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Volume 68, Issue 1, Date


Between Iraq and a hard place

Mason H. Lerner
Opinion Columnist

Imagine waking up and picking up your newspaper from the doorstep only to find each headline is scarier than the one before it.

What if the first headline told you that Saddam Hussein had imminent plans to attack your country, possibly with biological weapons, in a U.S. attack against Iraq? Would you be worried then? What if the next headline told you that you had even bigger problems? How would that make you feel?

Well, that's what happened to each and every Israeli when they picked up their copy of their newspaper, Haaretz, on Wednesday morning.

The paper informed Israelis that former U.N. chief weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, said they are in jeopardy if the United States attacks Saddam. The next article puts that into perspective when Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon assures everyone the threat is not nearly as bad as the immediate threat of the current Intifada.

All that before your morning cup of joe. That's what it means to truly live between a rock and a hard place. Luckily, there is something the United States has now proven it can do about it.

This week President Bush walked into the United Nations like a high school football coach walking into a locker room full of his players laughing at him behind his back. As soon as he took the podium, suddenly it seemed like everybody remembered who the leader of the free world really was again. Bush stared down the world like an angry coach, prodding and motivating the United Nations by challenging it to be relevant instead of merely a "debating society," forcing many of his critics to follow his lead against Iraq.

Meanwhile, the relative quiet on the Israeli/Palestinian front was interrupted Wednesday by the first suicide bomber since Aug. 4. Although this was just another blip on the radar of the War on Terror, it was a reminder that we must now declare our position to the United Nations on a problem the entire world has let spin out of control: suicide bombing. If we don't, it will spread across the globe like a cancer.

We must understand Israel is being used as a guinea pig by fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations. If we allow them to gain anything through the use of the suicide bomber the tactic will be used again and again the world over. Conversely, if Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad are defeated, the formula can be duplicated on a global scale to thwart the likes of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

The way to defeat these terrorists is not by force alone. Force is unfortunately a bandage that only stops the bleeding, while allowing occasional hemorrhaging and is, at best, a temporary solution. We have already let the hydra grow too many heads. On the other hand, force tempered with singleminded diplomacy could squash the phenomena once and for all. In doing so, the people of Israel could rest easier at night, and the Palestinians would likely soon have a state.

Bush did a great job mobilizing the United Nations to action with his last speech. It is already time for the encore. 

Our Commander in Chief needs to address the United Nations again with the same determination and spell out for them why suicide bombing must not be tolerated if the United Nations is to be an effective organization.

States such as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq must be made to feel isolated by the international community until they stop supporting and encouraging the use of suicide bombers. If they do not, it should be implied that there would be military consequences.

We must stop this problem now, or someday you will pick up your morning paper and read about a suicide bombing somewhere near you, and it will be just another blip on the War on Terror's radar. 

Hope you enjoy your coffee.

Lerner, a senior communication major, 
can be reached via


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