Iraq and the Beltway Press
Jude Wanniski
September 10, 1996

 

Memo To: Tim Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Interview with General Shalikashvili 

Congratulations on stripping the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff down to his political skivvies. The idea that Saddam is in a worse position now than he was a week or so ago is palpable nonsense. I'm especially pleased that you noted the French and Russians attribute our action to election-year politics, which we must assume it was, because it was made without consultation with anyone either in the Congress or in the Gulf coalition. When both political parties rally to the defense of the Commander in Chief on the spurious ground that we must salute anything he pulls out of his hat, the only defense the American people have is our free press. Bob Dole acted more like the Senate Majority Leader than a presidential candidate, and his quick salute to Clinton's cruise missiles forced the entire GOP to fall into line with muttered statements of support. Only Perot was free to blast Clinton for dropping bombs in order to get a bump in the polls. (It is for this reason alone that we should have Perot in the debates.)

The reason we have no support from the coalition is that the coalition has been trying to get us to permit Iraq to sell its oil for the last three years, on the grounds that Saddam has done everything we have required of him. The United States alone has stood in the way, privately pushing up the terms every time Saddam reaches compliance. This was more or less the message of Turkey's Ambassador to the United States, Nuzhet Kandemir, on the Brinkley show, who said if we were to try serious negotiations with Saddam, we could solve the problem. Our Cold Warriors, including most of the senior Senators of both parties Lugar, Nunn, Warner, and a good chunk of the press the WSJ editorial page, Beltway Bill Kristol, George Will & Co. need an enemy to keep our military/industrial complex fueled. (These are the people Colin Powell refers to genetically as "bombers.")

The Turkish ambassador was the only voice on the Sunday talk shows who said anything that did not come out of the Beltway homogenizing machine. I congratulate you for making Shalikashvili squirm, Tim, but you were no better than the other shows (the Turkish ambassador excepted) in providing the other side of the story. When the Russians opposed us on the grounds that the United States is approaching international anarchy, their reasoning should at least be explored. I'm in complete agreement that we are now expecting the whole world to do our bidding, as designed by our Old Cold Warriors. My hope is that you, or someone else in your powerful position, would force a discussion on what this New World Order is going to be like. Do we have to take account of anyone else's opinion before we drop bombs on another country when its head of state responds to a regional government to help put down an insurrection? Are we going to be a benign imperium, or will we bomb our way through the 21st century?