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Jewish World Review August 12, 2002 / 4 Elul, 5762

Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney
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The preemptive strike | It is possible to imagine a time in five years, after New York and Washington have been destroyed and millions of people killed with biological or nuclear weapons. Won't those Americans left alive ask why we didn't attack and eliminate Saddam Hussein years before when we could have done it easily? Like in 2002.

Unfortunately, it's easy to imagine our living to regret an all-out attack on Iraq, too. We simply don't know what capacity Hussein has to retaliate. A great many Americans would object to our attacking another nation for any reason. There are people with strong moral objections to our being the aggressor. Even though we would have saved a lot of time, trouble and American lives if we'd attacked Germany before Hitler conquered all of Europe, opposition to our entry into World War II was strong . It was hard to convince the American people that we had to go to war even after Hitler had moved into France. Stories about concentration camps where Jews were being murdered seemed like propaganda designed to suck us into a war that was none of our business. President Roosevelt was even accused of baiting the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor as a trick to get the American people to support our entry into the war.

It seems likely that most Americans do not think we should attack Iraq. In spite of public sentiment, there is evidence that the Bush administration is ignoring us and proceeding on a course that's going to take us to war. It scares the hell out of me, but I would not want to have to put my name on a petition opposing such a move.

Hussein has refused to let U.N. observers see what he's doing. We have to trust that President Bush and his military advisors know things about Saddam Hussein, his weapons and his intentions, that we do not. What our military people know must make an attack an urgent necessity or they wouldn't be planning one. I hope. We have to put a lot of trust in some people who haven't been very trustworthy. As Americans, we have to believe they know what they're doing. We don't like it, but the alternative, if we were wrong and substantial parts of the United States were destroyed, is too terrible to contemplate.

Most Americans don't know Iran from Iraq, or either one from Saudi Arabia. Iraq is a little bigger than California in square miles. Iran has the most people, 66 million; Saudi Arabia the most land, if you call sand land. It's three times as big as Texas. Iraq has only 23 million people, slightly more than Saudi Arabia.

These three countries are swimming in oil. The people don't have to lift a finger to prosper. It's as if they have a money tree and only have to shake it to get what they want. They have very little industry and little farming.

The people in important positions in our government are not agreed on who the bad guys are in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is on our official list of "friends," but a recent study presented to top-ranking Pentagon officials said that "Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." The report went on to say that Saudi Arabia "is the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.

That briefing included a suggestion that if Saudi Arabia didn't cease its anti-American activities, we should move in and take over its oil fields. This is macho stuff that a segment of our population loves. I'm a little soft on it myself. The idea of gas for 50 cents a gallon is appealing. Saudi Arabia couldn't do much about it if we decided to move in. The nation's military forces are weak and they don't have Saddam Hussein's nuclear or biological weapons.

There are just so many countries we can take on as enemies. We better start making more friends. If we move on Iraq, and it looks as if that's what we're going to do, I hope President George W. Bush is da-n sure we know what we're doing.

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