We act as if the world has scored a great victory over Saddam Hussein in the Battle of the Baghdad Parking Lot. All we gained was possession of files that show our C.I.A. and media underestimated Iraq's nuclear buildup.
That will enable some of us to issue I-told-you-so whoops, but will do little to curb the comeback of Saddam Hussein. Only the ouster of his regime will do that, and file-cabinet triumphs oust no dictators.
Meanwhile, his political success has gone unremarked: he is insuring his survival by splitting his Kurdish opposition, but the Bush Administration doesn't seem to care.
If our policy is to force Saddam and his Sunni military clique out, and to replace that repressive regime with a rudimentary democracy of varied cultures within present borders, the Kurds are the key. United, they stand as the nucleus of a national opposition; divided, all hopes fall for internal overthrow of the dictator.
Because of U.S. passivity, they are dividing. The other day in Halabja, site of the poison-gassing we ignored three years ago, Massoud Barzani told his people to "be realistic" and make a separate peace with Saddam Hussein, getting whatever autonomy was being offered.
At that very moment, a delegation of Kurdish leaders including Jalal Talabani, Barzani's rival, was in Washington hoping to be received by the President or Secretary of State, as it had by Prime Minister Major of Britain and Foreign Minister Genscher of Germany.
Such an event would affirm the U.S. commitment to helping Iraqis turn out Saddam and his gang; it would signal Mr. Barzani that cutting a deal with Baghdad would be a mistake.
Instead, the visiting Kurds were told to meet with John Kelly, for years Saddam Hussein's man at the State Department, now being warehoused as Ambassador to Limbo. When they balked at this insult, they were allowed to see Assistant Secretary Edward Djerejian on his first day at the Middle East bureau.
Our diplomat reminded the Kurds...