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FLAME Outstanding Articles on the Middle East Printer-Friendly Version

Understanding the Problem
Now that things in Iraq turn out to be a little more difficult than all of us had hoped there are many grumblings and second guessings about whether or not it was right to eliminate Saddam Hussein. But the president was right. Saddam Hussein was a danger to the whole world and we all should be grateful that he is no longer a menace. This JINSA article makes the case very well.

Gerardo Joffe, President

Report #364 from Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
October 3, 2003

Israel's friends often bewail the apparent inability of the Israeli government to explain its problems in a way that makes others agree with Israel's decisions about confronting them. "Israel has lousy hasbara; Israel is losing the PR war," they say.

In the face of increasingly strident claims that the war in Iraq was a mistake, we were going to say the US has this problem as well. Maybe the war wasn't a mistake, but President Bush has failed to make a convincing case, particularly since we haven't found the WMD yet. Then we were going to turn to the fabulously articulate Tony Blair for the words. We're glad we didn't. President Bush, in fact, made profoundly important points about Iraq before the war: about the possession and use of chemical weapons by Saddam; about the missiles Saddam possessed and used; about the nexus between terrorists and the states that harbor and support them; about September 11th making it clear that the US cannot wait to be attacked, but must confront dangers as they grow. In his State of the Union Address, the President was clear and articulate, and more important, he was right:

The gravest danger...facing America and the world is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them the least hesitation.

A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax—enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material... (and) materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin--enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.

A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all.

America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers... freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to humanity.

OK, so that last one isn't a justification for the war—but we liked it. Ultimately what is clear is that the problem isn't always PR or articulation. It may also be that others understand the problem perfectly well, they just don't want it resolved, or don't want it resolved in America's favor. Or Israel's.

Facts and Logic About the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159

Gerardo Joffe, President

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