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December 19, 2003
Strib Catches Dean Madness

Today's editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune asserts that, as Dean says, America is no safer after the capture of Saddam Hussein:

We don't have a dog in the Democratic presidential fight, but we do know that front-runner Howard Dean, like him or not, is getting beaten up unfairly for telling an unpleasant truth: The capture of Saddam Hussein hasn't made America safer. It was an excellent piece of work, it may make Iraqis safer, and it may help protect American forces in Iraq. But the capture does nothing directly to secure the United States from the danger posed by terrorism.

That's because the war on terrorism has nothing to do with Iraq. Saddam was an ogre who can legitimately be charged with crimes against humanity, genocide and assorted other nasty behaviors. But there's no evidence he was an international terrorist, and that's not likely to change no matter how many times the Bush administration says it knows he was.

It's hard to know where to start when talking someone down from a rhetorical ledge when they're so determined to jump, and in the case of the Strib, one wonders if we're not better off when they do.

First, America is safer because Americans are safer, American and British soldiers in particular. The editorial tries to create the false dichotomy that the Dean campaign made in its support for Dean's statement, but the American military represents the US wherever it goes. This is precisely why we cannot allow attacks on our military to go without a military response; it shows that we will tolerate attacks on America. You can draw a direct line between attacks on American military and diplomatic assets starting in 1979 by Islamofascists straight through to 9/11.

Second, the notion that there is no connection between the Saddam Hussein regime and terrorism is absolute nonsense. Iraq maintained a terrorist training facility in Salam Pak that included a passenger-jet fuselage to train for hijackings, for one thing, and until just before the war was hosting one of the world's most notorious terrorists, Abu Nidal. Abu Nidal committed suicide in August 2002 using the curious method of firing multiple bullets into his head. Prior to his creative exit, Abu Nidal headed a terrorist organization that was international in reach and as deadly as they come, as outlined by the Council of Foreign Relations.

Nor was that the only tie to terrorism, as the Strib should know. The release of the Feith memo demonstrated numerous links between Saddam and terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, from multiple intelligence sources. James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, declared that after reading the Feith memo he was convinced of Saddam's involvement in terrorism; in fact, he claimed it was a "slam dunk," as I posted earlier. The Feith memo clearly states the body of intelligence from which both the Clinton and Bush administrations operated, and it was clear to both that Saddam's Iraq promoted and supported terrorism.

Furthermore, Saddam's continued presence in power demonstrated to the Arab world not American patience or American justice, but American weakness in the face of Arab defiance. Strictly on the terms of the cease-fire he had signed with the American-led 1991 coalition, Saddam had provided a casus belli many times over. Not only that, but his continued defiance of numerous UN resolutions demonstrated global impotence in the Middle East, an impression ably amplified by the Axis of Weasels, who were busy undermining the economic and military sanctions that Madeline Albright and others claim were keeping Saddam in his box.

The Strib should know all of these things, even if they didn't deign to cover the Feith memo, apparently of the opinion that Minneapolis readers aren't terribly interested in having all of the facts in front of them. In 1998, however, the Strib certainly felt differently, as James Lileks pointed out last September:

Let’s go back to the editorial page the day after the 1998 bombing. Lead edit. Title: “BOMBING SADDAM. Reason is clear; let attack be sustained.” The writer lays out the case: Saddam has not complied with his obligations; he threw away the last chance that President Clinton gave him in November; Tony Blair agrees. Said the editorial: “Neither will the attack be credible if it is limited to a few cruise missiles lobbed at Iraq. This must be the sustained, punishing effort that Clinton has promised.”

The end result of which was five more years of Saddam’s rule. Interesting choice of words, that: “Punishing.” Saddam must be punished, then left in power. He must be hit with a credible attack, then left in power. The punishing, credible attack that leaves him in power must be sustained. And so forth.

I’ve read enough editorials from various papers from this period to reinforce something I’ve long suspected: the reason many editorialists hate this war is because they don’t feel it’s theirs.

In 1998, Saddam was enough of a danger to the US to bomb him, but what changed in the intervening five years? Nothing except more defiance, and the fact that Saddam got richer off of his oil-for-food program and used the money to rearm his forces. But to this newspaper, in 1998 Saddam was a danger; in 2003, suddenly he's a pussycat. The Strib has been remarkably consistent in only one aspect: its opposition to George W. Bush in everything he does, even when it agrees with its previously stated editorial positions. The Strib will even try to recast reality to fit its irrational dislike of the current administration and attempt to undermine American war efforts.

UPDATE: Big Trunk at Power Line posts a quick thought on The Triumph of the Real Over the Unreal, and the excerpt from Henninger's column in today's article aptly describes the intellectual bankruptcy of the Strib's editorial board. The play's the thing; the script is written; let no facts or events deter them from their goal.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 19, 2003 6:19 AM

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