Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2003/ 11 Elul, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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A little help now from our friends | War games are useful for the generals, but war is not a game. This is over the heads of some of our pols, pundits and faculty-lounge philosophers.

George W. Bush, like presidents before him, is learning to revise war strategy, following the reliable adage that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. His critics don't understand that if the president and his men fail in Iraq, we all fail.

It's foolish to climb on the rooftops to crow, but giving in to temptation is irresistible for some of the partisans. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, typical of the Democrats yearning to play I-told-you-so politics, barely suppresses a chortle when he tells a television interviewer that Secretary of State Colin Powell is going to the United Nations "on bended knee" to beg for the help the Bush administration scorned only weeks ago.

The critics, who can't give up their obsessive yearning for the "quagmire" they wouldn't recognize if they saw it, are not exactly cheering the Saddamy bedeviling U.S. and British troops in Iraq, but the suicide bomb is the silver lining in the dark cloud hovering over Democratic prospects for recapturing the White House. If the Ba'athist thugs can keep it up through the next 12 months, there may yet be hope for the demoralized party that once gave us, as unlikely as it sounds today, unflinching wartime presidents like FDR and Harry Truman.

The president's critics are trying, first of all, to make Colin Powell pay for his loyalty to George W. Hence, the snide Lautenberg mockery and the Democratic delight in watching the secretary of state begging the likes of France and Germany.

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The president's eagerness to try something new when the old isn't working is not only inevitable, but ultimately good politics. Nearly everyone agrees that the coalition - "the Anglo-Saxons," in Jacques Chirac's Gallic sneer - cannot leave the liberation of Iraq unfinished. When by whatever strategy the liberation succeeds, as it will because it must, difficulties will be forgotten.

We've been here before. The North Africa campaign of 1942 was a catastrophe of premature ambition, poor planning and miserable execution, but it was followed by brilliant strokes in Sicily, Italy, and eventually Normandy, and Dwight Eisenhower is remembered as genius, not goat. Guadalcanal and Okinawa were difficult early on, for which Americans paid dearly in blood sacrifice, but they too are remembered as strokes of genius tactics and strategy.

Mr. Powell, perhaps driven by his instinctive loyalty to the commander in chief, says an account in The Washington Post that he and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to pressure George W. to get him to ask for European help, is "total fiction." Nevertheless, it's clear now that the combat troops who made quick work of Saddam's mighty soldiery need help in directing traffic, patching up the plumbing, and dealing with the vandals, plunderers and pillagers who are making life miserable for the Iraqi people. With a little help, they can direct their efforts at the saboteurs and marauding killers pouring into Iraq from neighboring satrapies.

Not by coincidence, Mr. Powell's overtures to the Germans and the French were accompanied by a warning to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, delivered by his foreign secretary, that the situation in Iraq is "deteriorating" and new strategies are needed.

The British, who have deployed 10,000 men, far fewer than the 140,000 Americans, are concerned about "diplomatic isolation," a shortage of cash and the prospects that devout Islamists will celebrate Ramadan, which begins Oct. 27, by slaying hundreds of innocent women and children as a rite of the religion of peace.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy to Don Rumsfeld, argues in London's Daily Telegraph that the terrorist attacks are meant to "test our will," that the coalition "will win if we continue to give them the moral and material support they need."

All true, but the heavy lifting will continue to be done by "the Anglo-Saxons," as it always is when the Europeans look for someone to save them from their inept selves. Gerhard Schroeder says the idea of contributing German troops makes him "want to puke," and the rest of the world will give him no argument. Puking is the natural aversion to armed Germans.

Yesterday, Herr Schroeder joined M. Chirac in Dresden in haughty disdain of the first American attempt to enlist assistance. Then they chug-a-lugged steins of beer in celebration.

The draft resolution scorned by the Germans and the French seeks not only a U.N. mandate for an international military force under American command, but invites the Iraqi Governing Council to set its own timetable for elections to be administered by Americans.

More to the point, U.N. sanction would open the way for troops not in berets and jackboots, but seasoned, competent men from Pakistan, India and Turkey. Such soldiers, understanding that war is more than a game, have fought well with (and not against) "the Anglo-Saxons" in campaigns past, and would do so again.

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

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