August 12, 2002


Bush hears war naysayers (Robert Novak, August 12, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
While Saddam Hussein's raving from Baghdad built war fever in Washington last week, calming forces worked behind the scenes. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage have had a heart-to-heart talk with President Bush about the difficulties of initiating war with Iraq. Other influential voices were cautioning against an imminent attack to drive Saddam from power.

The climate is not propitious for a major U.S. military initiative. Official opposition from Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan underlined the isolation of American power. A deteriorating situation in Afghanistan builds the one-war-at-a-time argument. The steadfast Republican voices of Jack Kemp and Brent Scowcroft urge restraint. So do members of Congress from both parties, with House Majority Leader Dick Armey last Thursday warning against an unprovoked attack on Iraq.

None of this erases George W. Bush's commitment to change the regime in Baghdad. Nor does it dilute the immense influence of Vice President Dick Cheney, who broke his silence last week to warn against permitting Saddam to develop weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, there was a palpable muffling of American war drums.

A couple folks asked about this column today and whether it means George W. Bush is wobbling. But Mr. Novak is notoriously pro-Arab and anti-Zionist--to the point where Syria's vile dictator Hafez al-Assad gave him and former partner Rowland Evans (Jody Powell and the other Carterites used to call them "Errors" and "No Facts") an exclusive interview years ago--and this seems like little more than an attempt to change the terms of the debate to protect another Arab dictatorship. There's nothing wrong with opposing the war but seeing Mr. Novak side with those he's called the "striped pants crowd" and the "cookie pushers" of Foggy Bottom is immensely amusing. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2002 5:26 PM
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