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Saddam’s Not Budging


The The Today Show can stop saying “possible war.”

The Brutal Truth


Here’s what one British Labour MP has to say about Iraq. Be warned, it does not make easy reading. These are words that the writers at Le Figaro might want to consider the next time they consider describing Jacques Chirac as “a champion of all the oppressed of the Earth.”




According to NPR this morning, Iraqis have not yet been told about the ultimatum. Hmmm, do you suppose that Saddam could be less sure of that much-vaunted “100 percent” support than he likes to let on?

Web Briefing: July 11, 2014

Drinking At The Switch



Oh No


Next Time


John, next time we’re up late in The Corner, you bring the ice cream.

Eu Standards


A democratically elected government leader is invited to speak to the EU ‘parliament’ in Brussels. Then he is warned that if he accepts the invitation he will be denied a visa. Impossible? No, not if the EU’s leaders are busy looking for another dictatorship to crawl to, in this case China. The unfortunate democratic leader? He’s the President of Taiwan.

I Hate The French Vanilla


Finally, an alternative to Ben & Jerry’s.

Larry Eagleburger


Just called France a nation of pipsqueaks on Fox. I was only half paying attention, but he sure did. Who would have known.

Orange On St. Pat’s Day


St. Patrick is the saint of ALL Ireland, including the Orange bits. As I
had occasion to remind a colleague earlier today, the largest structure in
Ireland named after St. Patrick is a Protestant cathedral. “Patrick” was
until recently a common name among N. Ireland Orangemen. It was certainly
common in the Scottish border country from which they came. The great
American revolutionary Patrick Henry was from Border Protestant stock.



Went to a bar with a colleague before the speech. The guys behind it were wearing t-shirts with a red-white-and-blue shambrock. Below it, Edmund Burke’s line about the triumph of evil and good men doing nothing. Then: “Support the troops / St Patrick’s Day 2003.”

Color of The Day


Isn’t there something inapt about going to code orange on St. Patrick’s Day? Memo to Karl Rove: Good luck explaining this one to Irish Americans.

Favorite Lines


My favorite lines weren’t uttered by the president, but by my kids. Just as the speech was beginning, my three-year-old daughter informed me that “The president man has to catch some bad guys.” She apparently thinks George Bush is some kind of superhero who will remove his suit Klark Kent-style, fly over to Iraq, and physically take care of that supervillain Saddam. My slightly more sophisticated son, age five, saw NBC flash to a view of American soldiers in Kuwait watching the president’s address. His comment: “Those are the good guys!” Right on, kids.



I didn’t especially care for Bush’s delivery. Bush should have been less somber, and more assertive. His brow seemed furrowed throughout the entire speech. I enjoyed many of the same lines Rod did: drifting toward tragedy/setting a course toward safety, and not a question of authority/a question of will. I also agree with Jonah that the highlight of the speech was when he spoke directly to the Iraqi people–because of the effect it would have on Americans. Let’s hope it persuades the Iraqis, too.

Gwb Speech


The President’s motivation is perfectly plain and perfectly rational: he
doesn’t want to lose a city. Taking out SH doesn’t eliminate the
possibility of this happening, but it sure reduces it.

My personal guess is that GWB wants to roll up all these nuke and
incipient-nuke dictatorships. (I heard a story that at a Cabinet meeting
after the Taliban fell, he turned to Condi Rice and asked: “Who’s next?”)
After Iraq, massive pressure on Iran would be logical–or some sort of
ultimatum to them, followed by a pre-emptive strike. Then North Korea,
which will be tricky & involve real diplomacy, with some nonzero probability
of war (I’d say 30 percent).

We simply can’t let these nutso states get nukes, or in NK’s case keep them.
We have to stop it, or else face losing a city or two. That’s the lesson of
9/11. GWB is on the case. Of course he might fail–any human enterprise
might fail. He’d be violating his oath of office if he didn’t try, though.

I like this man and I support what he’s doing. Let’s roll.

What Was Missing


I thought Bush’s speech would be more Reaganesque, in the sense that Reagan liked to use props to illustrate his points. Remember those speeches from behind the desk in the Oval Office, in which Reagan would display some black-and-white satellite photo purporting to show Soviet missile deployments, or some such thing? I’ve been expecting Bush to use this approach for weeks, and thought that he would do it for sure tonight. Something like pictures of suspicious-looking trucks racing away from a death factory a day before Hans Blix showed up there.

The Nudity Was Tasteful!


Oh, wait. I was watching something else.

Humble But Magnificent


That was a tremendous speech. It wasn’t a tremendous piece of rhetoric, but this grave moment doesn’t call for it. The president was plainspoken, stern and unrelenting. He laid the case out for the war as cleanly as he could. Here are the notes I took:

1) “Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again, because we are not dealing with peaceful men.” Time for the illusions about human evil to end.

2) “Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course for safety. … This danger will be removed.” America is not going to sit around waiting to be hit again; we’re going to do something about it.

3) “This is not a question of authority. This is a question of will.” This is not an illegal war. The two UN Security Council resolutions authorizing the Gulf War are still in effect, and Saddam Hussein has clearly violated Resolution 1441.

4) France, Germany, Russia and others (he named none of these countries) are cowards. America and her allies are not. “These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. … The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.”

5) America is coming not as the conqueror of the Iraqi people, but as their liberator.

6) The American homeland may face terrorist attacks because of the coming conflict. Be prepared.

7) Given the realities of the world we live in today, there is more risk in not acting against tyrants like Saddam than in acting. The president recalled the 9/11 surprise attacks, and said that given the existence of WMDs, “a policy of appeasement can bring forth a destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth.” America’s enemies today don’t play by the old rules. “Responding to those enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense; it is suicide.” (I hope the Pope was listening to that.)

It can’t be clearer than that. Resolved: this is a just war, a necessary war, and a war that will be led by a commander-in-chief we can believe in.

The Right Tone, The Right Substance


I don’t know that it was a perfect speech, but it’s hard to think of how Bush could be expected to do better. I think the direct appeal to the Iraqi people and military will be the most effective part — for the American people. It reinforced the the non-cowboy image and it underlined that Bush isn’t looking to kill anybody needlessly. I think as a matter of substance, it’s probably a mistake to limit the ultimatum to solely Saddam and his sons. However, limiting it to just three men, underscores how this is a war to get rid of a few selfish and brutal men.

“When Diplomacy Fails”


That’s what ABC News is calling its special coverage of Bush’s speech. Too bad they weren’t around for Pearl Harbor. They could have called it “When Air Defenses Fail.”


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