My apologies for the

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May 3, 2002 7:01 p.m.

My apologies for the relative paucity of posts of late. I’m knee deep in a big reporting piece and I barely get a chance to read the papers, let alone mouth off on TPM about what I read.

In any case, more soon.

A few things to look at. President Bush is resisting making any condemnatory statement about French neo-fascist presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, which strikes me as a bit weird. There’s always the issue of not meddling in another country’s internal affairs. But pretty much every other world leader has spoken out. For the Europeans there is a slight sense that the EU makes this a bit different, almost a domestic issue. Still, what’s the problem with a mild statement of condemnation from Bush?

Another interesting thing. Yesterday I was at an Iraq panel at the Council on Foreign Relations and one of the panelists was Khidr Hamzah, the former head of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program and the author of a new book called Saddam’s Bombmaker: The Daring Escape of the Man Who Built Iraq’s Secret Weapon.

Anyway, here’s one thing he said on the panel that caught my attention:

Suppose the Iraqi opposition came and took over? Why would they drop this huge [Weapons of Mass Destruction] infrastructure that’s built inside Iraq which is power in the region? Would they drop it? Now it’s coming out now with the new posture of the US which is dropping the Iraqi opposition as an option or as an instrument of toppling Saddam that probably the US doesn’t believe the Iraqi opposition will abandon its nuclear or other weapons program …

[Here Hamzah says US policy will be more like the occupation and democratization of Japan and Germany after World War II.]

Now many people now in the Iraqi opposition believe that this is the scenario now. That the US probably does not want the Iraqi opposition not because it is not viable, as they say, not because it is weak and frightened — so was the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan — no, because there is no belief that the inheritance, this is a huge inheritance, that will be taken over by the next government will be disbanded. And the only way to make sure is to take it over and disband it themselves.

That caught my attention.

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