Memo To: Bill Kristol
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: At last we agree!!
Dear Bill. Someone sent me your September 8 commentary in The Weekly Standard about how Saddam Hussein would still be in power if John Kerry were president. Holy Smokes!! For the first time in several years, I agree with you. Of course, it means you are forced to admit that “Bush went to war to remove Saddam,” not to disarm him of weapons of mass destruction or prevent him from helping terrorists acquire them. And you also say, “Kerry, it now appears, would not have.” That’s right. And logically, that means Saddam would still be in power. That’s absolutely correct!!
You go on to say we now have a clear choice in the presidential election and go on to pose not one but several interesting questions to Senator Kerry:
So Kerry has to answer this question: Would we be safer with Saddam still in power? Would the world? What would such a world look like? Surely we couldn't have left 150,000 troops in the nations bordering Iraq for two years. Surely, then, the inspectors would once again have been expelled. And the sanctions regime was collapsing. Does Kerry then believe Saddam would not have moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction? Would that have been acceptable? Does Kerry believe pro-American, anti-terror forces in the Middle East, to say nothing of the forces of reform in that region, would be stronger or weaker if Saddam were still in power? What would have been the global effect on American credibility if we had authorized the president to use force, as Kerry voted to do, and then backed off? And what would a Kerry administration do now? How could a President Kerry ask any young American to be the last one to die for a mistake? These are among the serious questions that have to be answered. Senator Kerry addressed none of them today, and has not answered them anywhere else. It is possible to disagree with the judgment that it was right to remove Saddam. It is irresponsible to denounce that "wrong choice," and the actions that followed from it, without addressing the consequences that would have followed from not going to war. Senator Kerry is running a fundamentally evasive and deeply irresponsible campaign.
I haven’t heard yet whether Kerry has seen your questions, and I don’t think he reads your magazine, but how about I’ll take a shot at them?
Q. Would we be safer with Saddam still in power?
A. Yes. “We” the people of the United States would not have lost 1000+ of our fellow citizens killed since we removed Saddam from power and more than 25,000 wounded, maimed, etc. If you simply mean those of us who are on this side of the ocean and not facing the 87 attacks per day being reported in Iraq lately, I’d also say “yes.” The President and his team warn us repeatedly that we are not safe. But wouldn’t we be safer if we had not decided to “remove Saddam” by force? After all, in the process between 40,000 and 60,000 Iraqi military men and boys and another 15,000 to 30,000 Iraqi civilians who happened to get in the way have been killed, plus another 200,000 wounded and maimed. They now know we didn’t have to kill any of them because Saddam was not doing anything wrong, had no WMD, and no working relationship with Al Qaeda. They are mad, really angry, Bill, and will continue to blow up our troops whenever they can… for as long as they can.
Q. Would the world [be safer]?
A. You bet. If Kerry was president and did not decide to go to war, all those people killed in various parts of the world where their governments participated in our “coalition of the willing” would still be alive. All those hostages captured and beheaded would still have their heads.
Q. What would such a world look like? Surely we couldn't have left 150,000 troops in the nations bordering Iraq for two years. Surely, then, the inspectors would once again have been expelled.
A. What makes you think that if Kerry had been President that he would have sent 150,000 troops to the nations bordering on Iraq in the winter of 2003? Bush sent them because he knew in advance he would not care what the inspectors found or did not find. Kerry really was interested in determining if the U.N. and its inspectors could have determined that Saddam was clean. And if he had sent in 150,000 troops and then found Saddam was clean, which was by March 2003 clear, he would not have said, “Heck, we’re over here already, we might as well have a war.”
A (part II). You say “Surely the inspectors would once again have been expelled.”That’s the silliest line I’ve ever seen you write, Bill, since we met decades ago. The silliest. You know damned well that Saddam NEVER expelled our inspectors. Never!! We pulled them out in 1998, as Scott Ritter has certified and as UNSCOM’s Richard Butler has confirmed, because the Clinton administration wanted to bomb Iraq and asked that the inspectors get out of the country or be harmed. I hate to say it, Bill, but I think you know you are prevaricating, Pinocchio-like. One lie leads to another and you are miles down that road, old buddy. If we had continued to support UNMOVIC and the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council, Saddam would still be “in power,” with inspectors all over Iraq keeping track of every blink of his eye for signs he was up to no good.
