Jewish World Review March 12, 2003 / 8 Adar II, 5763

Edward I. Koch

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"There they go again"? Not quite! | I watched President George W. Bush's press conference on Thursday, March 6, and came away extremely impressed and reassured. He was in total command of the facts of the Iraqi and Korean crises and clearly unafraid to do what he believes to be in the best interests of the country.

The President's Cabinet is made up of a first-class team of experts on foreign policy, military and national security issues who have an intimate knowledge of the facts provided by our intelligence agencies. Bush's team -- Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice -- is equal in ability, expertise and intelligence to any Cabinet in recent memory. If it becomes necessary, they support the President's decision to forge ahead diplomatically and militarily on both Iraq and North Korea, as do I. The Left disparages Bush as they disparaged Reagan. But Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, Bill Keller of The New York Times and many others who have had direct contact with the President find him very able, as do I.

The President and his Cabinet are doing what many of us hoped they would with regard to North Korea. They seek a diplomatic solution, but it is clear the U.S. will not flinch at the threats made by the North Koreans. I have no doubt that we are prepared to bomb its nuclear facilities, if North Korea persists in threatening to blackmail the U.S. and the world through an expressed intention to manufacture more nuclear bombs, and implicitly to sell them to others including terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, as it has its ballistic missiles to Yemen.

37,000 U.S. soldiers sit on the border between North and South Korea at the DMZ acting as a tripwire, putting North Korea on notice that, in the event of invasion by North Korea, the U.S. will commence an all-out war in which the U.S. will immediately rally to the defense of our service personnel and to the side of South Korea. However, Rumsfeld's latest message to South Korea which, regrettably, has favored appeasement of the North, is that he is considering shifting U.S. troops out of South Korea to other countries and possibly even back home to the U.S. If South Korea wants to sit back in the face of North Korean aggression, that is its right, but not at our expense. The new South Korean president appears to take Neville Chamberlain as his model, not Winston Churchill.

Removing U.S. troops from South Korea will test the Japanese government's resolve as well. Japan is currently supporting the U.S. at the U.N. with respect to Iraq, but in the face of strong public opposition in Japan to the presence of U.S. troops and U.S. facilities. We should let the Japanese people know that they run the risk of removal, in part or of all of our troops, from the Islands of Japan; that we will not stay where we are not wanted; and, that they need to make clear we are truly welcome and not merely guests who have overstayed their welcome.

On Iraq, Rumsfeld should consider issuing a statement to Saddam Hussein advising him on what is required to prevent the bombing of Baghdad. To qualify under international agreements for so-called open city status not subject to bombing, the Iraqi government must remove all armed personnel, as well as all mobile missiles and artillery from the city. Fixed position artillery must be disarmed. If Hussein refuses to do so, the civilian population of Baghdad should be informed by leafleting and radio and television announcements that they have 48 hours to evacuate before Baghdad may be subject to intense bombing. Thereafter, responsibility for all civilian casualties will become that of Saddam Hussein. Saving lives of American and allied personnel and reducing their casualties has to be the first priority of the U.S. government.

The New York City Council is considering passing this week Resolution 549A on the Iraqi crisis. The resolution, as of last week, had 29 sponsors who, as The New York Times described, "lined up behind a revised version that was changed to appease some who saw the first draft as more critical of President Bush than of Saddam Hussein." The sponsors include Speaker Gifford Miller. In my judgment, the current resolution, even with its changes in language, is a serious mistake and places the city in opposition to our national policy on Iraq, as expressed by the President and adopted by both Houses of the U.S. Congress. For the City Council to oppose the President and the Congress, when the residents of this city are deeply split on the issue, can only create an animus against the city by the President and a majority of the Congress when we so desperately need their support and assistance now and in the future. The response in Washington to the passage of such a resolution is likely to be "there they go again." That will not be helpful to New York City's future.

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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.

03/05/03: Making the case for war on British TV left some panelists stunned
02/20/03: Death penalty=racism? Don't confuse them with the facts
02/12/03: History is now repeating itself --- why don't the American bashers grasp it?
02/05/03: As the world turns
01/30/03: Why are sports exempt from racial diversity and universities encouraged to engage in racial preferences over individual academic achievement?
01/23/03: We absolutely can't back down
11/13/02: President blunted the Ted Kennedys of Democrat party --- good for him!
10/23/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate is no private citizen and his 'defenses' are idiotic
10/01/02: Congress is not doing its job
09/26/02: Confronting pathetic Americans in a post 9-11 world
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