A Global Test for Pre-emptive War?

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To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Condoleezza and Wolf Debate

If you happened to see CNN's u201CLate Editionu201D Sunday with Wolf Blitzer,
you will have noted
his interview with Condi Rice
, President Bush's National Security
Advisor. I selected a portion of the transcript to demonstrate why
we are in such trouble in Iraq, as I have long believed that while
Dr. Rice is a charming lady, she is incompetent in her job. The
topic is Senator Kerry's idea, which he mentioned in his debate
with President Bush last week, that while the United States reserves
the right to take pre-emptive military action against a perceived
threat, it should meet a u201Cglobal test,u201D i.e., u201Cwhere your countrymen,
your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing,
and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.u201D

That seemed reasonable enough to me, but the Bush team immediately
leaped on the idea as if Kerry were saying we had to first get a
u201Cpermission slipu201D from the United Nations. Read the words and you
will see when Kerry came to u201Cthe world,u201D he moves to the past tense,
saying you should have to prove you u201Cdid itu201D for legitimate reasons.
With Iraq, of course, because there was no imminent threat, Mr.
Bush did go to the United Nations and try to persuade the Security
Council that Saddam Hussein should be forcibly removed because he
was not meeting the conditions of UNSCRes #1441. We now know he
was meeting those conditions, and Senator Kerry u201Cwon the debateu201D
with Mr. Bush last week by pointing out that there were no legitimate
reasons for going to war while the President continues to insist
diplomacy had failed.

In hearing the exchange Wolf had with Condi, it occurred to me that
he would make a much better National Security Advisor should Mr.
Bush succeed in winning a second term. With Dr. Rice still at his
side, we might well expect another pre-emptive war, without a permission
slip from the U.N. or any kind of reasonable test:

BLITZER: Here’s a new ad that John Kerry is running in the aftermath
of this debate. Listen to this.

ANNOUNCER: George Bush lost the debate. Now he’s lying about it.
This is what you heard John Kerry really say: “The president always
has the right for preemptive strike. I will hunt and kill the terrorists
wherever they are.” But here’s something new about George Bush.
Newspapers report he withheld key intelligence information from
the American public so he could overstate the threat Iraq posed.
Bush rushed us into war.

BLITZER: All right, what about that, the whole notion that now he
says the president – this is what the Democrats and Kerry are saying
– the president is lying when he says that there’s a Kerry doctrine
that would not allow preemptive strikes?

RICE: I’ll tell you what I heard, and, you know, I don’t want to
get into the politics here, you know that. But I will tell you what
I heard. I heard Senator Kerry say there was some kind of global
test that you ought to be able to pass to support preemption. And
I fundamentally don’t understand what a global test is.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s listen precisely to what John Kerry said
on that issue, the global test. Listen to this.

all of American history has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right
to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of
America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you’ve got to do it in
a way that passes the test, that passes the global test, where your
countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re
doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate

BLITZER: All right.

RICE: I don’t understand, proving to the world that you did it for
legitimate reasons. What, that we took Saddam Hussein out, somebody
that for 17 resolutions and 12 years shooting at aircraft and so
forth that somehow that didn’t prove to the world? But let’s go
back to this notion of a global test. What does that mean? Does
that mean the consensus of the international community of Cuba and
countries like that, that we’ve passed the global test? The words
are what the words are.

BLITZER: I’ll tell you what his people are saying, is that what
he says is, there should be a preemptive strike, if necessary, as
a last resort, but at the same time you should explain to the world
what you’re doing.

RICE: No, it said it should be able to pass a global test. And I
don’t know how you pass a global test, given that, by the way, you
couldn’t even get consensus on the fact that, after Saddam Hussein
had defied the international community for all of those years, that
it was time to do something. Can you imagine trying to pass a global
test in a Security Council that Syria has sat in? The fact is, he
said what he said. Now, what the president did when he went into
Iraq, of course, was to go to the international community. There
was explanation after explanation of why it was important to deal
with this threat. But you’re never going to get 100 percent consensus.
We went in with a large coalition. Some people didn’t disagree.
The issue is, if France and Germany don’t disagree, do you decide
not to do it?

BLITZER: Two other things I want to get through before I let you
go. On the day after the debate, the president said this in Allentown,
Pennsylvania, and I want your explanation. Listen to this.

BUSH: The use of troops to defend America must never be subject
to a veto by countries like France. (APPLAUSE) The president’s job
is not to take an international poll. The president’s job is to
defend America.

BLITZER: All right. When I heard that, I said the president is singling
out France, America’s oldest ally, for ridicule in this kind of
a political context. Is that appropriate?

RICE: There’s no ridicule here. It’s a statement of fact. The French
didn’t agree. And, you know, the French took what they believed
to be a principled stand. They didn’t believe – I remember that
the French foreign minister said, essentially, there was no resolution
they would vote for that would lead to war. Well, at that point,
you have to make a decision. Are you going to allow this to be a
veto, or are you going to go ahead? Because, after all, France did
have a veto in the Security Council. The president and a number
of other countries, Prime Minister Blair, the Poles, the Australians
and now 30 other countries, decided it was time to take care of
this threat.

BLITZER: The only reason I raise it, at a time like this, a delicate
time, when you’re trying to get France to support the United States,
is it appropriate for the president to be ridiculing France?

RICE: It’s not a matter of ridicule. It’s a statement of fact. The
French know that they didn’t support this. The French know that
they were the ones who said there was no resolution that they would
vote for. And the president and President Chirac had a number of
conversations before this. And I can remember one in particular
in which they essentially agreed to disagree. And, at that point,
the president had to make a decision.

let her off the hook at this point, as she looked stressed out,
but if he wished to continue he would have pointed out that in retrospect,
the French were absolutely right and that she and the President
were absolutely wrong. If there was no legitimate reason to go to
war with Iraq, because Saddam was doing everything required of him
under the previous resolution that had French support, logic would
dictate that France would not vote for war no matter how a new resolution
was worded. The only plausible legitimate excuse for war in retrospect
would be if WMD or weapons programs were subsequently discovered.
There are still those like media mogul Mort Zuckerman who seem to
remember that Saddam was not giving the inspectors what they had
asked for, but if he would check with his reporters at U.S. News
& World Report or The New York Daily News, he will find
Saddam had not held back a thing. Dr. Rice should have known that
at the time. It was in all the papers.

7, 2004

Wanniski [send him mail]
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