Somewhere on A1A...

Sunday, August 18, 2002

I think Thomas Friedman is one of the better columnists around. His Pulitzer Prizes were well earned, although I usually haven't found myself agreeing with him lately. Today's column is different.
He is right on, both about the foolishness fo the current Arab Intifada, and his call for President Bush to make a better case for action in Iraq.

From the moment this intifada got rolling, Palestinians have never been able to explain why they were adopting armed struggle, killing Israeli civilians with suicide bombs and exposing their own people and institutions to utter devastation — when they had a credible opening diplomatic offer to end the occupation.
He's afraid the US will be in the same boat if it fails to make a good case for the need to displace Saddam Hussein.
Attention President Bush: What is your bumper sticker for justifying war with Iraq? I've heard a lot of different ones lately: We need to pre-emptively attack before Saddam deploys weapons of mass destruction. We need to change the Iraqi regime to give birth to democracy in Iraq and the wider Arab world. We need to eliminate Saddam because he is evil and may have been behind 9/11. We need to punish Saddam for not living up to the U.N. inspection resolutions.

All of these are legitimate rationales, but each would require a different U.S. military and diplomatic strategy. If the Bush team is serious about Iraq, it needs to zero in on one clear objective, produce a tightly focused war plan around it and then sell it — with a simple bumper sticker — to America and the world. If the Bush administration's different factions — which are as divided as the Palestinians' — can't do that in advance, they shouldn't move.
He's right.


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