Dispatches > The Buzz

Flashtraffic: Interview with Rush

What's next after Operation Iraqi Freedom? Talk radio's Rush Limbaugh shares his insights in this exclusive e-mail interview with WORLD.

Issue: "Staying underground," May 3, 2003

Excerpts- On where would the U.S. military go next- LIMBAUGH: Keeping in mind that it is of course arguable that there should be a "next" mission, it seems to me that defeating the world's terrorist networks is more than a just cause. It is imperative. The defeat of Iraq should be viewed as a continuum, begun in 1991 and concluded in 2003. But waiting 12 years for the next phase, in light of 9/11, and our current momentum, seems impractical and dangerous. The despair and incredulity of our stunned enemies-and make no mistake, they are our enemies-positions us well should we decide to capitalize on our victory in Iraq. Obvious targets are Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Iran could topple without our military involvement, so exempt it from the list. Syria not only has provoked with its Iraq partnership but it continues to provide a terrorist Disneyland that must eventually be dealt with. Diplomats, doctors, nurses, and clean water will not accomplish it. On whether Secretary of State Colin Powell should go to Syria- LIMBAUGH: Uh, no. How many visits to Damascus were made by Clinton-era secretaries of state? How much change was there as a result? We should in no way send Powell to Damascus with a "Don't worry, we aren't coming for you next" message unless it is intended to deceive-which I am fully in favor of, by the way. In my book, Syria has done absolutely nothing to deserve a visit, even from Bill Clinton ... er, let me rethink that one. In the meantime, Syria must earn such a visit and earn it two or three times before we go calling. On whether it will be a problem politically for President Bush if U.S. forces don't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq- LIMBAUGH: Not nearly as bad as some are hoping it will be-and not as bad as the usual pessimists predict. That Iraq was producing them is not a matter of debate in any circle of honest, responsible people. My fear is not political at all but practical. One of the troubling aspects of the 12-month run-up to the war was that it afforded the Saddam regime plenty of time to get them out of the country and into the hands of those who are capable of and likely to use them. I disagreed with the fatalistic prediction that Saddam would use such weapons on our invading forces. If you are Saddam and are planning a Clinton-like eternal legacy, what better way than to get those weapons in the hands of people who can use them over and over again in Saddam's memory? Sort of a Saddam "Forget Me Not," if you will. On what was most surprising, encouraging, and inspiring about Operation Iraqi Freedom- LIMBAUGH: What continually surprises me are those who predict defeat for our armed forces. We simply do not lose, yet the usual suspects were blathering about body bags, setbacks, ill-conceived plans, and quagmires. Many things encouraged and inspired me. The coordinated cooperation of the military branches was striking. The embedded reporters, many of whom hail from the elite universities and other similar institutions, actually saw in the American fighting forces, up-close and firsthand, the type of people who make this country work. There was a newfound respect and admiration for people formerly laughed at and impugned because of where they are from, how they speak, and how they worship. These embeds witnessed people in action who are willing to die for their country and formed a bond with them. As a result, the American military, and the American soldier more specifically, have a newfound and long overdue respect from a sector of the country that perhaps took them and their work for granted for way too long. And one more thing: Despite the permissive pop culture of American youth these days, the young men and women of the U.S. military clearly demonstrate that values such as discipline, honor, commitment, and responsibility can and do triumph over the seductive and alluring traps they see constantly. They are an inspiration, more so than even they will ever know. On why the ratings of the three major cable news networks increased by 300 percent or more, while ABC and CBS saw their ratings fall- LIMBAUGH: While this is indeed encouraging, don't get too excited and bury the conventional networks just yet. The fact remains that the three conventional networks still reach around 30 million people on a nightly basis while the sum total of the cable audience is in the neighborhood of 7 million. Still, the bottom line is a definite trend away from the conventional over-the-air networks, and their days of the liberal news and commentary monopoly are over. About this I am as optimistic as anything else right now and if you were in my shoes you would be, too. Back in 1992, for example, my radio show was it as far as opposition and national conservative media were concerned. Now look at it.

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