may be in somewhat poor taste to say "I told you so,"
but I can't resist. My prognosis that the Iraq war, far from
being "inevitable," as
we've been endlessly told, has been postponed if not put
on the back burner indefinitely has been all but verified
by recent events. In a column posted on New Year's Day, I
John McLaughlin and Eleanor Clift concurred on The McLaughlin
Group this week, Colin Powell deserves the title 'Person of
the Year' for having slowed the rush to war against Iraq.
Clift pointed out that the President has gone with Powell,
rather than the neocons, at every important turn in the road
that may not lead to war after all. The War Party thought
they had won the fight, and that they had a deal with the
Bushies: but the UN inspections process, which could last
out the new year, short-circuited the drive to war in the
it may be a bit early to claim that my prediction has come
true, the evidence that the rush to war has slowed to a veritable
crawl is rapidly proliferating to a state of near certainty.
It looks like the Brits are "going wobbly," as Maggie
Thatcher would no doubt put it, with Tony Blair's Labor
Party in a uproar over the prospect of war and Cabinet
each other's throats over the issue. The Telegraph
is pressing for war against Iraq to be delayed for several
months, possibly until the autumn, to give weapons inspectors
more time to provide clear evidence of new violations by Saddam
Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, let the cat out of
the bag by telling the BBC that the odds are running 60-40
against war, Geoff Hoon, their version of Donald Rumsfeld
and Richard Perle combined, went ballistic, publicly rebuking
Straw. Blair went nuclear, opining that Straw's remarks were
"extremely stupid," but the Telegraph notes
that Blair's support for the War Party is not quite so unconditional
as previously supposed, citing a "senior Whitehall source"
Prime Minister has made it clear that, unless there is a smoking
gun, the inspectors have to be given time to keep searching."
is a standard considerably higher than that enunciated by
Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, who avers that
it is up to Iraq to prove it doesn't have "weapons
of mass destruction." As Blix stated in his prepared
remarks to the UN:
cannot just maintain that it must be deemed to be without
proscribed items as long as there is no evidence to the contrary.
If evidence is not presented ... there is no way the inspectors
can close the file by simply invoking a precept that Iraq
cannot prove a negative."
however, doesn't have any backbenchers to deal with: there
is even talk that a few junior ministers would resign if Bush's
poodle followed his master into the Iraqi morass without a
UN mandate – and a "smoking gun" that could be waved
at home front opponents of the war. The UN inspectors have
so far visited
300 Iraqi sites, including 47 facilities that have not been
inspected before, so far without uncovering even a trace
of the alleged hidden arsenal. Unless something major is discovered
in the eighteen or so days left before Blix is scheduled to
come back to the UN, an Anglo-American assault on Iraq will
have to be postponed – perhaps indefinitely.
the international front, at least, the War Party seems to
be unraveling, and it isn't just the Brits. The Turks, too,
are getting cold feet, demanding as the price of their cooperation
more "aid" and publicly wavering
over the prospect of letting American ground troops on their
soil. Reeling from an economic crisis, and with a new
Islamic party at the helm, Turkey is essential to the US military
strategy of a short and decisive strike, but Turkish public
opinion is overwhelmingly opposed: eighty-eight percent say
no to war. The Turkish government has delayed the decision
until January 27, when Blix and his team are expected to deliver
a more comprehensive report to the UN Security Council. At
which time another looming crisis may enter the Council's
purview almost simultaneously….
in October, I wrote that "we may have been saved
from the prospect of war in the Middle East – only to be faced
with an even greater crisis on the other side of the Asian
landmass," warning that North Korea was about to blow.
Kim Jong Il "has pulled the rug out from under the War
Party," I wrote, "even as the U.S. gets ready to
move on Iraq." Noting that the President had recently
received Ariel Sharon at the White House and promised that
the Israelis would get two weeks notice before we attack Iraq,
I predicted that Sharon would have a long wait: "If I
were Sharon, I wouldn't hold my breath."
come to think of it, the Israeli Prime Minister does
little blue these days….
the Colin Powell faction won out and the U.S. went down the
road of UN inspections, the rush to war in Iraq necessarily
slowed to a near halt. The logic of this course required a
long drawn-out process that could be interrupted, at any moment,
by a fresh crisis on another front. The arrogance of the would-be
U.S. "hegemon," whom some have deemed a "hyperpower,"
has been humbled, this week, as it will be in the weeks and
months to come. Those who believed that the U.S. could do
whatever it wanted, without regard for world opinion, or long-recognized
moral and diplomatic precepts, have this eventful week been
proved dead wrong.
in this administration may learn the lesson of these events,
but the hard-liners in their ranks will surely not. They,
for their part, will launch an attack on the President, and,
as I wrote earlier this week, the neocons are already out
for revenge. The scurrilous smear against the Bush family
launched in the New York Sun by Stephen Schwartz
which suggested that the Saudis had bribed
both 41 and 43 by contributing to Phillips Academy, which
both men attended – has been followed by cries of "appeasement!"
