The Blog


12:00 AM, Oct 7, 1996 • By MICHAEL LEDEEN
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Chalabi responded as he had for more than a year, reminding Washington that such efforts would require money and military supplies. The Iraqi National Congress would need about $ 4 million to do the job. The Americans on the scene agreed and promised the money, but for many months they brought only more promises, not the funding. Finally, a high-level meeting was convened at the American Embassy in London at the end of August between Kurdish leaders, Chalabi, British and American diplomats, and Turkish officials. On August 30, they reached general agreement on a continuation of the ceasefire, terms of reference for a Chalabi-led peacekeeping force, and future talks to institutionalize the arrangements. In the midst of the negotiations, Chalabi was called to the phone, where his people on the ground informed him that the Iraqi invasion was beginning. He passed on the information, and the talks were abruptly terminated.

The Jordanians, who recently supported a tough anti-Saddam line, are now openly calling for the United States to reach a modus vivendi with him. The Turks -- who had made it clear they were ready to let us use their military airfields to stage a serious attack against the Iraqi invaders -- now speak contemptuously of our regional policies. The Kuwaitis -- who, along with the Saudis, bear the financial costs of all our military operations with regard to Iraq -- let us send soldiers only when we had announced there was no intention to use them directly against Saddam. The Clinton administration is claiming that the Barzani-led Kurds -- the ones who invited Saddam to invade - - are now coming to us for assistance, but the truth is that they have issued an ultimatum to us: Either provide real support or leave us alone. And thus matters stand.

America's humiliation at the Bay of Pigs encouraged Castro and his Soviet backers to install missiles in Cuba, bringing international tensions to their highest point in decades. There is, blessedly, no Soviet empire to exploit Clinton's humiliation in Iraq, and our risk is not nearly so grave as it was 35 years ago. But there will be a price to pay. We can be sure that the wicked sponsors of anti-Western terrorism are even now preparing their next assaults, and we can be equally certain that we will find fewer brave men and women prepared to warn us, and to help us thwart these evil designs.

Michael A. Ledeen holds the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.