The Ugly American
Jude Wanniski
September 9, 1996


Memo To: General Colin Powell
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Brent Scowcroft 

On Fox "Sunday Morning (with Tony Snow)," Scowcroft this morning said several really amazing things, which you should know about. He said our involvement in Iraq has nothing to do with the Kurds, that it is only about teaching Saddam "a lesson." He said he wishes we had slaughtered the Republican Guard instead of allowing them to return to Iraq after they had given up. (He even chided the reporters on the show for having carped about the killing.) Then he said it is a mistake for the US government to have passed a law making it illegal for anyone in our government to participate in the assassination of a foreign political leader. This strikes me as madness, the madness of American triumphalism, a world in which we bomb our way into the affections of the people of the planet. The rule against assassination of foreign political leaders is a principle that has been established over millennia. If JFK had not ordered the assassination of Castro, he would not have been assassinated himself. For Brent Scowcroft to suggest that there is an official Cosa Nostra tells us emphatically that we are going off history's deep end. 

On CNN's Late Edition, Leon Panetta (who is nothing less than the White House chief of staff), announced that it is now American policy to tell Saddam Hussein that "You are not going to get away with using force on your own people." That is, we will support any civil war against the duly constituted government of Iraq. Yes, duly constituted, or the Baghdad government would not be recognized by most countries in the region and in the world.

This is the world of Albert Wohlstetter, a strategic genius who has pushed his followers to a reductio ad absurdum in a senseless quest to make the United States perfectly secure. This leads to an international police state, trampling over the due process of international law. I'm terrified that this will lead off a terrorist response that will aim at doing far greater damage than was done in Oklahoma City. Do you not worry about such things?

The reason I send this to you, General Powell, is that you are among the few Americans with sufficient leverage to bring some sanity to this discussion. By your own quick salute to Clinton's precipitous action which he took without consulting anyone you owe it to your fellow citizens to discuss first principles of a New World Order.