- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003

For the record

Twice this week, The Washington Times has inaccurately represented my views regarding the Bush administration’s handling of U.S. intelligence on Iraq (“White House stands by banned-weapons war rationale,” Page A16, May 30; “Questions of ‘hype’ come after Iraq war,” Page 1, Wednesday). I spoke precisely and was quoted correctly when I said recently that I thought the administration had hyped the matter of possible Iraqi possession of nuclear weapons and Iraqi links to al Qaeda. It was not by accident, however, that I did not include mention of Saddam Hussein’s cache of chemical and biological weapons; no one disputes he had them. Also, contrary to the most recent article in The Times, my current views and public comments on these issues have remained unchanged from before the war. Permit me to elaborate.

Given Saddam’s actual use of chemical weapons against Iran and his own Kurdish population, and the conclusion of U.N. weapons inspectors that huge stockpiles of such weapons were unaccounted for, the burden of proof was on him to account for his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He had ample time to show weapons inspectors that he no longer possessed them, and his failure to do so led the entire world to assume he retained them. That is why U.N. Resolution 1441 passed unanimously in the Security Council.

Unfortunately, the administration chose to exaggerate other arguments for taking military action against Iraq. It created a perception among the American public that Iraq not only wanted to acquire nuclear weapons, but was on the verge of actually obtaining them. Second, the administration hyped the argument about supposed linkages between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda. Third, Americans were led to believe that Iraq had the capability of weaponizing its arsenal of chemical and biological agents. Finally, all these claims were tied together to create the impression of great urgency, that use of force was essential to eliminate a near-term threat to U.S. national security.

I voiced these same concerns months before the United States commenced Operation Iraqi Freedom. On Jan. 28, on the floor of the Senate, I refuted the notion that Saddam was on the verge of building a nuclear weapon: “[The American people] also assume, contrary to any hard evidence, that Saddam Hussein is just months away from developing a nuclear weapon that could strike American soil. He does not have that capacity.”

During a March 4 appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” I stated, “I do not believe and never have, as you know, believed that there’s a direct correlation between the threat that comes from al Qaeda and international terrorist organizations and Saddam Hussein. I believe that’s a bunch of malarkey.”

Indeed, I encouraged the administration to rest its case for military force in Iraq on the overwhelming evidence that Saddam’s regime had failed to comply with the terms of Resolution 1441. During a Jan. 30 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, I pointed out to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage the flaws in relying on shaky evidence concerning Iraq’s nuclear weapons program:

“It seems to undercut our case. We lead with the two things that may be true, but are the most difficult to prove, and we seem not to do what you guys did here today, very compellingly, when you talk about VX, anthrax; things we know.”

I supported the president’s decision to use force against Iraq for one overriding reason: Saddam defied a series of U.N. resolutions, including Resolution 1441, by refusing to come clean about his WMD programs, especially his unaccounted stocks of chemical and biological weapons. But our government should not have resorted to souped-up claims on other issues to win the support of the American people and the international community. Such actions only undermine the credibility of the United States as it seeks continued international support in the war on terrorism and against the spread of weapons of mass destruction.



Foreign Relations Committee


Exploiting old fires

In his column “Rekindling old fires,” (Commentary, Wednesday), Cal Thomas proffers a notion that is false, and dangerously so. “It is puzzling,” he writes, “that President Bush — fresh from his visit to Auschwitz — now asks Israel to trust its future to the ideological descendants of the architect of the death camps.”

Mr. Bush isn’t asking Israel to “trust its future” to any people but its own. The road map asks moderate concessions of Israel — a freezing of settlements, for example — and the Israeli parliament’s reservations grant even less. Are we to allow occupation and suicide bombers forever, consequences notwithstanding? Without an earnest attempt at peace, the United States would be letting Israel “trust its future” to new generations of suicide bombers. As Mr. Thomas himself reveals with his anecdote about Yasser Arafat’s incendiary remarks to children in Ramallah, that new generation is growing up fast and perhaps more radical than the current one.

Nor are Palestinians, despite strains of anti-Semitism, the “ideological descendants” of the Nazis. Whereas Nazism infused German society, suicide bombers do not represent mainstream Palestine. (If they did, there wouldn’t be much of a Middle East left for our debate.)Palestinians don’t have the means to create anything comparable to Adolf Hitler’s state, and most lack the desire, too.

Today’s world contains shades of the evil of Hitler’s Germany — but only shades. Hitler organized an entire state around the marriage of militarism to racial hatred and unchecked nationalism. He would stop at nothing and for nothing, not even his own survival. No parallel exists today against Jews in terms of either intent or means. That is not to say that anti-Semitism shouldn’t be opposed everywhere it surfaces. But a specific set of economic, social and political circumstances converged to create the Nazi state, and the vast majority of history runs contrary to that set.

Why did the world powers take so long to stop Hitler? Because they misapplied the lessons of World War I; they wished to avoid war, any war, and saw the same conflict happening all over again. As we now know, those “lessons” had no bearing on Nazi aggression, which arose for different reasons, by different means and with different intent than the Kaiser’s World War I government. It is as much a mistake to misinterpret the lessons of history as it is to ignore them.

To equate the Palestinians with the Nazis is to commit such a misinterpretation. Doing so also alienates the many Palestinians who aren’t blowing themselves up, don’t desire all Israeli land and just want to live in freedom. We need them, and need them badly, because they are the only ones who can really bring about peace in the Middle East and the only ones who can maintain it.



Support for stay-at-home parents

I read with great interest the article “Detour along career path” (Family Times, Sunday). The article mentioned several choices mothers can make: stay at home; work part time; or work full time.

The article listed only organizations that support mothers who work outside the home, but your readers might be interested in organizations that support mothers and fathers who work inside the home. Their work is at least as valuable and, fortunately, there are organizations that recognize this.

One with a strong local presence is Family and Home Network. Since 1984, this Fairfax-based national nonprofit organization has supported parents who forgo or cut back on paid employment to nurture their children. Its Web site (www.FamilyAndHome.org) is a valuable source of information on parenting.

I hope that in the future, when you discuss parents who work, you give equal billing to those parents who dedicate themselves full time to the most important job there is: raising our next generation.



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