January 26, 2004

Interview with David Frum

Last week, John Hawkins interviewed economist Thomas Sowell and asked him ten questions (blogged here) This week, he talks with David Frum - co-author with Richard Perle of the new book: "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror": Here are some excerpts from the interview: bq. David Frum: The idea that overthrowing Saddam Hussein sprung out of the minds of a few people in Washington forgets an awful lot of history. In the 2000 election, both candidates spoke openly about the need to deal with Saddam Hussein. Al Gore was actually more emphatic on the topic than George Bush was. In 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. Just to show how conspiratorial they were, they put it in the Congressional record. In 1995, the CIA tried to organize a coup against Saddam Hussein and it failed. The coup was secret, but it has been written about in 5 or 6 books that I know of. In 1991, representatives of President George H. W. Bush went on the radio and urged the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam Hussein. So America's policy on Saddam has been consistent. What we have been arguing about for years are the methods. First, we tried to encourage a rebellion in Iraq, that didn't work. Then we tried coups, that didn't work. Then in 1998, we tried funding Iraqi opposition. That might have worked, but the money never actually got appropriated. Then, ultimately we tried direct military power. The idea that Saddam should go has been the policy of the United States since 1991. And more: bq. John Hawkins: What do you say to people who believe that terrorist groups with global reach like Hizbollah aren't a threat to us? bq. David Frum: Hizbollah killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s and in 1994 blew up the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which was the deadliest foreign terrorist attack in this hemisphere until 9/11. But, also since it was sponsored by Iran, it was a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. We waged a forty year cold war against Castro for less than that. bq. John Hawkins: Here's another question along those same lines: What do you say to people who claim that containment was working with Iraq and that we should stick with containment in dealing with other terrorist supporting states? bq. David Frum: In the case of Iraq, containment was visibly crumbling. The Iraqis had successfully forced the inspectors out of Iraq in 1998 and the sanctions were crumbling. The Iraqis did agree to readmit the inspectors in 2002, but that was clearly going to be true only so long as there were American troops on their borders. Realism tells you that this policy had no future. Many of the most prominent people who advocate containment had been in the nineties advocating the undoing of sanctions. So they're advocating a policy that they themselves wanted to see the end of. And more: bq. John Hawkins: Well let me ask, like you say, it's not likely that we're going to see a Democratic Palestine form in the near future. I don't see the (Palestinian government) shutting down Hamas (anytime soon) either. So how do you think we should handle this over the next few years since we're not going to see the conditions for a Democratic state form (there)? bq. David Frum: Over the very short run, over the next few months, we have to make the Palestinians aware of what is available to them under the right circumstances. "Here's what you can have if you decide you want it". I think President Bush has done exactly the right thing. bq. John Hawkins: So should we stand off and let the Israelis wall them off and wait for conditions to get right there? bq. David Frum: The United States does have to make sure that Israel does not use excessive methods. There are people in the Israeli government who would use excessive methods and the United States government has an interest in curbing them. Just recently, the Israelis announced the route of the wall would change. I assume that's a response to American pressure. bq. The most important thing that the United States can do is to just reiterate that the Palestinians could have a guarantee of a state within 18-24 months, tomorrow, if they want it, and here's what they must do. Just reiterate that and make it clear that it's the Palestinians choice, they can have what they want, but they have to meet certain conditions. Read the whole thing - it's good... Posted by DaveH at January 26, 2004 11:32 AM