Trigger-Happy in Iraq
Jude Wanniski
September 11, 1996


Memo To: Sen. Phil Gramm
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Iraq & National security

I send along a little piece that just appeared in the September 16 issue of New Yorker by Michael Kelly, one of the best journalists in the country, who in November will become editor of The New Republic. Kelly sees that the bombing of Iraq was not something we should be celebrating. He calls it "Iraq Ad Hoc." The fact that Saddam Hussein has a bad reputation and political body odor should not make a difference, it is not something we should have done. I think it was the most irresponsible U.S. military action in modern times. Why? Because it was done precipitously, which is what Jack Kemp said about it last week in Atlanta. The idea that an American President can order bombs dropped on a foreign country without consulting anyone, except perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt via Hillary, is so astounding that it seems to have left the whole world speechless. Clinton did not consult you or Trent Lott or Newt or Sam Nunn or Lee Hamilton or John Major or Helmut Kohl or Boris Yeltsin or Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or anyone else. Bombs away.

We should not really ask Dole to do the heavy lifting here, which is why I called Dick Ribbentrop to see if you would activate your flamethrower on behalf of the U.S. Constitution. Can you imagine anyone in,tthe world coming to Clinton's defense at this point if you were to tear him apart for a unilateral bombing campaign. This is not about Iraq. It is about the conduct of foreign policy by the world's only superpower. I wrote a note to Sam Nunn yesterday asking him if he didn't feel a little queasy about our Commander-in-chief dropping bombs on a sovereign country with whom we are at peace, before his breakfast, without so much as a howdy-do to the congressional leaders of either party. It could get to be a bad habit, wouldn't you say?

The reason 67% of the American people support the action is that nobody they respect has raised a-finger against it. Dole said it was premature, before Clinton pulled the trigger, in the sense that he didn't know what the hell was going on and wanted some facts before he acted. Afterward, his consultants and their focus groups told him to salute, and he did along with everyone else. This is really a job for Supergramm. I told Ribbentrop I said during the campaign last year that if I were asked to name a political all-star football team, I would name Phil Gramm for all eleven spots on the defensive unit. I urge you, I beg you, in the name of our Founding Fathers, to tackle King Clinton before he bombs again.