Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2003 / 19 Adar I, 5763
The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
It doesn't matter what the polls say right now about the war in Iraq. When we
invade, we either will or will not find what Secretary of State Colin Powell says is
there. If we do not find it, President Bush will be in serious trouble. If we do, all of his
critics will be.
Unlike so many issues in public policy, this one will be determined shortly one way
or another. One may have to wait years before we can determine if a legislative
course succeeds or fails. Usually, by the time the verdict is in, the voters have
shifted their attention far away.
But Iraq either will be found to have the chemical and biological weapons we fear it
has and the incipient nuclear capacity or these nightmares will prove to have been
paranoid. The fact that the denouement will take place in a few weeks, while the
whole world is watching, makes this outcome a seminal one for our politics and the
new world order.
My money's on President Bush. He wouldn't be pushing us toward this war unless he
felt he had the goods on Saddam.
If Bush is right, the left in the United States will be discredited for many decades to
come. In the opposite of the Vietnam syndrome, where the left proved to be correct -
it didn't make a bit of difference in the cold war whether we won or lost in Vietnam -
it will now be proven massively, totally wrong.
With each weapons lab and bomb factory our troops find, the credibility of the left
wing of the Democratic Party will go down the drain, not to rise again for many
years. In retrospect, they will seem as misguided as the appeasers of Munich were
and their political fortunes will be just as doomed.
Politically, in the United States, Iraq will become a term like "Munich" to debunk
the appeasers. Like "Vietnam" it will be a place that becomes a lesson. It will stand as
the prime example of how reflexive opposition to violence undermines the long term
cause of world peace. Those who are now marching for peace are on their last march.
Soon, the reality of the world around them will force its way into their consciousness
and the shame of the inaction they urged will keep them indoors in the future when
the peace trumpet summons them again.
The United Nations Security Council will go the way of the General Assembly. The
takeover of the larger body by a myriad of tiny nations with no power and less
credibility doomed it to the role of a by-stander when U.N. action was called for.
Now, the subservience of the U.N. Security Council to the veto and voice of nations
like France will make it irrelevant as well, just as the Soviet vetoed marginalized it
during the Cold War.
Nor will NATO survive the ravaging of the French and German intransigence. No
longer will the alliance be the forum for joint decision making about Western
The lesson of the Iraq War will be that the world is unipolar and that anyone who
wants a voice needs to be heard at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The European Union
headquarters in Brussels won't do and the U.N. headquarters in New York will be
marginalized. The only forum at which to speak will be at the forum of American
foreign policy decision-making.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair understands the new reality. By flying to Texas
and Washington, Blair shows that he realizes that it is only by injecting himself into
the U.S. decision-making context that he can influence the outcome of events. It will
be a very long time before France or Germany recover their voices after we find the
weapons caches in Iraq.
President Bush's poll ratings going into the war are slipping. His job approval
appears to have dipped below 60 percent, less than Bill Clinton had during his entire
second term. But they will be very high coming out of Iraq. And that's what will
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Dick Morris