Q. Does Kerry then believe Saddam would not have moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction? Would that have been acceptable?
A. WHAT?? You can write this now in September 2004 and not KNOW that every scrap of evidence we have now, every SCRAP, is that Saddam closed down all his WMD programs BEFORE the 1992 Gulf War!! Where have you been? Didn’t you know that Saddam NEVER had any WMD? That he tried to develop them in order to kill more Iranians in the 1980s and to counter Israel’s nukes, but that he abandoned those efforts when they were going nowhere? DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT? As Rupert Murdoch’s main man in the political print media, you should be more attentive to really finding out what’s what.
A (part II) How could Saddam be “moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction”? Didn’t you know that when, in 1992, the UN found Saddam had a clandestine program to develop nukes (in reaction to Israel blowing up Iraq’s nuclear power plant in 1981), they tightened the inspection regime at the International Atomic Energy Agency? Anyone who has done any due diligence on this critical issue, William, will tell you that in March of 2003 Saddam Hussein was “toothless and supine,” and would remain that way until the end of his days. The protocols and inspections regimes imposed upon him would, according to all the experts I have consulted, have prevented him from lifting a pinky without any WMD being discovered. What I’m saying, Bill, is that when you decide you want to go to war and have lots and lots of people killed, theirs and yours, you really should ask around before you pull the trigger.
Q. Does Kerry believe pro-American, anti-terror forces in the Middle East, to say nothing of the forces of reform in that region, would be stronger or weaker if Saddam were still in power?
A. If I were Kerry, I would certainly argue that if the Bush team had accepted the fact that diplomacy had worked, and Saddam had given the UN Security Council EVERYTHING it asked for, it would have STRENGTHENED “pro-American, anti-terror forces in the Middle East.” The whole world would now be looking up the America as the beacon or reason and justice, ready to accept the overwhelming evidence that war was not necessary, and that the American President would sincerely hear petitions from those who believe injustices were being committed. Especially, lately, in the Middle East.
Q. What would have been the global effect on American credibility if we had authorized the president to use force, as Kerry voted to do, and then backed off?
A. Jeeez, Bill. You really don’t get it. Kerry authorized the use of force hoping diplomacy would work. Diplomacy can’t work unless it is backed by the threat of force, which is why Kerry gave the President that authority. But then DIPLOMACY WORKED. The French foreign minister, who has been so vilified by the pinheads in the GOP, on the eve of war said repeatedly that there need be no war because the President’s authority to use force had worked diplomatically, and Bush should get credit for Saddam rolling over toothless and supine. Where were you when all this happened?
Now I know you and your fellow neo-con warhawks want to say that at least the miserable people of Iraq are better off with Saddam Hussein gone. But bear with me on this. Say the President had been smart enough to see he had been snookered by you neo-cons and that Saddam was doing everything required of him by UNSCRes #1441, he would have said OKAY, let’s continue and wrap this up. Hans Blix and his UNMOVIC inspectors would have spent the next two or three months cleaning up that list of teeny bits of paperwork on WMD. And Saddam would have signed the latest UNMOVIC protocol on perpetual inspections – which Baghdad indicated he was ready to sign. The UNSC would then have had to sign off that, inasmuch as Saddam was CLEAN AS A WHISTLE, the 12-year-old sanctions on its economy could be lifted. Iraq would be back in business, although burdened with a zillion dollars of debts left over from the Gulf War. The only sad players in the Middle East would be the Likudniks in Israel, who have used you and the other neo-cons over the last decade to plan for the war in Iraq, to replace Saddam with an imperial puppet regime.
Would the rest of Israel be unhappy with the outcome? Not at all. Remember Saddam ran a secular regime. He would not build a wall against Israel to prevent commerce from taking place between the two countries, and in no time at all, Jewish businessmen would again be cutting deals in Baghdad. The Likudniks would have to give up their dream of occupying all the land between the Jordan and the sea. A Palestinian state would be in the offing. Al Qaeda would no longer have any reason to exist and would dry up. The class of civilizations, which you have been assiduously promoting, would be unclashed. No?