EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the November 21, 2005, issue of National Review.
Suppose a guy yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and the audience hisses back, “Shh! We’re in the middle of a play about how Bush engaged in a massive conspiracy to use a small chimney fire as a pretext for burning down some other theater three years ago.”
That’s pretty much what happened the other week. The president of Iran announced that Israel “must be wiped off the map”–and the entire capital city of the world’s hyperpower hissed back, “Shh! Patrick Fitzgerald’s about to indict Scooter Libby!” Insofar as I understand the Left’s three-year investment in Joseph C. Wilson IV, it’s that the selfless patriot exposed the Bush administration’s rationale for the war–Saddam’s WMD–as a lie cooked up by a cabal of sinister neocon warmongers (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc). Just for the record, WMD was never my rationale. As I’ve said on many occasions, when it comes to toppling dictators, there’s no such thing as an “illegitimate” rationale. In his obstruction of U.N. weapons inspectors, Saddam certainly acted as if he had WMD and, in his “trade” missions to Niger (principal exports: uranium, goats, cowpeas, and onions), as if he were eager to acquire more. There’s something to be said for taking a chap at his word.
Anyway, we now have a chance to go through the whole rigmarole with another four-letter Middle Eastern Muslim country beginning with the letters “I-r-a.” Same great runaround, new closing consonant. President Ahmadinejad made his wiping-off-the-map remarks during a conference called “A World Without Zionism,” so it seems unlikely this was one of those subtle nuances lost in translation. Furthermore, in the final round of last June’s presidential election, both candidates were eager to annihilate the Zionist Entity–Mr. Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Hashemi Rafsanjani, having declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” with “a single atomic bomb.” So wiping Israel off the map would appear to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus, as unexceptional as coming out in favor of motherhood and apple pie . . .