- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

It happened in the film "Deliverance." Jon Voight had his arrow aimed at this ten pointer. Then his arm started shaking and he just couldn't let fly. Couldn't seize the moment. It seems like Saddam Hussein might have the president in something of the same bind. What is it going to take to let go of the bow string? What's holding George W. Bush back? I believe an analog of political correctness is at the heart of our inability to act against Iraq in spite of the belligerence and deception already encountered and the gradual escalation which is certain to follow.
In Asia, when an elephant is being trained, one end of a thick rope is tied around its leg, the other to a tree or post, to keep it from running away. But after a time, the elephant learns, so that only the loop around the leg is necessary. We have been conditioned to believe that we need U.N. approval and a broad coalition before taking any military action. Colin Powell scurried around the world trying to drum-up support in Europe and among Arab countries with embarrassing results. The response from the Saudis and the Kuwaitis was especially disturbing. In point of fact, we are the world's only superpower. President Bush has expressed a willingness to consider morality in policy-making, but suddenly it seems, with the election won, his resolve as to Iraq is faltering.
Saddam continues to fire at our planes. There's nothing new there. Saddam's been shooting at our pilots for years; at a lot of people, actually. There was the war with Iran. And his decimation of the Kurds. And the money he doles out to terrorists who succeed in shedding blood in attacks on Israel. And the murders and torture inside his own borders. But, we are told, we shouldn't meddle in the affairs of other countries. Well, we're learning that lesson a tad late. Too bad we didn't get it before, oh, the war of 1812, or the Spanish American War, or Korea, or Vietnam, or Somalia. One more "mistake" isn't going to tarnish an otherwise spotless record.
I'm going to ask the one question no one seems to be willing to ask: Why not go to war with Iraq? I heard Pat Buchanan say that if we're wrong about Saddam's weapons caches and we attack, the entire Muslim world will rise up against us. All other factors being equal, it seems to me that even if we're right, same result.
Muslim rage is a reality perhaps because of humiliation, or from loss of greatness, from poverty, envy, exploitation, religious zealotry, or vendetta. It may be politically incorrect to say that there are traits of personality which go together with certain ethnicities, but my late mentor, Carlton Rodney Holmes, used to say that we wouldn't have racial generalities to begin with if there weren't some truth to them: Compare "Fiddler on the Roof," Exodus and Lawrence of Arabia.
I saw an interview with a Palestinian college professor recently and he was complaining about the destruction of the apartment of the suicide bomber who killed 11 people on a bus in Jerusalem, including several children. His main concern was that since it was an apartment rather than a house that had been demolished, the owner of the building had been subjected to the "collective punishment" so allegedly typical of the occupation. I have written before about the attempts to fabricate a "moral equivalency" between the terrorist, who takes the lives of civilians in places other than a battleground, and the counter-terrorist, who targets the terrorist himself.
There is simply no agenda, no past wrong, no amount of anger, no goal political, economic, ecological which will justify the butchery of men, women and children. No rational person can equate a mutilated child with a destroyed apartment building. We as civilized people must acknowledge this. We may not be able to prevent it from happening within the borders of sovereign nations, no matter how savage. "Black Hawk Down" makes this tragic point. But we can stand together with other civilized countries and declare that we will not permit international terrorists to spread death, destruction and fear throughout the rest of the world. We have the power to stop those who try. And we must do it now before they have the weaponry to kill millions instead of mere thousands. The president knows this. He has said so. He has our support.
Nostradamus wrote of "Europe's children," supposedly referring to America. It may be that we will have to pay for many of the mistakes made during 500 years of European imperialism. And paying in this instance means being willing to knock Saddam down just because he's a rotten SOB up to his elbows in everything we as Americans detest. In so doing, we're going to show Osama bin Laden and everyone in the world who thinks that killing innocents is acceptable the United States will not allow this poison to be exported over international borders, to America, to Britain, to Germany, to the Philippines or even to Israel. And then if there are any objections, we'll listen. But we're not going to be afraid of our shadow anymore. The terrorists have just awakened a sleeping elephant.

Frederick Grab is a former California deputy attorney general. He is currently representing John Reiner on appeal, convicted of conspiracy and attempted extortion against Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry.

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