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February 22, 2002

Three black holes

President George W. Bush traveled to Asia this week, visiting Japan, South Korea, and Red China, and noting, “All three governments are lending their support in our war against terror. …[And I] thank them on behalf of a grateful nation, for their steady and strong support as this nation leads a coalition to defend freedom.” Japan may be experiencing mere economic discomforts and dislocations, but freedom is still threatened in large areas of that region.

At his last stop on the tour, Mr. Bush chose to concentrate on areas of agreement with the Chinese Communists and his best hopes for further agreements, saying, “I encourage China to be a force for peace among its neighbors. My government hopes that China will strongly oppose the proliferation of missile and other deadly technologies.” Mr. Bush reminded that no nation is “exempt from the demands of human dignity,” and he pointedly included mention of where freedom is lacking for the Chinese people, who “should be free to choose how they live, how they worship and how they work.”

Mr. Bush added: “For centuries, this country had a tradition of religious tolerance. My prayer is that all persecution will end, so that all in China are free to gather and worship as they wish. Faith points to a moral law beyond man’s law and calls us to duties higher than material gain. Freedom of religion is not something to be feared, it’s to be welcomed, because faith gives us a moral core and teaches us to hold ourselves to high standards, to love and to serve others, and to live responsible lives. America is a nation guided by faith.”

And President Bush peered into one dark hole of the “axis of evil” across the demilitarized zone separating our ally South Korea from Communist North Korea, saying similarly that “no nation should be a prison for its own people.” Repeating his characterization of North Korea as “evil,” Mr. Bush commented on its museum holding axes used to murder non-Communists, and its disordered priorities: “ Korean grandparents should be free to spend their final years with those they love. Korean children should never starve while a massive army is fed.”

In the second black hole of the “axis of evil,” Iran has continued meddling across the border in Afghanistan, attempting to destabilize the interim government before it can truly free the Afghan people. Intelligence reports count “scores” of infiltrators, including agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Iranian spy service, and Iranian special forces troops from the Revolutionary Guards Corps. One U.S. official described them thus: “They are armed to the teeth, and they have lots of money to buy people off.” Expect this dangerous situation to persist, as Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi disingenuously said, “We are determined to remain in Afghanistan as long as the government and the people want us to do so.” No wonder suspended bombing runs had to recommence over Afghanistan last weekend to protect our fighters! And little surprise, then, that interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai now asserts that the tourism minister murdered last week, Dr. Abdul Rahman, was in reality assassinated by opponents mingling with hajjis en route to Muslim pilgrim sites!

Similar destabilization moves have been undertaken against Pakistan, of course. We note with sadness confirmation that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been murdered by his kidnappers – as part of such actions. Pearl’s abductors have stated they killed him because he was a Jew and was pro-Israel. Our prayers go out to his wife, child, family and friends.

And rounding out the trio of the “axis of evil,” Saddam is next up. Asked Thursday about plans to “take out” any identified weapons of mass destruction facilities in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replied, “We certainly wouldn’t discuss it in a press conference.” As reported in The Federalist last week, and in the rest of the national media this week, “The Pentagon and CIA are currently filling in final mobilization details for an assault on Iraq using 225,000 U.S. troops. Battle orders could be issued within 60 days.”

Memo to Saddam: Since 1991, the “bunker busters” have gotten better and the “smart weapons” have gotten wiser – by several orders of magnitude.

Visiting the Olympics to encourage troops serving on the home front, Mr. Rumsfeld said, “I would not think that the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City would be characterized as the ending of having to invest in security, homeland security, or in the war on terrorism. This is an important world event. And you’re right, we have more people in Utah participating in this Joint Task Force Olympics and various aspects of it than we do in Afghanistan. And we have that because it’s such an important event and because we want to make sure it’s a safe event for the world.”

That said, we do seem to be doing well in rolling up incipient Jihadi terror plots in concert with our allies! Sources reported late Wednesday the Liberty Bell has been targeted, although “nonspecifically,” and moving terrorist cells were arrested in both Rome and Turkey this week – before they could hit.

But Team Bush conflicts, frictions between diplo-babblers favoring increased international security force arrangements in Afghanistan and warriors leaning more toward training up a real Afghan army, persist. Regarding the infighting between the Bush administration and Secretary of State Colin Powell, a few naïfs on your Editorial Board were hopeful the initial “disagreements” were part of a “good-cop/bad-cop” strategy. But Powell’s erupting embarrassments to the team, and especially his general failure to fall in line behind the Commander-in-Chief, now fall into the category of insubordination. Alas, your Editorial Board’s cynics were right in holding fast those “conservative ideas” Powell long ago forgot, including healthy skepticism about working with Leftists!

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