Ledeen, writing in National Review Online, bemoans
the existence of an "antiwar coalition" consisting
of Brent Scowcroft and the Pentagon, as well as nameless "so-called
friends and allies," who have so "boxed in"
Bush and Blair that they cannot unleash the dogs of war. It's
all a conspiracy, you see, one furthered by the Saudis, who
had the gall to propose the "Abdullah plan," calling
attention to the Israeli boot on the Palestinians' neck when
we should have been going after Iran and preparing for war
with Saddam. Going to the UN gave the game away:
Saddam accepted this gambit, President Bush was trapped in
a device of our own construction, designed by our own diplomats
and their foreign friends. For the moment, at least, the antiwar
crowd has the upper hand."
once I agree with Ledeen. The War Party is in full retreat,
and, as I predicted, they are plenty angry about it. "All
dressed up and nowhere to go," I wrote, they will turn
on the President as soon as they get over their disappointment.
And that wasn't long at all. Mark
Steyn, writing in the [UK] Spectator, echoes Ledeen's
lament, detecting "interdepartmental coordination"
among the various components of the axis of evil: the North
Koreans, the Palestinians, and of course the Saudis in the
person of the ubiquitous Prince Abdullah – they're all in
on a Vast Conspiracy to deprive the neocons of their heart's
desire: the conquest and subjugation of much of the Middle
one of the more hot-under-the-collar warmongers, has never
been a proponent of the "rope a dope" theory, which
posits that "the administration's apparent lethargy this
last year is all part of some cunning bluff." He's been
suspicious of the Bushies all along, wondering if their devotion
to furthering Ariel Sharon's agenda in the Middle East could
be as servile as his own. "Even if it were true,"
man like Kim Jong-Il reminds us of the perils of this approach:
crazy as he is, it's unlikely he'd be crying 'Look at me!
Over here, you moronic cowboy!' if Bush had already killed
Saddam and set in motion the remaking of the Middle East.
The 13 months since the liberation of Afghanistan allowed
Kim to figure that the US isn't serious. When Saddam looks
out the window and sees Hans Blix motoring around in his UN
minibus, he concludes likewise."
Saddam's still in power by May," Steyn warns, "the
world's in big trouble." The "linkage" suggested
in Steyn's essay is that Kim Jong Il will get together with
Hezbollah, and even Al Qaeda, but this is just fanciful window
dressing to disguise the real target of his wrath: George
W. Bush. One has to wonder, is it the world, or just Bush,
who will be in trouble?
advantages to this administration postponing a war until the
campaign season begins are too obvious to be gone into, but
this schedule does not at all fit the requirements of the
War Party, which has an agenda all its own. With Sharon losing
his lead in the polls, dragged down by a burgeoning scandal
and weariness with his implacable belligerence, what amounts
to the American branch of Israel's hard-line Likud Party is
increasingly desperate. The war that was supposed to deliver
them from their enemies, with the U.S. taking on not only
Iraq but also sowing chaos throughout the region, toppling
the regime in Riyadh and unseating the Jordanian king, may
occur too late – or not at all. Without that kind of cover,
the Likud goal of eliminating Yasser Arafat and the Palestine
Authority cannot be accomplished, and Labor may triumph after
is one of the greatest dangers of empire: that the politics
of our satraps and protectorates are inextricably entwined
with our own. I started out this column by crowing about the
accuracy of my own predictions, which is in somewhat dubious
taste, so let me end it with an impressive demonstration of
someone else's prophetic powers. The conservative columnist
Craig Roberts, in his prognostications for the new year,
put the following at the top of his list:
2003 the story will be confirmed that the U.S. invasion of
Iraq was a secret Israeli plan designed to involve the U.S.
long-term in the Arab-Israeli conflict, cynically sold to
the Bush White House by neoconservatives as a reelection strategy."
only disagreement I have with Roberts is that there is nothing
"secret" about the neocon strategy. The administration
has always insisted that Iraq threatens its neighbors, but
the nations of the Middle East are united in their opposition
to war – with the exception of Israel. The War Party has its
sights set not only on Iraq, but also on Hamas and Hezbollah
in Lebanon, as well as Syria. That Israel is the one and only
possible beneficiary of this mad rush to war has been clear
from the start.
may have been postponed, but the prospect of it will loom
large in the months to come. Now is the time for the worldwide
antiwar movement to redouble its efforts, especially in the
U.S. and the United Kingdom. The idea that war is "inevitable"
is just a lot of war propaganda, and recent events have underscored
an important point: the ruling elites will not go to war if
the price is perceived as too high. We must make them pay
the full costs, politically, if they dare to defy world opinion.
here at Antiwar.com, are doing our part to shape world opinion,
but you, our readers, can do more, not only by contributing
to our cause, but by actively participating in the movement
to stop what the neocons optimistically refer to as World
War Party is in retreat, and, as
Jackie Gleason used to say, "How sweet it is!"
But now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We are at
a crossroads in the battle for peace, what could well be a
turning point, and our strategy is clear: keep the pressure
been doing a lot of interviews lately. One of the most interesting
was with the conservative radio commentator Barry Farber,
who was a lot of fun. I did it in November, and it's available
on the web, in an audio file format, so check
it out here (you need Real Audio installed) if you want
to see two right-wingers butt heads over the Iraq question.
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