Jewish World Review August 21, 2002 / 14 Elul, 5762

Zev Chafets

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No time for weak knees on Iraq | Brent Scowcroft, the Miss Cleo of geopolitics, has recently been anointed spokesman for America's anti-warriors. I think they're going to need a new spokesman.

As national security adviser under George Bush senior, he counseled keeping the Soviet Union intact and predicted that America would be better off leaving Saddam Hussein in power at the end of the Gulf War.

Lately, Scowcroft and his crystal ball have reappeared. In a now-famous Op-Ed article in The Wall Street Journal, the seer of Ogden, Utah, conceded that Saddam Hussein is a bad man, but argued that there's no proof he is in league with Islamic terrorists and no certain evidence that he intends to do America any harm. Scowcroft's prescription today is the same as it was in 1991 - appeasement.

On Sunday, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger appeared on Fox TV to defend the Scowcroft Doctrine. Eagleburger has his eccentricities - all three of his sons are named Lawrence - but he is an honest man, and under questioning he reluctantly conceded that, Scowcroft notwithstanding, the United States will have to fight Saddam sooner or later.

"I'm not at all sure that I believe it has to be done right now," Eagleburger said.

Interviewer Brit Hume looked puzzled. "Mr. Secretary, if you believe that eventually we're going to have to deal with [Saddam] and you believe he is an evil man intent on harm to his neighbors and that he has had weapons of mass destruction in the past and has been trying now, without any inspectors, to get them, you seem to be arguing that we wait until he's stronger to attack him."

Eagleburger blushed and conceded that his opinion was "confusing."

Sunday exposed the intellectual weakness (not to say disingenuousness) of the Scowcroftians. On Monday, having sized up the opposition, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld retaliated with a homespun knee to the groin.

"I was thinking the other day," he reminisced to Bret Brier of Fox TV. "I had a friend from high school whose wife was being harassed by a neighbor. And they went to court, and they asked the court to issue a restraining order against that person. And the woman was killed. And I went back for the funeral. And the mailman arrived at the door and handed [my friend] a letter. ... They declined to issue a restraining order. There wasn't good enough evidence."

Here, in an anecdote, is the administration's entire argument for war.

Sure there's no proof that Saddam is going to help Al Qaeda or Hezbollah or some other terror group fire a nuke at the Capitol or spray sarin gas in Grand Central Terminal. But there is a strong possibility that he will. In a court of law, Saddam gets the benefit of the doubt. In the real world, better safe than sorry.

To win the national debate they started last week, the anti-warriors need a convincing alternative narrative to Rumsfeld's visceral story.

They don't have one so far, and they won't find one in the weak-kneed warnings of discredited geopolitical psychics.

In fact, if we are lucky, they won't find one at all. At least until the war is over.

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JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

08/16/02: A pro-Arab pol may get the beating she deserves
08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News