Let's Talk to Saddam Hussein!!
Jude Wanniski
October 1, 2001


Memo To: Sen Chuck Schumer [D-NY]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Jake Javits would do it!!

We have never met, Senator, but maybe we should. In the last few weeks, since the September 11 catastrophe, Iíve seen you on television several times and have been impressed with each appearance. Why? Because you are not following any script! You remind me of the late Sen. Jacob Javits, the New York Republican who was my favorite Republican Senator when I covered the Senate for the old National Observer. Every Jewish politician I have observed over the years has read straight from a script prepared from AIPAC, the American-Israel Political Action Committee. Robots one and all, including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. When I saw you on CNNís Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer Sunday afternoon, and heard you say we should support President Bush in his approach to the Islamic world Ė and that you could at least imagine a deal with Iraq Ė I immediately thought of Javits. If he were still alive, Iím absolutely sure he would see the security of Israel in terms of the willingness of its neighbors to accept Israeli statehood as long as they could resolve the legitimate demands of the Palestinians. And Javits would never flinch from talking to Saddam Hussein or the Devil Incarnate, because he would always figure he could get the better of the deal! Why are we afraid of talking to Saddam??

If you spend as much time watching the political talk shows on Sunday as I do, Senator, you may have seen FoxNews cable show in the early afternoon, when host Tony Snow interviewed Edward Peck, our ambassador to Baghdad in the late 1980s. To tell you the truth, Senator, I love Peck, I really do, because I think he has so much in his head because of that experience. There are others like him we have to consult, from our common pool of 285 million citizens, most of whom cannot help us in figuring out how to avoid an East/West war leading to oblivion. Peck is a mature man, probably around my age, 65, so what you get from him is distilled wisdom, without the cojones. When Tony asked him what he thought we should do about Iraq and Saddam Hussein, he mildly suggested we might think of talking to him. Talking to him!! Ed noted that it has been 11 years since we talked to Saddam. He didnít supply the details, but I can tell you the last time Saddam talked to us, as a government, he asked our permission to invade Kuwait. Yes he did. And we gave it to him. It was a diplomatic blunder, but we did it. If we had not, Senator, the last 11 years might have turned out differently, and the World Trade Center might still be standing. If that sounds nutsy to you, Senator, I will point out that in 1998, twice I posted memos here to Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warning that unless we took another look at the Islamic world, terrorists would return and bring down the twin towers. In retrospect, it seems obvious. But I saw it in advance.

There is now little doubt in my mind, Senator, that you are the man on the margin in the U.S. Senate. You have self-selected yourself for this role, and why not? You are the senior Senator of New York state, the place of the catastrophe, and you naturally have the most open mind on how to prevent a future occurrence. If that means talking to Saddam Hussein, well you are willing to do it. The junior Senator, Hillary, is still green and is not Jewish. I can tell you from my experience in dealing with Iraqi diplomats that you will find them much easier to get along with than you can possibly imagine. Remember Iraq is a secular state and that it also has been the most hospitable to Jews over the course of its history. Saudi Arabia will execute Jews or Christians trying to evangelize. Iraq has been the most open to religious freedom of all the Islamic nations. Did you know that? If not, please take some time to learn more about what has been going on in the Middle East. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that of all the Muslim leaders in the world that Saddam Hussein Ė as tough as he is Ė would have the fewest political problems with his own people in coming to terms with Israel than any other. Ask around and I think you will find Iím not wrong. Rethink.