Jewish World Review July 13, 2005/ 6 Taamuz 5765


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The Left has to stop blaming Bush for terrorism, his policy is our only hope | It's not surprising that one of the dumbest comments (and there were scores) following the murders in London last week was issued by Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone. Wenner is a canny businessman, a Baby Boomer entrepreneur who parlayed his idolatry of rock 'n' roll stars into fabulous wealth and celebrity, but his understanding of politics has always been na´ve. His first question for a RS interview to newly elected president Bill Clinton in the summer of 1993 was "Are you having fun?"

Contributing to the blog The Huffington Post on July 7, less than 24 hours after al-Qaeda bombs took the lives of more than 50 civilians, Wenner wrote the following. "Amid all the optimism surrounding Blair, Bono & Geldolf doing Live 8 and G-8, and the award of that most wonderful and pacific of international institutions and global brotherhood—the Olympics—what a grim thing to have happened. Violence rarely gets us anywhere; the PLO, the IRA, the SLA, among others have achieved so little with their terrorism. If the London bombings are the work of an Al Qaeda offshoot, then you have to fairly say, in the same way we condemn other's terror, this is in part the result of Bush's War on Iraq."

Never mind that the 1972 Olympic games in Munich were hardly "pacific," or that Bob Geldolf's pop extravaganza to raise awareness about poverty in Africa was a well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless, feel-good exercise. Rather, it's the narrow-minded and reflexive view of Wenner, and indeed a majority of left-wingers, that "Bush's war" in Iraq—as if Saddam Hussein, whose brutality as dictator of that country conveniently recedes for some into history, was a beneficent leader—is the reason people are slaughtered by jihadists is simplistic.

As I recall, the first (and mostly botched) attack on the World Trade Center occurred in 1993, when Clinton was president and the United States wasn't at war with any country. In addition, during the 90s, the terrorist attacks in Kenya, Nairobi and the USS Cole, were carried out by fanatics who hated the Western world's culture, and not a specific Washington administration.

What do Wenner and his political soulmates believe was the cause of the 9/11 devastation? Oh, I forgot: Bush was at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, clearing brush instead of heeding "chatter" gathered by intelligence agencies.

Similarly, the elite media are in a hand-wringing dither about the latest atrocities. Consider the lead two paragraphs of Julie Hirschfeld Davis' July 8 Sun news account, headlined "Attacks could build Bush's support." She writes: "For President Bush, who has made fighting terrorism a driving focus of his presidency, the London bombings were a brutal illustration of his frequent admonition that 'the war on terror goes on.'

"But the attack in Britain, the closest U.S. ally, also pointed up a harsh reality for Bush: that four years after 9/11 and his declaration of war on terrorism, Western democracies remain vulnerable to incidents on their own soil."

At first glance, those words might seem bland, even perfunctory, but in reality they display a deep misunderstanding of all that Bush, and his administration, have said for the past four years. The President never claimed that his foreign policy— however activist and far-sighted, as opposed to Clinton's approach—could possibly end terrorism during his White House tenure. After the end of World War II, America was engaged in a decades long "cold war" with the Soviet Union; the first part of the 21st century will surely be defined, at least politically and militarily, by the war against terrorists.

Let's ignore, for the sake of argument, the vocal critics of Bush who blindly hate Bush and oppose, automatically, any action, no matter how benign, the administration takes. So forget conspiracist-for-hire Michael Moore, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Maxine Waters, Whoopi Goldberg, Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman and nearly anyone who writes for The Nation.

Concentrate instead on the very sizable number of citizens, mostly Democrats but not exclusively so, generally reasonable people who are simply muddleheaded when the topic of how the U.S. should conduct itself in a shrinking, combustible world. Their starting point is invariably Iraq, a "quagmire" they find so painfully unpleasant and inextricable that they just want immediate withdrawal, ignoring that such a pullout would vastly increase the death, destruction and terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.

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It's often said that Bush should've have concentrated solely on the capture of Osama bin Laden, and left Saddam Hussein in power, despite the fact that the latter was not only paying off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers $25,000 for the murder of Israelis, but still brazenly defying sanctions imposed by the United Nations as well.

Does anyone really believe, objectively, that Saddam, still in control, wouldn't just be marking time to wreak havoc against the West in general, and Israel in particular?

The naysayers—who agreed with Clinton in the late 90s that Saddam was a menace—now argue that the Islamic fascists dedicated to the obliteration of non-believers would never have sullied themselves with the secular Saddam. That attitude invariably recalls the appeasers of half a century ago who thought Hitler wouldn't team up with non-Aryan allies.

Bush's audacious foreign policy, which has tipped over the traditional playing board in the Middle East, won't be realized during his second term. And perhaps it will be in vain. But his defiant stand in taking the war to the jihadists, on their home turf, is far more courageous—morally and politically—than doing nothing aside from chasing bin Laden and hoping that everything will turn out okay.

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- was the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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