March 23, 2004

to strike an impressive blow

David Bernstein writes at The Volokh Conspiracy:

CLARKE ON BUSH: I don't know anything about Richard Clarke, but he sure isn't making the Bush Administration look good. I'm still hoping that going after Iraq first instead of the real terrorist threat of Iran was part of some grand master plan, and not an inexplicable obsession with Saddam, but Clarke's claim that top Bushie's were obsessed with Iraq both before and after 9/11 gives me pause.
No one doubts that Iran is tops in supporting terrorists, (though Iraq did plenty of it too) but still I find this puzzling...

What does he mean by "go after Iran?" Does he mean invasion? Is so, ponder on how hard it was, diplomatically and politically, to organize an invasion of Iraq. And that despite tons of good excuses: UN Resolutions, genocide, actual use of WMD's, aggressive unprovoked wars. None of those things were available for Iran. I don't think a military attack was ever in the cards.

If Bernstein means lesser sorts of pressure, diplomacy and sanctions and embargoes and such, well, phoooey. That's just more Clintonian BS, and I guess it's hardly worth arguing with such ineffectual stuff.

And of course there IS a master plan. The heart and origin of Islamic radicalism lies in the failure and backwardness and despotism of the Arab world. And the "neocon" plan is to plant a powerful example of democracy and economic freedom right smack dab in the middle of the mess, with hopes of starting a new trend. You may not like the plan, but it's silly to say there isn't one. And for a variety of reasons Iran wouldn't be useful for that. It's not Arab, it's partly democratic, and it's not the sort of gross failure that all Arab countries are. (No doubt Mr Bernstein is aware of the plan, and is ignoring it for rhetorical purposes.)

And even without "the plan," anyone who wanted to really fight against terrorism had good reason to become obsessed with Iraq, and there was nothing inexplicable about it. The necessary first step (the little neocon inside me says) was to hit one important terror-supporting country really hard. Only then would the other terror-supporting tyrants take us seriously and start mending their ways, or changing. (and despite leftist lies, there's never been an intent to fight "an endless series of wars.")

And if you want to strike an impressive blow, Iraq is the obvious choice. Most of the others are too weak militarily to demonstrate our willingness to fight. Conquering Libya or Syria won't shake Iraq, but conquering Iraq has already shaken Libya and Syria and quite a few others. Including probably Iran.

And while toppling the Iranian regime would probably not have weakened Saddam much, toppling Saddam has surely greatly weakened the position of the Mullahs, and greatly encouraged those who hope to rebel against them.

Posted by John Weidner at March 23, 2004 12:39 PM
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