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Ringing in 2004 with orange

By Jackson Murphy
web posted December 22, 2003

See I told you so. That will be the Howard Dean talking point after America increases their threat level from yellow to orange. After Saddam was captured last week Dean was quick to proclaim that it had "not made America safer." Time will tell, but it certainly didn't hurt, Governor.

Gadhafi showing some sense
Gadhafi showing some sense

On the heals of the Saddam capture another long standing rogue leader decided he didn't want to be found by the 4th Infantry Division hiding in a spider hole and has agreed to full weapons inspections. It's difficult to say how much the two events are related, but Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi has made the choice that, hopefully, will soon come to many nations in the region.

Remarkably this diplomatic coup came from the same unilateral cowboy administration that brought us the war in Iraq. How could this be? The "miserable failure" in all things diplomatic has managed a couple of choice notes lately. Wasn't the war in Iraq, like almost everything we do there, supposed to destabilize the region and make things worse? Don't they hate America more now? When even some Times editorial writers are giving Bush props for the Libya diplomatic deal something is going on.

The New York Times suggests the Libya disarmament news is a victory for diplomacy. "In that sense, yesterday's announcement also demonstrates the value of diplomacy and United Nations sanctions as a tool against weapons proliferation. Combating current proliferation dangers in North Korea and Iran, and future threats elsewhere, will require a deft combination of approaches. Ideally, as in the case of Libya, solutions will be reached well short of war."

Whether the Libya news was from the carrot or the potential stick is not yet known. It was probably a combination of the two, and the liberal (pardon the pun) use of the stick in Iraq probably made the carrot look pretty good to our old buddy Gadhafi.

The fact that these two huge events happened in the same week and the terror threat level still has to be raised goes to show just how big an undertaking this war on terror is. It is bigger than one nation agreeing to give up weapons of mass destruction and it is certainly bigger than the capture of one man.

But the capture of Saddam Hussein and the laying down of Libya's weapons are victories in the ongoing war against terrorism and proof that it is working. This is not to say that the world is any less dangerous than it was on September 10th 2001, but it certainly is getting better. National Review's John Derbyshire writes, "3/4 of the way through his first administration, George W. Bush has put two dictators out of business and, without firing a shot, persuaded a third to dismantle his WMD."

Military writer Austin Bay adds that the capture of Saddam could have a huge spiraling impact on the region. "Every Middle Eastern autocrat saw the haggard Saddam pulled from the hole. The message: America means to see this war through."

Thus it shouldn't be surprising that in the wake of two such victories the other side is going to try their best to counterattack. And as Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge suggests, "Information indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will rival or exceed the scope and impact of those we experienced in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania more than two years ago."

Getting back to Gov. Dean for a minute, the alternative he proposes wouldn't do anything to make America much safer either. A Washington Post editorial describes the Dean foreign policy alternative this way: "It is his apparent readiness to shrink U.S. ambitions, in Iraq and elsewhere, at a time when the safety of Americans is very much at stake."

It is possible for American and the coalition to round up Saddam, pacify Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya and still have Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria as major problems and breeding grounds for terror and hate. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't feel marginally safer with Saddam in the slammer and Muammar without weapons. We should.

2003 has been another year rolling back fundamentalist Islam and the terror masters. But 2004 needs to be another big year in this war as many leaders and terrorists in the region should get more than just a lump of coal in their stockings this week.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is a senior writer at Enter Stage Right, a columnist for Bureacrash.ca and a regular contributor to American Daily.com, Men's News Daily, and The Reality Check. He is also the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7.

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