Monday, August 12, 2002

Thought of the Day: when to go to war?
Right now there's so much talk in the media about whether and when we're going to attack Iraq that Saddam Hussein may as well fire all his spies and get a subscription to The Washington Post. What was raised in a story meeting here this morning is, What is the tipping point that makes us go to war? What makes it OK, when is it agreed to be necessary, when do all but the pacifists (a noble breed, it should be noted) quiet down and march or cheer? The question is made all the more poignant by a stellar Time magazine cover piece on the pre-9/11 plans to attack al-Qaeda. Throughout, it seems leaders pocketed the plans as an effect of 1) labyrinthine Washington bureacracy and 2) the paralysis of public opinion--the country wouldn't have supported the messy business without more palpable cause, which September 11 horrifyingly provided.

Back to Iraq, which seems to have nothing to do with September 11 but is now public enemy number one. If we don't attack them and they nuke us or someone we like, will we have numerous more magazine stories on What We Should Have Done and Donald Rumsfeld wearing a T-shirt to press conferences that says I Told You So? On the other hand, if we go in there tomorrow, will we be just as predictably subjected to the scores of naysayers, the Congressional opponents sounding righteous and snide about a president's supposed hubris?

The Gulf War introduced a war fought on TV. This possible round two may be the first one planned on TV.
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