The Political Establishment in Denial
Jude Wanniski
May 20, 2002


Memo To: Mary Matalin, Advisor to VP Dick Cheney
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Anticipating 9-11

I’m sending this to you, Mary, as I believe my last few memos to the Vice President have not been getting through to him. Twice I’ve advised him that Iraq DID NOT kick the U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq. The UNSCOM inspectors left when they could not find anything and knew the USAirForce was about to start bombing again. I’m afraid he is not being briefed adequately, and as his closest political advisor, you should be concerned when he is misinformed. After all, the big whoop in Washington these last few days has been about how much the White House knew prior to 9-11 about the likelihood there would be terrorist acts directed against the United States by Al Qaeda. Now it turns out that almost everyone around the President knew there was going to be an attack, but nobody knew what to do about it. Once again, the VP says he is almost certain there is going to be another attack one of these days, and again nobody knows what to do about it.

Why don’t you ask him, Mary, to shift gears and start thinking about WHY the a group of Muslim guys are now scheming to do a repeat of 9-11? All weekend long, through his two interviews and the dozen other interviews I watched, never once did anyone wonder out loud why they would do such a terrible thing. If we cannot do any better than warn the American people to keep their eyes peeled for something unusual to report to authorities, we are at their mercy. Would you believe that the motivation has something to do with our unquestioning support of Israel over the past three or four decades? Twice in 1998 I posted memos here warning that unless we paid attention to why the Muslim Militants bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, they would be back to bring down the two buildings! The first time I posted was in January, the second time in December of ‘98, when I noted: [This is a memo on the margin that ran in this space January 13, 1998. Given news accounts that Osama Bin Laden now is thinking about doing something in a major U.S. city -- New York or Washington, D.C., we again should be thinking about the workings of the mind of a terrorist.]

No kidding. There were news accounts in December 1998 that Osama was cooking something up. How come nobody else “connected the dots” the way I did? It wasn’t rocket science, especially if you read the statement of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef as it appeared in the New York Times the day after he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 bombing. The reason is that it is politically incorrect for anyone to put Israel in the equation. (Or the Anti-Defamation League will label you anti-Semitic.) Our Political Establishment, including our press corps, is in denial. Yousef particularly mentioned our treatment of Iraq since the Gulf War. Our Political Establishment may not think we had anything to do with the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqi civilians, but the Islamic world believes we were in the driver’s seat all the way, purposely weakening Iraq to keep it from becoming any kind of threat to Israel – after using Iraq to weaken the Iranian fundamentalists with an 8-year-war. If you don’t help your boss connect those dots, Mary, he will continue to issue administration threats of resumed military action against the Baghdad regime. Yes, he and the President promise that after a short little war to eliminate Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq will dance in the streets. The estimates I see of maybe 30,000 Iraqi casualties – and maybe 2000 of our troops – in what some say will be a “cakewalk,” do not take into account the U.S. civilian casualties here at home when the Muslim Militants get busy blowing up this building here, this airport there, the national economy thrown in for good measure.

Now don’t get me wrong, Mary. I’m not saying we can stop the terrorists by an embrace of Saddam Hussein and a kick in the pants to Ariel Sharon. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that we have been helping Israel put off the Palestinians in one way or another, going back to 1948, and their Islamic and Arabic supporters are no longer going to conveniently fragment to make that possible. When the Arab League voted unanimously to support each other if any one of them is attacked, including Iraq, this was something we better take seriously. Did you read the letter Minister Louis Farrakhan sent President Bush after 9-11, offering to help him understand the Islamic world? He pointed out that no single Islamic leader could call for a Jihad, a holy war. They would have to be unanimous in their support for such a war, and that President Bush has it in his power to do that – by giving them cause to unite against the West. The fact our President has committed himself to a Palestinian state and presents our government as an honest broker is the best guarantee against another attack. If we allow the opponents of a Palestinian to dance us around, we have to expect hostility from the Islamic world. They might not formally declare war, but you can bet your boots their people of the Arab/Islamic world would find a way to make life miserable for Americans. And there would be nothing we could do about it.

Here is the link to my December 1998 memo, Mary. I sent it to Sen. Jesse Helms when he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, hoping he would hold hearings on “The Mind of a Terrorist.” No dice. What I would hope from you, Mary, is that you would persuade him to become better informed on what is going on in the world. He can get briefings day and night from Condi Rice and Scooter Libby and Don Rumsfeld, but if he can’t connect the dots, we are all in for more trouble than we have had so far.