How to Save the Airline Industry
Jude Wanniski
August 19, 2002


Memo To: Tom Ridge, Homeland Security director
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Don’t Invade Iraq

Remember, Tom, that I had warned twice in 1998 that we should be trying to figure out why the Muslims tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. If we didn’t, and take steps to correct the problem, I told Chairman Jesse Helms of the Foreign Relations Committee they would come back and bring down the Twin Towers. Richard Perle, who is telling President Bush to invade Iraq as soon as possible, and bring down Saddam Hussein, has it exactly wrong. If the President pulls the trigger without broad support in the Islamic world, it will be the end of commercial air traffic in the United States for a long time to come. We will be back to riding buses and trains.

It is no secret that one of your #1 worries in trying to protect the Homeland is the Stinger missile, which a couple of guys with a truck could use to bring down a jumbo jet if they find a good spot near a major airport. With all this baloney about how Saddam Hussein is trying to develop a weapon of mass destruction, we seem to forget that the Twin Towers came down with box cutters and a dozen maniacs willing to die for the cause. You should know by now how impossible it is for Saddam to acquire a nuclear weapon or a weaponized chem/bio weapon. You surely have been told that if he took the very first steps to do so, we would know about it from our spy satellites. It would take billion-dollar investments to reconstitute the facilities he had in the 1980's during Iraq’s war with Iran. If you don’t believe me, ask Scott Ritter, who was on the UN weapons inspection team for several years and watched the destruction of the facilities.

As for nukes, ask Dr. Gordon Prather, who knows more about these matters than anyone I knew in our government. A nuclear physicist, he was deputy assistant secretary of the army for science and tech in the Reagan years, and Richard Perle has used all his wiles to keep him out of the information flow to the President. Gordon will tell you the chief threat facing our American people is not Iraqi nukes, but terrorist Stingers. The Stinger missile is what won the Afghanistan war against he USSR. It is cheap and incredibly effective in blowing up airplanes at relatively low altitudes, like Continental, United, and American jets taking off or landing at our airports. Stingers are manufactured in the United States and Dr. Prather believes they can be stolen while in shipment. They are also small enough to be smuggled into the country in freighters.

You know me, Tom, by reputation and through our personal contacts through our mutual friend Bob Novak. I’d like you to really, really understand that once the terrorists brought down the Twin Towers, they accomplished what their cohorts could not in 1993. They got our attention. I believe there would be no more terrorist attacks on the United States as long as we responded correctly, which we did. The two things the President did that made the difference were: 1) he got the support of Pakistan in going after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and 2) he committed himself to a Palestinian state. Both of these achievements were possible because of the advice of Secretary of State Colin Powell. They were fought by Perle and his henchmen, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense Secretary. You must have noted that on FoxNewsSunday, when Tony Snow asked former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger if he twice mentioned Perle and Wolfowitz in negative terms because he thinks them naive or reckless. To which Eagleburger replied: "I must tell you, I think they're devious."

If the administration you serve does not invade Iraq, Tom, it will blow up Perle’s chessgame with Israeli’s Likudniks, who are doing everything to prevent the formation of a Palestinian state. The hard-core Zionists still believe they deserve ALL the Holy Land. If President Bush returns his focus to Israel and the Palestinian issue, away from Baghdad, he will be able to push Ariel Sharon toward a negotiated settlement. As long as this is happening, there would be NO INCENTIVE for any Islamic terrorist to lift a finger against the United States. All the Muslims want is a state for the Palestinians. That goes for Saddam Hussein himself. Once there is a Palestinian state, after 54 years of ups and downs, there will be no political reason for Israel to wish death and destruction on Iraq – a secular state which respects religious freedom for Christians and Jews. How telling it was for the Likud government to announce over the weekend that it would like the United States to invade Iraq as soon as possible.

A word about Richard Perle: I’ve known him since 1969 and have for many years considered him a friend and ally in our fight against the Communists in Moscow and Beijing. He has a high IQ, but I have not heard him say anything about foreign policy that struck me as being thought through. Colin Powell privately refers to him and Wolfowitz as "the bombers." The reason, I think, is that Perle's mentor and father-in-law, Albert Wohlstetter, was the brains in the family, and when Albert died, Richard inherited his global network of political supporters. I have likened Richard to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a Mickey Mouse who thinks he can do magic by using the Sorcerer’s wand. If you scratch Perle, you will find a mediocre strategist, a checker player at best.

The main point, though, is my warning that if we do invade Iraq because Richard Perle says we have to do so, we may have to forget about commercial air travel for many years. There would be no threat to homeland security or the airline industry if we can encourage Israel’s government to accept a Palestinian state. It is and has for years been the primary source of tension in the Middle East.