
02/02/01: A few small surprises and a large lesson
01/31/01: Serving fried crow in the press mess
01/26/01: The gathering storm over Jesse Jackson
01/23/01: A graceless getaway, a graceful beginning
01/19/01: Once more to wave the bloody shirt
01/16/01: Bring on the lions, the clowns are ready
01/12/01: The dastardly plot to restore slavery
01/10/01: Mr. Lott's generosity to the Dems
01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden