Jewish World Review Oct. 21, 2002/ 15 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

More hard cheese
from our 'allies' | A soft answer can turn away wrath, but maybe not Saddam Hussein. The cheese merchants of France and the arms salesmen of Russia and China shouldn't celebrate just yet.

The French are leading the resistance at the United Nations to doing anything about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction, and yesterday George W. and his men appeared to soften their demand for a tough authorization for action if, as expected, Saddam continues to taunt the West with bluster, deception and bloviation.

The cheese merchants are fronting for a coalition of the usual troublemakers, in particular China and Russia, together with the usual weak and the forever unwilling who are terrified of doing anything to risk a prosperous trade with the enemy. The French, always eager to accommodate their enemies at the expense of their friends, prescribe another round of resolutions if the first one doesn't work. If that doesn't work, the U.N. will have no choice but to consider adopting more resolutions.

John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., continued to insist in debate yesterday that Washington doesn't want to use force but it is ready to do so if Saddam does not give up its weapons of mass destruction.

"We are considering the reactions we have received and will be placing before the council, in the near future," he said, "a resolution with clear and immediate requirements - requirements that Iraq would voluntarily meet if it chooses to cooperate."

The sudden U.S. talk of resolutions could send the wrong signals, as well as heartburn to those who have stood solidly with the president, given the well-known Republican instinct for retreat at the first sound of popguns. But George W. long ago made it clear that he's the rare animal, a Republican who means business. He knows as well as anyone that if he's the first to blink it's back to the ranch, where he can join Jimmy Carter as a presidential day laborer.

Diplomats from the toy countries lined up yesterday at the Security Council to warn Washington against effective action, that the arms inspectors must first go to Baghdad to do their job (whatever that job turns out to be).

The weak and the unwilling had already won concessions from George W., who wanted explicit U.N. approval - approval, not permission - of the American determination to decide when and where to strike, but agreed to soften that demand. Now they want to further expand Saddam's comfort zone, by delaying an attack until the Security Council's 15 states can "consult" and blubber at length and leisure if the arms inspectors wind up with nothing to show for their tenure in Baghdad but a suitcase full of dirty underwear.

So far George W. has not committed himself to waiting while the French dawdle over their cheeses (the attack on the French merchant ship Limberg in Yemen was the unkindest slice of all) and the diplomatic magpies gossip and gab to give Saddam more time to adjust his anthrax recipes, fine-tune his mustard-gas cannisters and tinker with his nuclear weapons.

"The United States believes that the best way to ensure Iraqi compliance is through one resolution that is firm and ambiguous," said Mr. Negroponte, in the necessary recital of the perfectly obvious.

Non, non, said Jean-Davis Levitte, the French ambassador to the U.N. "The council must demonstrate fairness by showing Iraq that war was not inevitable if it fully and scrupulously fulfills its obligations." This is the classic escape hatch, of course: It all depends on the meaning of "scrupulously" and "fulfill." Not all clintonclauses originate in Arkansas.

The weekend carnage in Bali, demonstrating the depth of the Islamist grudge against civilization, stiffened a few spines on yonder side of the Atlantic. A poll by London's Guardian, the engine of British opposition to opposition to Saddam, finds a sharp increase in sentiment to do something. Support for a military solution jumped 10 points in less than a week, from 32 percent to 42 percent. Now only one in three British voters agrees with the proposition that the United States and Britain "took their eye off the ball" by concentrating on Iraq instead of al Qaeda.

This is good news for Tony Blair, who has not flinched in the face of the peacenik clamor for hunkering down in the wan hope that if the Brits are nice the terrorists would pull their punches.

"Some say we should fight terrorism alone and that the issues of weapons of mass destruction are a distraction," he told the House of Commons this week. "I reject that entirely. Both, though different in means, are the same in nature."

Some of his constituents who had been trying to persuade themselves that George W. was exaggerating the menace have thought again, and suddenly the villain of the piece might not be the man in Washington after all. A late education is expensive, but it's better than no education at all.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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

Wesley Pruden Archives

© 2002 Wes Pruden