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Jewish World Review March 28, 2003 / 24 Adar II, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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The strong grow weak through inhibition


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As American troops face Iraqi soldiers, they confront an enemy whose major defense is our reluctance to use the force we have if there is a significant danger that we will kill innocent civilians. No better example can be found of what Henry Kissinger called the process by which "the weak grow strong through effrontery, and the strong grow weak because of inhibitions."

By stationing tanks inside hospitals, dressing as civilians, driving regular cars, and hiding inside the homes of ordinary people, Iraqi soldiers are deploying their most fearsome weapon: our own refusal to kill noncombatants.

We have already demonstrated that we are willing to spend billions of dollars to avoid killing civilians. Precision guided munitions, smart bombs and the like are all costly measures designed to save the lives of the innocent.

But what should we do when saving the innocent means killing American soldiers and prolonging the war?

Once we let Iraqi soldiers become confident in the belief that the United States won't attack them if they mingle with civilians, are we not encouraging them to do so? Won't our policy lead to the exact thing we are trying to avoid: more and more civilian deaths as the Iraqi Army deliberately mixes with the population to avoid American attacks?

But the political premise, that Americans will rebel against the war if we end up killing civilians, is not true. If the administration and the military make their case that the Iraqis are deliberately abusing our good will and manipulating our efforts to avoid civilian deaths, Americans will understand that we cannot ask our soldiers to take fire and not shoot back for fear of hitting civilians.

This is, after all, a war, not a hostage situation, however much the Iraqi army wants to make it one.

The Pentagon spokespeople should stress, in their briefings, the way the Iraqi army is endangering citizens by using them as human shields to deter American attacks. They should stress how our own policy of civilized warfare is leading to casualties. Americans will approve of loosening the rules of engagement to let our soldiers win this war quickly and with a minimum loss of American life.

Should the Iraqi army melt back into Baghdad a siege situation could develop where there are three things we can do: Shell and bomb the enemy, starve him out, or go in and get him.

Starving him would be unacceptable politically. It would leave Saddam in power for too long and give the anti-war movement around the world too much time to mobilize and too much of a weapon as photos of starving children sear the world's conscience.

Fighting in the streets of Baghdad is a little like "going into the water to fight the shark" (Winston Churchill's description of a land war in Asia against the Japanese). Churchill's metaphor tells us all we will ever need to know about street-to-street, house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. Were we to fall into that trap, we would become the latter day equivalent of the Israeli Army, condemned by public opinion as it buries civilians in bulldozed buildings.

The answer must be to unleash our military from its current restrictions and permit bombardment of whichever buildings shelter the enemy. Americans will understand that there will be civilian deaths, but they would vastly prefer those to unnecessary American military casualties.

Should the Iraqi Army use chemical or biological weapons, then all bets are off. The resulting outrage that would sweep America and the way the war would be instantly justified to anyone with eyes to see would remove many of the inhibitions that currently restrict our efforts.

Let's understand that Americans can be trusted to grasp that war is war and that it leads to deaths of innocents. But the tactics of the Iraqi army will assure that the blame falls on Saddam, not on us.

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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.

Up

03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris