Charles Krauthammer

Mr. President, the window has closed. Diplomatically, we are today back where we were before Sept. 12, with America and its ``coalition of the willing." That's enough. And in any case that is all you are going to get.

Why are we dallying and deferring at the U.N.? In your news conference last week, you said you were going to have people put their cards on the table. I thought it a lousy idea to call a vote we were sure to lose. But having made your decision, you are making it worse by waffling. The world knows you as a cards-on-the-table man. Now you're asking for an extension of time and a reshuffle of the deck.

If, for Blair's sake, you must have a second resolution, why include an ultimatum that Blix will obfuscate and the French will veto? If you must have a second resolution, it should consist of a single sentence: ``The Security Council finds Iraq in violation of Resolution 1441, which demanded `full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions.'''

The resolution should be a statement not of policy but of fact. The fact is undeniable. You invite the French to cast what will be seen around the world as the most cynical veto in the history of the council, which is saying a lot. They may cast it. They are French. But then they--not you--will have to do the explaining for perpetrating such an obvious lie.

That's all you need. No need for elaborate compromises, stretching the timetable, or a tortuous checklist for Saddam to dance around. One sentence. One line. Cards on the table.

No more dithering. Every day you wait is an advertisement of hesitation and apprehension. If the one-line resolution passes, violation triggers 1441, which triggers the original resolutions ending the Gulf War. If it fails, you've exposed the U.N. for what it is: the League of Nations, empty, cynical and mendacious. Mr. President, call the vote and walk away.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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