Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2002/ 7 Tishrei, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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Finally, George W. speaks for himself | George W. Bush told the United Nations to put up or shut up, and just in time.

We had heard enough from Colin, Don, Condi, and the men who left the Gulf war unfinished to thoroughly disguise the president's intentions.

Yesterday he finally talked the talk.

"The Security Council resolutions will be enforced," the president told the U.N. General Assembly. "The just demands of peace and security will be met. Or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."

Translation (we think) from diplo-speak to bunkhouse English: "You guys have adopted your mouthy resolutions, using all the right words. Nobody, least of all Saddam Hussein, thinks you really mean any of it. But I mean what I say. You've got the bluster, but I've got the bombs. Just get out of the way."

Now the Europeans and the Democrats in Congress will stand back to see if he really means to walk the walk.

"No one who heard President Bush's speech could be in any doubt about the urgency of dealing with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein," Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, said.

Everyone, even the Europeans, have seen the urgency for weeks. Not everyone has wanted to do anything about it. Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, for example. Echoing the U.N. delegates who imagine they were sent to New York to enjoy the sweet life in Manhattan, but not necessarily to disturb tyrants or disrupt the evil they do, Mr. Daschle said "questions" about Saddam's intentions still have to be "answered," and besides, his partisan colleagues in the Senate want to see the reaction of "the international community" before they authorize force to eliminate Saddam's ability to slice, dice and fry Americans by the millions (and maybe even South Dakotans by the dozens).

All this will change in a nanosecond once the argument is over, the troops are on the way and the bombs begin to fall on Baghdad. Tom Daschle will bump Dick Gephardt out of the way to be the first in front of the cameras, decked out in his varsity sweater emblazoned with a big B, leading cheers.

The Republicans want to give the president a resolution sooner than later, in advance of whatever the United Nations doesn't do. "We must vote to show support for the president right now," Sen. Trent Lott, the leader of the party, said last night. John McCain, for once, eagerly agreed. He promised to twist Tom Daschle's arm.

The Democrats in Congress, particularly in the Senate, want to wait until after the November elections to debate a resolution in support of the president. That way they can avoid offending anyone before Nov. 5. Otherwise, the Democrats will put themselves in the position of Gov. Bill Clinton on the eve of the Gulf war, when he wanted to please the Democratic dovecote, but was afraid of the good ol' boys. So he told reporters later, after Congress adopted the resolution in support of the war, that he would have voted for it, but he actually agreed with those who voted against it. (It was the first inkling of what was in store for the Union, that Arkansas would finally get even for Appomattox.)

The president's decision to humor the United Nations is surely one last genuflection to multicultural moonshine, of a piece with love songs sung over the months since September 11 to Muslims who regard Jews as apes, admonitions to American schoolgirls to find Arab pen pals, to learn the lyrics of Islamic hymns of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, that the Saudi imams don't really mean it when they pray to Allah to "destroy the Jews and their supporters, destroy the Christians and their supporters and followers, shake the ground under them, instill fear in their hearts and freeze the blood in their veins." (You can get all the words by tuning in to Friday prayers on almost any Arab television or radio station.)

Learning to love your enemies is all very nice, and maybe even necessary, but not when they've got a lot of really bad bugs and canisters of phosgene. When combined with wishy, such presidential rhetoric comes out washy. This is not rhetoric to fire up men who will shortly be asked to risk their lives - some to give their lives - to enforce a president's will. Men will follow a leader to hell and back, but few will die to make the world safe for pen pals.

George W. Bush is never better than when he talks tough and sounds as if he means it. His stance as a man willing to go it alone if necessary - the stance that the White House spinmeisters insisted last night was merely media malarkey - is precisely what bolstered the confidence of his countrymen over the past 12 months. It might have been the shot of testosterone to bestir the delegates of the United Nations General Assembly. Maybe, when Saddam Hussein next flaunts his contempt for U.N. resolutions, the delegates will screw up enough courage to adopt another resolution. But the president wasn't talking to the world yesterday. He was talking past the world to us, and what he said sounded just about right to the Americans who will be called on to finish the job.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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