Allowing an almost entirely disgraced entity one last chance for redemption, President Bush Thursday extended a final opportunity to salvage what is left of what used to be an American ally: the United Nations Security Council. By insisting on a vote on a follow-up resolution, Bush is, in his own words, forcing the other members of the council to “show their cards.” For those who side with Saddam, there will be no hiding from history.
Several countries—under political cover provided by France and Germany—are now getting cold feet, but inaction is the easy way out. Saddam Hussein is not truly disarming—nor will he ever—and lest there be any doubts, the period just before the Gulf War should serve as a powerful reminder of how he operates. Saddam steadfastly refused to back down from his militaristic posturing, but when the writing appeared on the wall, he began making gestures to stave off war, such as releasing the human shields he had held hostage for months.
A dozen years later, Saddam apparently thinks his recycled bag of tricks will succeed. After initially saying that he would not destroy the long-range al-Samoud missiles, Saddam did an about-face just before the deadline to do so—even as he continues to build more. But Saddam has yet to destroy some 6,000 bombs and 1,000 tons of mustard gas. Same goes for 10,000 liters of anthrax and 16,000 liters of botulinum toxins. And he hasn’t even attempted to show proof that he has destroyed this frightening arsenal.
Undeterred by Saddam’s noncompliance on numerous fronts, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is encouraging the Security Council to give his new friend still more time to disarm. Blix acknowledged to the panel last month that Saddam has yet to account for massive amounts of weapons, but he is pointing to the destruction of al-Samoud missiles as proof that Saddam is a changed man. But not even Blix is that foolish—he is merely attempting any tack to produce the “peaceful” outcome he wants. Leaving Saddam in place and his weapons untouched, however, will not mean “peace.” Not that that matters to the soft-on-Saddam crowd.
With the UN Security Council poised to act, speculation abounds that the U.S. and Britain will eventually embrace compromise language in order to salvage some sort of victory. The Canadian proposal, which many consider the front-runner, would set a firm disarmament deadline of March 31. But what should make that date special when Saddam has let several other circled days on the calendar come and go, not to mention that he could have disarmed any time in the past twelve years? And if the next resolution draws yet another line in the sand, when will “one last chance” mean one last chance?
The hymn being sung by members of the Franco-German blockade is that there is no need for another resolution. They’re right. Resolution 1441, which followed 16 previous Security Council resolutions, demanded that Saddam would face “serious consequences” if he did not disarm. The unanimously-passed measure did not provide loopholes for Saddam to cart his cache around in mobile units or hide his chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. The UN is so far removed from reality that the “compromise” response is an 18th resolution. Simply passing another resolution is not a “serious consequence.”
The U.S. is only pushing for a final UN resolution to help British Prime Minister Tony Blair—not a bad motive given how Thatcher-esque he has been in his resolve—but there is a bonus prize involved: allowing the UN to save itself from the irrelevancy. As the President reminded the world last September 12, what authority—moral or otherwise—will the UN have left if it allows the repeated and willful violation of terms of surrender it sets following an offensive war?
War in Iraq is going to happen, with or without the support of the UN. The U.S. won’t be going it alone, though. Dozens of nations have already joined the United States in its quest to liberate Iraq. The only unknown at this point is whether the people of the democratic Federation of Iraq will owe a “thank you” to UN.