Bush to Hussein: It's not about the inspections, stupid.
Before the Iraqi government agreed to "unconditional"
inspections, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on "Meet the Press."
Reportedly Powell -- behind the scenes -- urged the President to A) seek
congressional approval, B) seek a U.N. Security Council resolution and C)
force Saddam, one more time, to allow U.N. inspectors.
"It appears the president has now adopted those three
positions," said host Tim Russert, who then asked, "Is that a victory for
Colin Powell within the administration?"
"Colin Powell doesn't worry about victories and losses," said
the secretary of state. "In this instance, (Bush) weighed all of the advice
he was getting, he looked at all the options ... and he decided that,
whether he needed the legal authority or not, it was the right thing to do.
... This was a clear violation of U.N. resolutions. ... You cannot argue
about the fact that he's in violation of these resolutions. ... So the
president decided it was the right thing to do to take this problem back to
the international community."
So Bush addressed the United Nations. "The Iraqi regime," said
Bush, "agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction
and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by
complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this
Bush also described how Iraq has "admitted to producing tens of
thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents," although
inspectors believe that Iraq actually produced two to four times that
amount, and never accounted for over three metric tons of biological weapons
material. Bush pointed out that Iraq has fired ballistic missiles into
Israel and other Arab countries, and accused Iraq of stockpiling chemical
agents and expanding production facilities. The president also said Iraq
admitted possessing a nuclear weapons program
the Gulf War, and retains the necessary infrastructure, nuclear scientists,
while attempting to procure materials necessary for nuclear weapons.
Then Saddam ostensibly blinked.
The Iraqi government sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, who gleefully announced, "I am pleased to inform you of the
decision of the government of the Republic of Iraq to allow the return of
the United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions." Without
conditions? Actually, the Iraqi statement said, "Iraq is ready to discuss
practical arrangements necessary for the immediate resumption of
inspections." Practical arrangements?
It looks as if Saddam caught the administration flat-footed.
Before this "offer," Bush expressed doubt that Saddam would comply, given
that the dictator, up until now, linked resumption of inspections to the
lifting of U.N. sanctions, and wanted a role in the selection of the
The White House issued the following statement: "This is not a
matter of inspections. It is about disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction and the Iraqi regime's compliance with all other Security
Council resolutions. This is a tactical step by Iraq in hopes of avoiding
strong U.N. Security Council action."
But by addressing the United Nations, and implicitly supporting
U.N. a resumption of U.N. inspections before military action, Bush changed
the topic from the tyrant to the tyrant's weapons. How can Bush now say to
the world: "Too late. Been there, done that. We're coming in anyway."
But note that in Bush's U.N. speech, he made additional demands:
the disclosure, removal and destruction of all weapons of mass destruction;
end the support of terrorism and actively suppress it; end civil rights
abuses of the Iraqi people; accept liability for costs of his invasion of
Kuwait; and end the black market trade connected with the so-called
The Iraqi offer stinks. Despite Iraqi pledges, the country still
shelters and supports terrorism, attempted to assassinate the emir of Kuwait
and President Bush-41 and still harbors al-Qaida escapees, while praising
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Iraq also promised to return all prisoners
from Kuwait and elsewhere -- including one American pilot among the more
than 600 still unaccounted for. As the president said, "Iraq has answered a
decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance."
Remember Ken Adelman, former assistant to Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and arms-control director under President Reagan, recently
said, "We can't solve this problem by reinstating U.N. inspections. ...
(Saddam's) chief nuclear engineer, Khidhir Hamza, identified more than 400
sites in Saddam's nuclear-weapons program -- not counting those making
chemical and biological agents." Accordingly, the president told the United
Nations: "To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions
and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must
So Bush to Saddam: too little, too late. This is not about
inspections. This is about a brutal, maniacal dictator who possesses
chemical and biological weapons and is in hot pursuit of acquiring nuclear
ones. This is about