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What Would Margaret Thatcher Do?

Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM

This weekend, President Bush convened a war council at Camp David with his closest advisers to decide how the United States should respond to the attacks on New York and Washington.

As a believing Christian, the president may be wondering, "What would Jesus do?" The Bible has many lessons to teach us, and those who confuse Christianity with a doormat religion may soon be in for a surprise.

As President Bush ponders, I wonder if he recalls the moment 11 years ago when his father learned that Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. As it happened, at the time, his father, then president, was at a conference in Colorado, and as it also happened, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was at the same conference.

Saddam had just invaded Kuwait.

U.S. officials had been ambivalent and were thinking, "It's all right going in, but how are we going to get out?" They were getting estimates from the Pentagon on how many casualties to expect. They were wondering how they were going to explain going into Kuwait, which most people could barely find in an atlas.

He may also recall that, at the start, the senior President George Bush himself seemed unsteady and unsure as to the U.S. response, which was actually odd, given that he personally had a much closer relationship with Kuwait than is often realized. It was Zapata Oil of Texas that opened up and developed Kuwait's vast oil resources in the 1960s and early 1970s. And who was the president of Zapata Oil? None other than George H.W. Bush, himself.

At that moment, Margaret Thatcher stepped up to the microphone and, in words that were to become legendary, said: "Look, George, this is no time to go wobbly. We can't fall at the first fence."

Lady Thatcher later explained: "The first time you actually go to the use of force is quite a decision for the person who has to authorize it. And so you do tend to say, 'Well, look let's just see if there's anything else we can do.'

"And so this was the reason why I said, 'Look, George, this is no time to go wobbly, we'll do it this time, but we can't fall at the first fence.'

"You see if [the Iraqis] thought they were cracking our resolve and will, then the first crack can become a bigger crack.

"And if you're not careful, you don't do the job you set out to do, which is to free the land of Kuwait, the land and the people.

"In fact you encourage an aggressor to go further, happy in the knowledge that the West wouldn't have the leadership or the guts to tackle him. We had both."

So as President George W. Bush and his advisers powwow, they may also care to ponder: "What would Margaret Thatcher do?" For the price of a short phone call, which may indeed already have been made, they could find out.

At the time of the Kuwait invasion, Margaret Thatcher laid out three objectives for dealing with an aggressor:

In the present case, it is not possible to undo the damage, although the owners of the World Trade Center say they plan to rebuild, and the Pentagon will certainly be restored.

The thousands of lost lives will, sadly, remain lost. And the American public has not yet been told the true numbers.

Thousands of lives have been irreversibly changed. Thousands have been widowed and orphaned and otherwise bereaved, and we – American society – must care for them as we care for our own families.

As for her second piece of advice, when we are able to narrow down the perpetrators, it may be possible to obtain some financial compensation from the nations involved, and payments could come in the form of oil.

There is also a strong case for the United States and its allies to take control of the Middle East oil fields from the group of fundamentally undemocratic, semi-civilized nations that control them.

While we're at it, we need to end the Palestinian myth. There is no such place as Palestine. There are no such people as Palestinians. They are displaced Jordanians, and it's about time someone had the courage to say so.

The United States needs to help secure Israel's border along the River Jordan, and speedily send Yasser Arafat and his terrorists who blow up women and children into the eternity they so richly deserve.

And as a final point, this is the perfect moment for President Bush to get his Alaskan oil-drilling proposal through both houses of Congress.

Margaret Thatcher's third point is probably the focus of President Bush's current deliberations: to ensure that terrorists are never again in a position to threaten anyone.

This will mean an all-out assault on a number of nations.

A few days ago, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said, "It's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, and ending states who sponsor terrorism.''

Ending states means exactly that. Ending the regime. Bringing them down. Using powerful force that has not been used since World War II.

And if we can get the rest of the world on board, as Margaret Thatcher did in 1982 against Argentina, so much the better. So far, President Bush has secured the cooperation of Europe, Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan – which leaves Afghanistan and Iraq pretty much surrounded.

Communist China will also need to be told in no uncertain terms that it needs to stop supplying weapons to rogue states, and at some point the People's Republic of China may be in need of sanctions to encourage them to step up to internationally accepted standards of civilized behavior.

In October 1999, I wrote in my column: "There's a final reason why George W. Bush shouldn't go wobbly. The purveyors of the New World Order seem to have forgotten that Christians are no longer willing to be insulted, marginalized and degraded, and have at their disposal a weapon far more powerful than anything they can produce: humble, sincere prayer.

"The only thing that puzzles me is why we don't use it more often. It's time to stop being nice to Satan and his disciples "because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

Margaret Thatcher would tell President George W. Bush to be completely battle-ready with specific objectives in mind. She would say that her original three points are the best place to start. The United States and its allies must be battle-ready, militarily, morally and spiritually.

As the apostle Paul wrote: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4)

As President Bush said Friday in Washington's National Cathedral: "This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing. Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil."

Such a conclusion to this event would indeed be a worldwide service. It will certainly have the blessing of Lady Thatcher, and of the whole of the civilized world.

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This weekend, President Bush convened a war council at Camp David with his closest advisers to decide how the United States should respond to the attacks on New York and Washington. As a believing Christian, the president may be wondering, What would Jesus do? The Bible...
Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM
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