Along the Tracks

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Lying through his teeth

Jimmy Carter has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post which - like most of what Carter has to say - boggles the mind. Human rights, internationalism and Mideast peace are the three prongs of his pitchfork he wishes to aim at George W. Bush, but as usual, that fork is soundly stuck in his own tail.

Human rights? Carter complains Bush is condoning abuses by nations who are our erstwhile allies in the war on terrorism. Excuse me, Jimmy, but weren’t you just visiting Cuba a couple months ago to praise Fidel Castro and his repressive regime? Puh-leeeze.

Internationalism? Dim Jim, it was your fear of “what the neighbors might think” that kept you from approving a military mission which might have had a snowball's chance in hell to rescue our American hostages in Tehran after you allowed the crisis between the Shah and Ayatollah Khomeini to boil over. The student-terrorists of Iran didn’t bring America to her knees. You did, Jimmy.

Mideast peace? The lone triumph of the abysmal Carter presidency looks stale indeed after 20-plus years of Egyptian totalitarianism and hate-mongering. Has that buy-off ($2 billion a year going to whichever dictator happens to be in charge in Cairo) resulted in peace or stability? All it’s bought is another two decades of status quo: short periods of ferocious fighting and terrorism interspersed with longer periods of lower-level fighting and terrorism. Was their any hope of a regional peace beyond a worn-out, bought-out Egyptian regime? Clearly not, as Hezbollah and the PLO attacked from their hideouts in Lebanon, supported by Syria and tacitly condoned by Jordan (scared to death of their own Palestinian population). You had to realize “land for peace” could go no further than Camp David, since the Syrians were more than willing to fund a proxy war through Lebanon and the Hashemites wanted no part of a “returned” West Bank. It all looks like a foolhardy, even cynical, policy in hindsight.

One item in Carter’s column rises above the level of merely foolish to that of frightening. He claims Saddam Hussein is no threat to America, and that before he could produce a nuclear weapon, he would have to “test” first. That is patently false, and in the case of Hussein, demonstrably false: Experts, even those opposed to war with Iraq, almost universally agree that Iraq’s engineers had overcome all design difficulties on a nuclear device years ago, and all that is needed for Saddam to have an operable weapon is the fissile material. In other words, the first “test” could be over Tel Aviv; or the U.S. air base in Ancilik, Turkey; or in New York harbor on board a ship registered to a non-aligned country but owned and controlled by Baghdad. Remember, Pakistan and India were declared nuclear powers for nearly 20 years before they ever tested; Israel is a nuclear power, it has never tested; North Korea probably has two or three nukes, and it has never tested. Carter’s argument would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous; people uneducated on proliferation might be duped by his claim.

I close here with a question, and a comment: With all the substantive arguments against Bush policy, and in particular war with Iraq, why would Carter offer such a specious, even sinister, statement about nuclear weapons?

And: Thank God Jimmy’s not president right now.

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