Voices are being raised in many quarters urging President George W. Bush to delay plans to invade Iraq and oust dictator Saddam Hussein. Democrats are trying to make it a partisan issue, as they did before the Persian Gulf War. A few of the usual suspects within the Republican Party question whether such an effort will succeed. Others, in Europe, deny our moral right even to make the attempt. The arguments most frequently raised assert that a U.S. thrust against Iraq (always seen by the Cassandras as a unilateral effort) somehow would jeopardize the "coalition" assembled by President Bush in the war on terror. As former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft opined recently in the Wall Street Journal, war in Iraq would "risk our campaign against terrorism, as well as stability and security" in the Middle East.
We have heard these arguments before. There was a famous moment shortly after Saddam invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, when President George H.W. Bush appeared to hesitate. His closest advisers--including then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and then national security adviser Scowcroft--urged him to be cautious. But he listened when Margaret Thatcher, still in the prime of power, told him: "Don't go wobbly on me, George." Important principles such as national sovereignty and international law were at stake, not mere economic interests. It was no time to appease the Iraqi tyrant.
Just as leading Democrats quietly let it be known they were relieved that Bush was leading the nation after Sept. 11, so Republicans should be grateful it is "W." in command and not the likes of political generals Scowcroft or Powell. If any president in recent history has had a sense of moral priorities and national mission to equal that of Ronald Reagan, it is George W. Bush.
This president understands, in a way some of his advisers do not, that Saddam presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and to the well-being of Americans. Why? Because secular dictator Saddam's goal is hegemony over Middle Eastern oil and only incidentally the destruction of Israel. If ever he succeeds, we can kiss our oil-based luxurious way of life goodbye and hunker down for a long world war.
Saddam now has had almost four full years without U.N. arms inspections. At the time the inspections ceased, former chief weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus estimated it would take Saddam just months to build a biological-weapons arsenal, less than one year to reconstitute his chemical weapons and to build a modest number of missiles to deliver them, and two to three years to build a nuclear weapon. We can only guess at his stockpiles of deadly weapons today.
Scowcroft and others now argue that the United States should press for a resumption of the inspections. This is absurd. Even with the inspections, Saddam kept building. …