President Bush sticks to his guns — and to his subject

This National Review Online symposium on President Bush’s address presents the view of Frank Gaffney, Nicholas Gvosdev, and Michael Ledeen. None of the three found much to dislike in the president’s address, nor did I. Ledeen believes that we may well find ourselves in a regional war with the likes of Syria and Iran, and wishes that Bush had alluded to this prospect. Since I consider such a conflict unlikely in the near term, I think it would have been a mistake for Bush to have mentioned it. Unlike Ledeen, I also think it would have been a mistake to talk about North Korea. The Hermit Kingdom deserves its own separate addrress, once Bush figures out what to say about it.
Gvosdev was struck by the fact that Bush didn’t mention the precedent of Kosovo for this sort of military action. But citing such precedent would have been unduly defensive, in my opinion, and I’m glad that Bush didn’t bother doing so. Gvosdev is also concerned about obtaining future cooperation from France, Germany, and Russia in the war against international terrorism. In the past, I have not been too worried about this, since these nations are also the targets of terrorism, and thus have an interest in cooperating with us. However, by taking such an aggressive stance against attacking Iraq, France, Germany, and Russia may now have successfully differentiated themselves from the U.S. in the minds of major terrorist players. Thus, we may indeed receive less cooperation from these countries. I hope that our success in Iraq will give us the leverage we need to prevent such a such a result, but that remains to be seen.