And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Predictions Worth Peanuts?
Former President Carter has weighed in on a possible war with Iraq, warning in Atlanta yesterday that it would be riskier than 11 years ago because we would have to fight in the streets of Baghdad to get Saddam and "the costs would be enormous." But Carter also had dire warnings before the Gulf War in 1991, when he first called it a mistake to send U.S. troops to the Mideast after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Later, he criticized the further United States buildup, saying it would lead to a "massive, self-destructive almost suicidal war" that would cause Iraqi casualties the Arab world would never forgive and could increase the price of oil to $75 to $80 a barrel. When none of that happened, and Iraq had been driven out of Kuwait, Carter called the war "a tragedy."
Quieter Tone This Time
One senator who voted against that war, Minnesota liberal Democrat Paul Wellstone, also predicted terrible things, including the loss of thousands of American lives, a divided U.S. public, the breakdown of the U.S. economy and an inflamed Mideast that would trigger an invasion of Israel. None of that happened but, unlike Carter, Wellstone has fallen all but silent on Iraq this time. The St. Paul Pioneer Press says Wellstone has warned against a "go-it-alone policy" and urged the United States to "unite the world against Saddam." But the paper says he's otherwise been so quiet on the issue that disappointed anti-war protesters staged a sit-in at his office in St. Paul this week.
And speaking of anti-war Democrats, Barbra Streisand, who is appearing at a Democratic fund-raiser with House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt this weekend, is demanding that Democrats, "get off the defensive and go on the offensive." Saddam Hussein, she says in a fax to Gephardt, "did not bomb the World Trade Center." She says the Bush administration is under the influence of special interest, including the chemical, oil, mining and auto industries, who, she says, have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq. Gephardt's communications director Erik Smith responded to the Streisand fax, "We take advice from many people. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."
Protesting Classes for Social Purposes
Meanwhile, in England, a university campus that was a fount of protest in the 1970s and 1980s has erupted in dissent again. The London Telegraph reports that 1000 students at East Anglia University have signed a petition to the school administration. And the subject? Iraq? No, an anti-Iraq war petition only got 200 signatures. The one with 1,000 was the school's decision to start classes during freshman week, which the protesters say should be set aside for settling in and socializing. The college's Cocktail and Pub Crawl Societies were strongly supporting the measure.