- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I have the feeling that the future is imminent. The pace, volume and variety of war rumors and comments increase weekly. Here in Washington, in pro-war circles there is a nasty story going about that Colin Powell is trying to veto the president's war plans with the threat of resignation (and some sort of implicit racial backlash that would ensue).

Meanwhile, in some anti-war conversations there is a barely veiled, and slanderous, suggestion that Jewish war-advocates in high government office are trying to bamboozle our president into starting a war with Iraq for Israel's sake.

For whatever reason, the rash of Pentagon leaks or disinformation releases (or both) that filled the papers in July seem to have subsided. Does that mean the president has reached his conclusion and laid down the law?

On the Republican side, traditionally strong supporters of the president, men of honor (if not necessarily wisdom on this matter) such as Jack Kemp, Dick Armey and Brent Scowcroft feel obliged to state publicly their opposition to the war. One can only presume that they sense they ought to get their convictions on the record before hostilities start in a few months.

On Monday of this week, Henry Kissinger, the high mandarin of the American foreign-policy establishment, published in The Washington Post his begrudging, but nevertheless dispositive, endorsement of the president's pre-emptive war strategy. The timing, substance and authorship of this extraordinary document hardly can be overstated.

Mr. Kissinger's entire career as statesman and scholar has centered on the inviolability of the nation-state (and as a result, his opposition to pre-emptive war). In this article, he kicks over his world-historic career principle, and endorses just for Iraq pre-emption. He expressly embraces this challenge to an international order that has existed for 354 years since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, and that he has made his life pursuit. Such a man does not make such a concession, but for the extremity in which he believes we find ourselves today.

He also rejects, en passant, solving the Middle East crisis before Iraq. He insists on a congressional debate and vote, and on a time-limited demand for "a stringent inspection system" from Saddam Hussein. He justifies such a war only if we are prepared to sustain it and the aftermath of nation-building, "however long it is needed."

In perhaps his most incisive assertion, he justifies "bringing matters to a head with Iraq" for what he calls a "generally unstated reason" "While long-range American strategy must try to overcome legitimate causes of [Islamic] resentments, immediate policy must demonstrate that a terrorist challenge … produces catastrophic consequences for the perpetrators, as well as their supporters, tacit or explicit." In other words, we must break the will and pride of all those in the Islamic world who would dare terrorize us and the international system.

It is noteworthy that the Texas-based Strategic Forecasting Co. (Stratfor.com) published on the same day a report that concluded "the Bush administration is not abandoning its strategy [of war with Iraq] because it sees a successful campaign against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a prime way to shatter the psychological advantage within the Islamist movement and demonstrates U.S. power."

The usually well-sourced Stratfor explains that from the 1973 oil embargo, through the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan, Saddam's 1991 survival, the U.S. defeat in Somalia to September 11, the centuries-old Islamic sense of impotence has been reversed. In explaining the Bush war aims, they elaborate, Mr. Bush intends to defeat the Islamist sense of their inevitable triumph to defeat their psychology of manifest destiny.

I take it as possibly not coincidental that both Mr. Kissinger and the well-connected, Texas-based Stratfor state on the same day this "unstated" Bush war aim. If it is true, I commend the president for his strategic wisdom and his moral courage in facing the heart of the threat to our nation.

When I wrote at the lead of this column that I sensed the future is imminent, I did not mean a future as we have daily and benignly experienced it each morning these many decades. The imminent future the signs suggest we are facing is a violent and perhaps prolonged struggle to defeat the will of an aroused and myriad people. As Winston Churchill warned shortly before World War II, we are moving into a time of "measureless peril."

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