Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2003 / 10 Adar I, 5763

Edward I. Koch

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History is now repeating itself --- why don't the American bashers grasp it? | It was hard not to be swayed by Secretary of State Colin Powell's compelling presentation at the U.N. Security Council. One prominent opponent to using armed force, General Norman Schwarzkopf, changed his position and now supports military action to enforce U.N. Resolution 1441. However, there are those, including our NATO allies -- France, Germany and Belgium -- who inexcusably refuse to budge from their anti-war stance, no matter how strong the evidence is that Saddam Hussein poses an intolerable risk to world peace and security.

For twelve years, the world has tried unsuccessfully to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, including poison gas and biological agents. Even those who oppose war concede that Saddam Hussein is capable of immediately launching attacks using both gas and disease and will soon have a nuclear capability. They do not even deny that Hussein murdered thousands of Kurds and Iranians using chemical weapons and permanently maimed thousands more with those same weapons.

President Bush and members of his Cabinet point out that not only does Hussein continue to develop and hide weapons of mass destruction, but he is also capable of providing them to terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and many others committed to waging a religious war against Christians and Jews. Osama bin Laden, in his last alleged recorded message to the world, stated that the U.S. must convert to Islam to avoid further terrorism.

In the years before World War II, the leaders of France and Britain tried to save themselves by sacrificing Czechoslovakia to the Nazis. We now know there were some in high places prepared to sacrifice Poland as well.

The world was lucky that King Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor) was forced to abdicate. With war clouds gathering over Europe, the Duke and his wife-to-be, Wallis Simpson, left England and went to Germany to, as Mrs. Simson said, "Be entertained by Herr Hitler." An unforgettable image is that of Edward giving the Nazi salute on one of his trips to Germany. Meanwhile, while Hitler's legions occupied Europe, millions of American isolationists cried out against U.S. involvement in Europe's affairs.

History is now repeating itself. Once again appeasers, isolationists, and others who believe in peace at any price are marching. In opposing military action against Iraq, some say that the destruction of Al Qaeda should be first on the U.S. agenda. Of course Al Qaeda needs to be confronted, and we are doing just that. However, the fight against Al Qaeda will go on for many years since, according to the U.S. security reports, Al Qaeda cells exist in 62 countries. Last weekend, according to The New York Times, the Saudi Arabian government said that after a regime change in Iraq, which the Saudis support, it will expel U.S. forces from its soil, bowing to the demands of Al Qaeda. Fighting Al Qaeda does not mean, however, that we should ignore those like Saddam Hussein, who would arm that terror organization and others with weapons of mass destruction.

Others claim that North Korea, with its demonstrated nuclear capability, should be first on our action list. To the countries immediately affected by North Korea's belligerence - South Korea, China, Russia and Japan - the U.S. should say "It's your problem to solve," while we prevent ballistic missiles and nuclear arms shipments from North Korea to other countries.

In a bizarre editorial, Newsday recently objected to reinforcing our military capability in South Korea, urging, in effect, more appeasement. Newsday is wrong. We should not give in to North Korea's blackmail and acquiesce to its demand that we buy its cooperation, when it has reneged on four earlier agreements. Indeed, a successful military campaign against Iraq may well rein in North Korea, if its neighbors have been unsuccessful in bringing that country to its senses.

President George W. Bush cogently described the goal of the U.S. and our allies around the world as "mak(ing) no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." The American people support the President's objectives, as do a host of governments ranging from a majority in Europe to a majority in the Persian Gulf as well as Turkey, the only Muslim country in NATO.

Incomprehensible and never to be forgotten are the shameful responses of France, Germany and Belgium, three of our NATO allies, who oppose military action against Iraq and have declined to provide assistance to Turkey in advance of an outbreak of hostilities. Now that the Warsaw Alliance no longer exists, perhaps it is time for the U.S. to reexamine its NATO commitments and enter into new treaties with those countries that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calls the New Europe.

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JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.

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09/19/02: Don't be fooled by Saddam
09/05/02: Necessary or not, getting congressional approval for war is common-sense
08/28/02: In defense of terrorism
08/22/02: Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in "Arab street," so why attack him?
08/15/02: My potpourri
08/09/02: Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic'
07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat

© 2002, Edward I. Koch