Scripps-Howard News Service 9.04.02
No sooner have calls demanding "Fairness to Saddam Hussein!"
died down than venerable veterans of American politics raised their
voices demanding justice for our allies.
Now, Brent Scowcroft, James Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger
may argue that their concern is about the danger they perceive,
should the United States go it alone in Iraq, and that persuading
our allies of the justness of our cause is something we owe to ourselves.
You be the judge.
Tim Russert of NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" invited the
honorable Lawrence Eagleburger opposite Senator Fred Thompson to
discuss "Iraq - yes or no?" this past Sunday. After strenuous
assurances that neither former president George H. W. Bush nor opinion-mates
Brent Scowcroft and James Baker III had participated in any formulation
of a joint approach, it was time to address the matter at hand.
First on the agenda was the frightening issue of reaction in neighboring
countries. Mr. Russert chose to bring up Egypt, Jordan and Saudi
Arabia. "There will be repercussions, of course," Mr.
Eagleburger warned us, but the conversation quickly shifted to SCUD
missiles Saddam Hussein, once attacked, was certain to lob into
So we were left to guess what Mr. Eagleburger had in mind. In the
case of Egypt there is, of course, the ever-present danger that
some of the billions of dollars we send as annual aid will be returned
to teach us a lesson. What do we do then?
Jordan is particularly sensitive. On the occasion of the last royal
visit from that land, Katie Couric of NBC-TV's "Today"
introduced their highnesses as the rulers of a country "America
needs desperately." I have had the nagging suspicion we were
desperate, just could not figure out the remedy. It seems Ms. Couric
had done just that. She knew exactly where help must be found and
if we mess up, we can't blame her.
That leaves Saudi Arabia. Here we might be in real trouble. It
is hard to imagine where all the highjackers of 9/11 could have
come from if the Saudis, generous as they are to a fault, would
not have provided 75% of the actual manpower and, probably, close
to 100% of the cash. All that might be lost in the future, should
we fail to heed Mr. Eagleburger's warning.
And thus, the question of our allies acquired exceptional importance
in the discussion.
Russia, China, the Europeans, we were told, all needed to be considered.
"But isn't it true," countered Tim Russert, "that
the Russians are supplying arms to Iraq, and the Chinese are sending
booster rockets along with all sorts of technology?"
"Well, really, I mean the British, the French, the Germans,"
explained Mr. Eagleburger. "Actually, the British are not the
problem," he corrected himself, "it's really the French
and the Germans."
"...and even the Italians," Mr. Eagleburger added as
Thank goodness, we have thus narrowed the field.
Let's see now.
Moving from back to front, I would not wish to contemplate life
without the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. And being
deprived of at least the theoretical possibility of revisiting Venice,
Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples would amount to capital punishment
for the eyes. And the Amalfi Coast - ah, the Amalfi Coast!
Yet, as regards military matters...
Legend has it that Hermann Goering burst into Adolf Hitler's study
one day. "Fuhrer," he exclaimed breathlessly, "the
Italians have entered the war." "Send thirty divisions,"
replied Hitler without looking up from his papers. "But Fuhrer,"
protested Goering, "they entered on our side!" Hitler
considered. "In that case send fifty."
One down, two to go.
As a pianist, I simply wouldn't know what to do without the music
of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms.
And I would not wish to contemplate our bookshelves if Johann Wolfgang
von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Thomas Mann were absent.
Yet somehow the descendants of the men who wrote the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution of the United States standing
by to await the verdict of the country that gave us the Communist
Manifesto and Mein Kampf isn't what the endless thousands of American
military graves lining Europe's Atlantic coast were all about.
That leaves France where, to be sure, most of those graves may
Mr. Eagleburger started out with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Russia,
China, and "our European allies." Now, even he might agree,
we were down to France.
The sizable wall map in our kitchen, depicting the various wine-growing
areas of France is indicative of the frequency with which my wife
and I contemplate our next visit to that magical land. While relishing
the ravishing light, the green, mirror-like rivers, the culinary
delights, we try not to think of the irreparable mess France has
made of Europe after World War I; the way they abandoned the British
Expeditionary Force to their certain destruction in World War II;
the manner in which they told NATO to get lost in the middle of
the Cold War; the openly anti-American direction of the European
Union under Franco-German leadership.
No, my wife and I perhaps can afford not to think about all that
while we savor our Crepe Suzette.
What I don't quite comprehend is how Messrs. Scowcroft, Baker and
Eagleburger can afford not to think about all that before they engage
in charting a course for our president, and for the American people.