From a column by Doug Bandlow, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Cato Institute (via Joe Conason, who asks why the anti-war right gets a free pass from the otherwise hysterical patriotism police):
Warns CIA Director George Tenet: “al-Qaeda is in an execution phase and intends to strike us both here and overseas.” An Italian investigator told Time magazine that al-Qaeda terrorists now “are better organized than at any point in the past year.” Muslim hatred of the West continues to grow. Palestinians and Israelis are at war. Islamic fundamentalists made dramatic electoral gains in Pakistan.
Why, then, the administration’s focus on Baghdad? Obviously Saddam is a monster. But Turkey treats its Kurds no better than does Iraq and Christian women are worse off in Saudi Arabia.
Baghdad has attacked its neighbors, but today is contained and constrained, far weaker than in 1990. Yes, Iraq deployed chemical weapons against Iran in war and maybe against the Kurds in civil war. But Saddam only used these weapons against defenseless adversaries. In contrast, the United States possesses thousands of nuclear warheads.
Baghdad is trying to develop an atomic bomb; so is North Korea, however. Brazil’s new leftist president-elect has expressed an interest in doing so. Islamic Pakistan already possesses nukes.
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To not attack Iraq is “appeasement” and “moral cowardice,” charges Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation. Washington’s critics are against us and “with our enemies,” says Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy.
In fact, opposition to the administration’s dangerous aggressiveness is simply good sense.
There is no more fundamental duty for government than to protect its people from outside threats. Yet President Bush admits, “We’ve got a long way to go” to defeat al-Qaeda. Making war on Iraq will make that defeat even more distant.