The Committee on the Present Confusion

With full-page ads in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Washington Times trumpeting its slide down the spillways, The Committee on the Present Danger has been relaunched.

The 1970s committee of Republican hawks and neoconservatives denounced détente and called for clarity, courage and perseverance in the Cold War against a Soviet empire that had overrun Southeast Asia and was on the march in Africa and close to strategic superiority.

The declaration of principles and purposes of the new committee, however, help explains why support for Bush’s war is crumbling. It is pure mush. It reads like the final communique, negotiated in some all-night session of deputies, of a contentious meeting of the G-8.

“America faces its greatest threat in a generation,” declares CPD. “An organized global movement – assisted by rogue regimes – has adopted mass terror as a weapon to achieve political goals.”

OK, fine. But nowhere is this “organized global movement” even named. If it is al-Qaeda, why not say so? But if it is al-Qaeda, it is hard to think of any regime, rogue or not, that supports it. Even the Iranians, whose diplomats were murdered by the Taliban, helped us finish them off. Who, then, are the rogue regimes? And what are the “political goals” this “global movement” hopes to achieve?

Of late, al-Qaeda has been targeting the Saudis. Perhaps CPD did not wish to name this political goal of the terrorists, because so many of the neocon signers of the CPD ad share a similar desire to see the Saudi monarchy dumped over.

“We are joined together,” the ad declares, “by the recognition that no accommodation can be made with terrorists…”

But terrorism is a tactic, a weapon used in wars of liberation by the IRA, the Irgun, the Stern Gang, the Mau Mau, the Algerian FLN, the Viet Cong, the ANC and a dozen other movements. Not only have we made accommodations with the regimes that came out of these movements, we are giving most of them foreign aid. And some of the ex-terrorists, like Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela, have gotten Nobel Peace Prizes.

One imagines most signers of the CPD declaration would consider Arafat a terrorist. But not only does Yasser share a Nobel Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, he was handed Hebron by Benjamin Netanyahu and offered 95 percent of the West Bank and co-tenancy of Jerusalem by Ehud Barak. Can it be that four Israeli prime ministers have engaged in accommodation with terrorists?

Was FDR wrong to accommodate Stalin to defeat Hitler? Was Nixon wrong to go to Beijing and accommodate Mao Tse-tung in the Shanghai Communique? Were not Stalin and Mao two of the greatest terrorists of the 20th century?

Bush’s father made an accommodation with Hafez al Assad, who had slaughtered thousands of Muslims in Hama, for help in ousting Saddam from Kuwait. Was he wrong to do so? In ousting the Taliban, George W. Bush enlisted a Northern Alliance of warlords whose hands were soaked in blood. Was he wrong to do so?

“No accommodation can be made with terrorists …”

OK. Why, then, does CPD not denounce Bush for trumpeting his deal with Muammar Gaddafi and letting this instigator of the Berlin discotheque bombing and Lockerbie massacre out of the sanctions box? Is President Bush not accommodating a terrorist in return for his surrender of WMD?

The new CPD calls for “strategic clarity” and for “educating the American people on the nature of the danger.” But what CPD is offering is none of the clarity of the Cold War, nor any of the passionate certitude of “Remember Peal Harbor!”

The closest it comes to educating us about the enemy we face is this line: “Victory over terror inspired by radical Islamists – fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere – will also be a long struggle.”

But Saddam Hussein was “not inspired by radical Islamists.” He was a secular despot. He despised Islamists. He fought an eight-year war with the leading Islamist state, Iran. And why is there not a single mention of Israel and Hamas in the entire ad? Is this the dog that didn’t bark?

Something is fishy here. While that CPD ad has 40 signers, only three are big name Republicans: Sen. John Kyl, Jack Kemp and Ed Meese. The rest of the list reads like the head table at the annual American Enterprise Institute dinner. Yet, Pete Hannaford, a former Reagan aide, told the Post he put this all together after talking with a “variety of friends.”

No way. This is a front group. Somebody had to pony up the hundreds of thousands of bucks to pay for these ads. Who’s behind it?

Says the Post, “Initial costs have been made from a grant from two businessmen whom he (Hannaford) declined to identify…”

Now we’re getting somewhere. As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money!”

Author: Patrick J. Buchanan

Patrick Buchanan is the author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War."