Secretary of State Colin L Powell said last week that Iraq’s declaration on weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations contains “material omissions that, in our view, constitute another material breach.” The secretary also said that the United States is “doing everything we can to avoid war,” and he reassured U.N. inspectors that the United States is prepared to begin sharing intelligence about secret sites and activities that Baghdad has not disclosed.
Then on Sunday, Saddam Hussein invited the United States to send CIA agents into Iraq to designate sites where they believe Iraq continues to hide WMD, saying he would allow our intelligence agents to accompany the inspectors and give them immediate and unrestricted access to any site in the country. We should call Saddam’s bluff.
I agree with Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, who said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that a persuasive case has not yet been made to go to war with Iraq. As the senator observed, “This is not just about Iraq. It is about the entire world.”
Invading Iraq will have reverberations around the globe, and we should not go to war based upon the reports of Iraqi defectors or other indirect evidence. I believe by sending our intelligence agents into Iraq, we have an opportunity to call Saddam’s bluff and see firsthand whether or not our suspicions are true.
Meanwhile, North Korea has reactivated its weapons-grade-plutonium-producing nuclear reactor, which it promised former President Clinton it would deactivate in exchange for the United States’ giving it two “plutonium-free” nuclear power plants. Moreover, North Korea has abrogated its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by throwing out the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and has announced that it is withdrawing from the NPT altogether.
In Pakistan, Islamic radicalism is coming to power democratically one province at a time through local elections, while officials of the national government and elected members of the national parliament openly incite violence against the United States and give aid and sanctuary to international terrorists. According to Washington Times journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, “All the extremists detained following Gen. [Pervez] Musharraf’s pledge to the United States last January to quench terrorism are now free men in a country where a Kalashnikov (AK-47) can be rented for $2.50 a day and any kind of a weapon obtained at one hour’s notice.”
Money from Saudi Arabia continues to finance a worldwide network of madrassas fundamentalist Islamic schools (11,000 in Pakistan alone) where boys are indoctrinated from the age of 4 into a brand of religious intolerance and violence that infects not only Muslim countries but also the United States and the rest of the Free World. These madrassas serve as a kind of terrorist petri dish, incubating a jihadist virus that threatens our democracy with attack from within long before Saddam could ever hope to reach the United States with any kind of WMD.
Although Americans trust their government more today than they have in many, many years, there is, nevertheless, a growing awareness that the potential future threat posed by an isolated Iraq has been exaggerated while the real, immediate threat emanating from the North Korean-Pakistani-Iranian-Saudi axis has been downplayed and underestimated.
As President Bush has kept our guns loaded and pointed at Baghdad, we are perfectly situated to implement a containment strategy that can work. If we call Saddam’s bluff and send in our intelligence agents to thoroughly search Iraq for WMD, Saddam won’t be able to make any more progress on a clandestine weapons program, even if Iraq had begun to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction after the inspectors were withdrawn in 1998.
Now is the time to retrace our steps back to June 24, when Mr. Bush laid down a new framework for peace between Israel and the Arab world. Peace in the Middle East and democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority, coupled with the promise of a 21st-century Marshall plan for the region, could be a toehold for helping to defuse the radical Islamic threat to world peace.
It is becoming more apparent every day that any search for peace on Earth, good will toward men in the 21st century must begin in the same land where the Prince of Peace was born 2000 years ago that narrow strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Jack Kemp is co-director of Empower America.