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Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2003 / 7 Kislev, 5764

Michael Ledeen

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Managing Iraq: We can't continue this way | It's not just our diplomats who do not believe we are in a real war. The Japanese victims of terrorists in Iraq on Saturday were headed for a meeting in Tikrit, to evaluate whether or not the power station there was a worthy recipient of aid. But since the Japanese refuse to acknowledge that they are participating in a war effort, they weren't particularly careful about security, so their car was not armored, they had no weapons with them, and so they were easy prey.

Add them to the growing list of scores of people who have died in Iraq because they assumed that the terrorists wouldn't confuse them with the evil Americans. This little conceit led to such folly as U.N. officers in Baghdad insisting that the Americans remove cement blocks from the approach to their offices, the Red Cross declining protection, and so on. It reminds me of a terrible story some years ago, about a very nice girl from southern California who went to South Africa to help the victims of apartheid. She, too, assumed that she would be protected by her innate goodness, and went to the wrong township one night. Her body was flown back to America a few days later.

This sort of foolishness would not have been possible in the days right after 9/11, but our instant understanding of the world after the terror attacks has long since been diluted by the usual triumph of old reflexes and bureaucratic emphasis on procedure at the expense of content. Thus, we seem not to know who is "behind" the killings (even though the Iranians, Saudis, and Syrians brag about it almost daily), and the Pentagon puts Paul Wolfowitz in one of the most dangerous buildings in Baghdad. Thus, we have Iraqi leaders who are clearly in great doubt about our seriousness and resolve. That, I take it, is the explanation of Ayatollah Sistani's recent catering to Iranian calls for the "Islamization" of Iraq, after devoting his life to the principle of separation of mosque and state.

Our diplomats are so intent on pretending that we can "work with" Iran, that they failed to take any serious steps to prevent the recent appeasement of the mullahs' covert nuclear program. If we had been serious, then Secretary Powell could have told his friend British Foreign Minister Jack Straw that it was a very bad idea to fly to Tehran with his French and German colleagues. Everybody knew that the trip was designed to cut a deal with the Islamic Republic, and once we failed to denounce it, we were trapped into proclamations of great joy at the toothless warning that came out of the United Nations nuclear crowd.

Meanwhile, the Turks caught the leader of the terrorist group that savaged Istanbul — sneaking into Iran. Imagine that.

It seems that the administration has decided to "manage" Iraq until Election Day, and then take stock of the situation. That, too, is a suicidal conceit, for no matter how marvelous our armed forces are, it gives the entire initiative to our enemies. And, as General Patton once remarked with his usual bitterness, fixed defenses are a tribute to the stupidity of the human mind. Yes, we are defending ourselves better, and yes, we are rounding up lots of bad guys, and yes, we are killing them in mounting numbers. All to the good. But the terrorists are looking at a target-rich environment, and we cannot defend all the targets.

Managing Iraq, which means taking it easy on Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, also means condemning lots of people to death who could be saved if we waged war against our enemies.

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Take Syria, for example. When the Israelis bombed a terrorist training camp in Syria a couple of months ago, we suddenly and unexpectedly heard things from the State Department that we had never heard before. They said that the Syrians had been unhelpful in the war against terrorism, whereas previously they had always said that the Syrians were helping, and that it was only a matter of time before good old Bashar Assad did what Powell, Assistant Secretary William J. Burns, and various intermediaries from good old Jim Baker down in Houston had asked: Cooperate with us.

If we were serious about waging war against our enemies, we would have put enormous pressure on the Syrians to shut down the network of terrorist facilities in Lebanon, and expel Hezbollah, which Deputy Secretary Armitage has called the most dangerous terrorist organization. But it was only words. Foggy Bottom's compulsive confession of failure after Israel's gesture quickly faded away, and we're back to "managing" the thing.

Take the Arab-Israeli matter, for another example. It is simply humiliating to see the State Department acting as if a deal conjured up by bunch of unelected and unrepresentative people from the PLO and a splinter group from Israel were somehow worthy of support. But instead of the back of our hand, it gets a drooling French kiss.

And all this in total defiance of the president's call for a democratic revolution in the Middle East! If we were serious about that, we would condemn the wildcat diplomacy of the unelected poseurs who are wasting time, and Swiss-government money (which probably means some secret subsidy from us) on the latest wasted effort to "solve" a problem that can only be properly addressed once the terror masters have been defeated.

No amount of presidential bravery, no number of magnificent speeches, can save the lives of our people and of our allies, and give the Middle East a hope for real peace, if we insist on "managing" the terrorist war and play pretend diplomacy, which is what we're doing these days. The terror masters know they must drive us out of Iraq. They know they must split off our allies. They believe the best way to do this is to kill more and more Americans, Italians, Spaniards, Japanese, South Koreans, Turks, Poles, and Iraqis.

They are not running for reelection, and they are not trying to be loved. They want to be feared.

Faster, please.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


11/26/03: Back to the Angleton Files
11/25/03: The Turks, Italians & us — never again
11/06/03: Regional Struggle: Fighting narrow vision in Iraq
11/04/03: Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for?
10/21/03: Curses: Diamonds and Naples
10/15/03: Into the Quagmire: Important days ahead for Iran
09/18/03: The Ayatollahs’ bomb: An invulnerability strategy
09/12/03: You can't make peace until the war is won
09/11/03: Ron Paul, dishonorable congressman
09/03/03: The Latest Horrors: Still organized
08/29/03: The Peace Trap: Back to the war, please
08/27/03: Angrier and Angrier: Self-deception, big-time
08/25/03: Iraq's terrorists have friends in high places
07/10/03: The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line
07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen