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WASHINGTON – United Nations Security Resolution 678, passed in November 1990, authorized U.S.-led coalition forces “to use all necessary means … to restore international peace and security in the area” in and
It was a pretty broad mandate, as I read it, providing enough latitude to take out Saddam Hussein. How could
there be “peace and security” with him still in the picture?
Since the Gulf war, however, the U.S. has spent more than $7 billion keeping an eye on the wily madman.
No-fly-zone patrols, missile strikes, sanction enforcement, inspections. On and on, the cat-and-mouse game goes.
The “decisive” victory was, in fact, hollow.
In 1991, our troops were mowing down Saddam’s troops as they retreated from Kuwait City. Our goal line was
Baghdad. Saddam’s days were numbered – or so our boys thought.
Suddenly, they were ordered to pull up short on the highway to Baghdad, near Basra. Turns out “Coalition” Colin Powell, the former Joint Chiefs chairman who gets most of the credit for “winning” the Gulf War, had seen enough carnage. Bodies of Iraqi soldiers, charred, decapitated, littered the road like so much
human roadkill. It had turned into a slaughter, and Powell lost the stomach to march all the way to Baghdad to finish the war and defeat the enemy so we
wouldn’t have to return.
Enter the diplomats. In the cease-fire deal, Saddam and his Republican Guard were allowed to live to
terrorize another day.
Defending the decision to stop fighting, former President Bush in 1996 cited the U.N. mandate,
claiming “the mission was to end the aggression. It wasn’t to decimate. It was not to go find Saddam
Oh, you mean that guy you initially compared to Hitler? The one who, one year after you spared his
life, tried to have you assassinated? That guy? Yeah, he’s not aggressive anymore. We put an end to that, by
Now Bush’s son is commander in chief, and is leading us into a new battle in the Middle East, one we may
have to fight on several fronts this time.
But this battle isn’t over oil fields thousands of miles away. It’s over America’s own continent, which
has been attacked for the first time since 1812. This was a massive act of war perpetrated by foreign
enemies in our own backyard.
Yet here we go again with the coalition-building.
Powell, now secretary of state, is busy putting together another coalition, even though the last
coalition didn’t work, at least not in terms of getting the job done.
This isn’t Kuwait. We don’t need to get everyone to
hold hands with us in the Middle East. This attack
happened on our soil, to our cities, to our landmarks,
to our military headquarters, to our women and
children. We don’t need to ask even the Russians for
permission (did they us in Chechnya?), and we sure as
hell don’t need to ask terrorist-harboring Pakistan
for its blessing to defend our own country (though,
strategically, we may need Pakistan, positioned as it
is between Afghanistan and the Arabian Sea, its track
record is hardly worthy of our trust, and certainly
not of any appeasement).
It’s our right as a sovereign nation – as the leader of the free world, no less – to protect our own
borders as we see fit, without begging for permission or cooperation from nations that might not even exist
today if not for America.
We shouldn’t be wasting time doing the diplomatic tap-dance. The targets are clear. We know where the
hubs that feed the terrorist networks are. No one will blame us for striking them hard and fast to prevent
future attacks on our country – even if doing so produces the politically dreaded “collateral damage.”
These fanatics don’t care if they die. They can’t wait to redeem their 70 virgins from Allah.
But they do care about their women and children. Hit them in their homes, and they will stop hitting ours.
Consider something else: Palestinian boys trade cards bearing the pictures of their favorite anti-American
or anti-Israeli terrorist, like American boys trade baseball cards. These martyr-worshipping kids are the
next generation of terror. Also bear in mind that the damage the latest inductees in the Muslim Martyr Hall
of Fame did to thousands of New Yorkers wasn’t even collateral. All the victims were civilians.
Too harsh? When the TV networks show the piles upon piles of body bags containing innocent Manhattan
workers, and the parade of flag-draped coffins of the cops and firefighters who tried to save them, I won’t
be the only one thinking this.
And while the new Bush team pulls all-nighters at Camp David debating what is and isn’t an “appropriate
response” to what these organized terrorists did to us, they are no doubt preparing to do it to us again.
And again. And again.
The noblesse-oblige Bushes govern like the blue-bloods they are, which is frustrating enough, but what’s
worse, they tend to fight like blue-bloods. George the Elder was called the “WASP warrior.” Hopefully, George
the Younger is more warrior than WASP, and will have the stomach to go all the way this time.
But I fear that he, like his father – or perhaps the team of his father’s foreign-policy holdovers
surrounding him – sees far too much honor in forging multinational coalitions and brokering multilateral
missions. Like no other time, not even after Pearl Harbor – which was a purely military attack on
military assets and military personnel during a world war – this is the time for one nation, the United
States of America, to take care of its own business, by its own means, on its own terms, with its own
people to defend its own people. This is a war against fear – living in fear and unfree, under a kind of
self-imposed martial law to protect us from what we can’t even see. Indeed, it’s a war against the end of
the American way of life we all cherish – and, until now, took for granted.
President Reagan didn’t let Washington’s pseudo-intellectuals or Europe’s aesthetes mau-mau him
into not doing what he knew to be right. He unilaterally rained hell on Libya (funny how quiet
it’s been over there now) and excised a communist cancer budding in our hemisphere. No Camp David
summits, no obsequious overseas phone calls, no U.N. resolutions, no endless debates over our rights within
international law. Oh, and then there’s that small matter of Reagan staring down the Soviet bear when
everyone in this town and capitals abroad (save for Maggie Thatcher), trivialized him as a cowboy. What
was the name of that wall that came down?
Wise and steel-willed Reagan (now there’s a candidate for cloning) listened to his advisers and
his allies, yes, but in the end he almost always kept his own counsel.
He led by conviction, not coalition. It was a successful model our current leader, no matter his
undying respect for his father, should not ignore.
Please, Mr. Bush, no Basra this time.