Slapping Iraq
Jude Wanniski
September 3, 1996


Memo To: R. W. Apple Jr., The New York Times
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Slapping Iraq

Congratulations on your Monday column, "How to Slap Iraq?" It is the only decent piece of journalism I've seen since this latest Iraqi crisis began. Because Saddam has been "permanently demonized in the West," as you put it, there is little room for rational analysis, to determine whether in this instance Saddam is in the right, or in the wrong. In my own reading of what has been going on, it does not appear that Saddam is doing anything he shouldn't be doing as head of the Iraqi state. Every "ordinary citizen" I've discussed this with over the weekend was gung-ho for action against Saddam, until I advised them that the Kurdish faction in control of this piece of sovereign Iraqi territory had specifically asked Saddam to intervene. The vast majority of Americans have learned about these events on 30-second radio and tv news accounts. It is a "political no-brainer," as you say, for President Clinton to act tough and drop bombs, goaded by Bob Dole who is also shooting from the hip. This is the kind of brainless policymaking that led to Waco, which should have taught Clinton something about the unintended consequences of the ill-considered use of force. Waco led directly to Oklahoma City. Where will the senseless bombing of Iraqi targets lead? The only person I would trust to advise me on this matter, if I were President, is Colin Powell. Why don't you ask him what he thinks?

PS: I will say that Sen. John Warner and Rep. Lee Hamilton did comport themselves with some prudence of policy and rhetoric on the Sunday talk shows. If you missed their interviews, you might locate the transcripts.