THE OUTRAGEOUS, bordering on traitorous visit of three congressmen to Baghdad reminds me of an old saying my wife, a second-grade teacher, once learned at a conference on classroom discipline: It takes one fool to backtalk; it takes two fools to make a conversation out of it.
Saddam Hussein can be expected to engage in his share of foolish blather, issuing meaningless promises in the desperate hope of holding onto power long enough to complete his nuclear-weapons program. Yet it takes the foolishness of three Democrats to make a conversation out of it, to treat his lies and evasions like serious dialogue worthy the world’s consideration.
And it takes a very special breed of fool, indeed, to propose that Saddam Hussein, who has spent more than a decade making and breaking uncountable promises to the U.S. and the U.N., now merits the world’s trust. One such fool is Representative Jim McDermott, who, after tea and crumpets with a handful of Iraqi officials, is now convinced that Baghdad wants peace.
In a party full of wafflers, dissemblers and chronic appeasers, McDermott and his two traveling companions, Representative David Bonior and Representative Mike Thompson, have truly distinguished themselves. They are the Democrats’ three stooges — stooges for Hussein, and his corrupt regime, unwittingly doing the tyrant’s bidding in the U.S. Congress.
U.N weapons inspectors will have the run of Saddam’s kingdom, McDermott told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. After all, his Baghdad hosts told him so. “They said they would allow us to go anywhere we wanted,” McDermott explained. “I think you have to take the Iraqis on their face value … They should be given a chance, otherwise we’re trying to provoke them into war.”
That’s right, we’re provoking them. It’s all America’s fault; it always is.
Hussein’s track record on telling the truth doesn’t much concern the stooges, who are convinced that this time the Butcher of Baghdad is playing it straight. Even irrefutable evidence that they have been lied to — like the Iraqi vice president’s recent insistence that his country will accept only old U.N. inspection terms, which exclude some 12 square miles of Hussein’s presidential palaces—can’t seem to disabuse the stooges of the belief that the U.N. will get “unrestricted, unconditional, unfettered” access to Iraqi sites (Bonior’s words).
The three self-appointed emissaries seem more concerned with Hussein’s self-esteem than his nefarious plans and operations. Iraqi officials “don’t want to be having knocked on the door during prayer and say, ‘Open up this building in five minutes,’ ” explained Bonior. “They want to be treated with some dignity and respect.”
Dignity and respect? There’s little room for dignity and respect during times of war, when an enemy poses a deadly threat to the nation and its very security.
How much dignity and respect did the Islamofascists show toward the poor stewardesses whose very throats they slit before commandeering airliners full of innocent passengers and slamming them into densely populated buildings—an act Hussein’s state-run newspaper praised as “God’s Punishment”? How much dignity and respect did Saddam accord to the Kurds he gassed to death? How much dignity and respect has he paid America by repeatedly lying to our leaders and shooting at our planes ever since 1991?
Saddam Hussein is entitled only to the same “dignity and respect” as any other criminal. That means that, the hand-wringing of the three stooges aside, he can scarcely complain about being subjected to the diplomatic equivalent of random drug tests and a complete cavity search. At the very least, he must accept inspections at any time and any place, even if he and his comrades are busy praying for our annihilation.
But history makes it clear that he will never consent to any such thing, no matter what he might say now. Even if he does relent momentarily, inspections will only continue only until inspectors get anywhere near the contraband that no one seriously doubts he has. That’s why he drove inspectors out of the country in 1998, giving himself four more years to further his studies while concealing their fruits.
The point of Bush’s insisting on renewed inspections isn’t that the White House actually thinks Hussein will cooperate, but that the inevitable lack of cooperation should be sufficient to convince America’s skeptical allies to join us in the next phase in the War on Terror. The inspections talk is a useful ploy; Saddam’s backtalk is a useless diversion; and the Democrats’ making a discussion out of it is a destructive disservice to the national interest.
Last week, Majority Leader Tom Daschle threw a highly publicized tantrum on the floor of the U.S. Senate in response to a Bush comment which, when taken grossly out of context, suggested that Democrats weren’t serious about winning the war. Yet this week, Daschle has remained remarkably silent about the behavior of his own partisans, which damningly proves the point that Bush was too polite to make himself. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt has likewise been too busy schmoozing with the likes of Barbra Streissand to denounce three subordinates who have brought shame and ignominy to his party.
Bush needn’t call the Democrats’ loyalty into question. They’re doing that quite well on their own.