- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

American public opinion about a potential war with Iraq remains divided, which has think tanks both for against the conflict gearing up to sway support for their causes.
Policy and punditry on anything to do with Iraq are drawing standing-room-only crowds at weekly briefings, such as the American Enterprise Institute's "Post Saddam Iraq Event Series," which began Oct. 3.
"There were wall-to-wall people at that first gathering," said Veronique Rodman, institute spokeswoman. "We had to swat people away."
Experts attending included Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Feisal Istrabadi, trial lawyer and Iraqi activist; Ambassador Ryszard Krystosik, the former chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Baghdad; Bernard Lewis of Princeton University; Kanan Makiya of Harvard University; and Sinan al Shabibi of the United Nations Institute for Teaching and Research.
A "black coffee briefing on Iraq," American Enterprise Institute's newest weekly gabfest that premiered Tuesday, attracted 80 listeners and five panelists. Retired Air Force Gen. Buster Glosson drew the most attention with his assertions that American military commanders did not adequately learn their lessons from the first Gulf war.
"You can be too careful," he said, "and the results are dead coalition forces. When you don't allow [your soldiers] to accomplish the maximum … you are asking for disaster. I do not have much respect for Saddam Hussein, but I don't think he's a total idiot."
Seventy-five persons have signed up for today's Center for Defense Information's conference on American nuclear policy.
"We keep saying Iraq has sucked all the air out of every other issue," said spokesman Theresa Hitchens.
The Brookings Institution also has entered the wonk wars with its Thursday afternoon "Iraq series." On Feb. 20, Brookings fellow Amatzia Baram spoke on "Saddam's Strategy on the Brink of War," which, he said, is partly to "string out the inspections until an American-led war becomes impossible."
"I think there is a demand and interest toward hearing what ideas people have on this," said Colin Johnson, Brookings spokesman. "People are coming to places where they think they can get good quality analysis that is not biased."
Other think tanks are adding war content to their Web sites for those who want to know what Washington is thinking. The Cato Institute, a Libertarian organization, has posted a stream of anti-war pieces on its cato.org Web site, such as "Pro-War Camp Can't Make the Case That an Attack Is in National Interest."
"Saddam and the other members of the Iraqi political elite know that threatening, much less attacking, the United States would be an act of suicide," wrote Ted Carpenter, CATO vice president for defense and foreign policy studies. "Young, useful idiots like the September 11 terrorists may be suicidal, but rulers of countries almost never are. Iraq's rulers know that attacking the United States would lead to an annihilating counter stroke from the world's largest nuclear arsenal."
The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank, has posted its opposition to the war on its Web site, ips-dc.org, such as this Jan. 16 essay by Michael Klare: "The Coming War with Iraq Deciphering the Bush Administration's Motives."
"American troops will remain in Iraq for a generation, or more," he said, "producing hatred and resistance throughout the Muslim world and increased levels of terrorism elsewhere."
The conservative Heritage Foundation has posted "Don't Let Iraq Get Away with It," a Feb. 14 essay by research fellow James Phillips that points out how the Clinton administration intervened in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo without obtaining a specific resolution from the Security Council.
"The threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime is too dangerous," he wrote, "to do anything less now in Iraq."


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