All or nothing

Posted: Sep 19, 2002 12:00 AM
It turns out that Iraq's offer to allow unconditional weapons inspections had conditions after all. In a deal brokered by the Arab League between Iraq and the U.N., weapons inspectors can only visit Iraqi military sites, (END ITAL) according to the London Evening Standard. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the deal should be viewed with "a high degree of skepticism." Even before this poorly baited Iraqi trap had been exposed, the White House dismissed Saddam Hussein's tactical maneuver by saying: "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." Therein lies the key point. In his brilliant speech before the U.N. last week, President Bush took great care to lay out five major conditions that must be included in any new U.N. Security Council resolutions. Failure to meet these conditions would mean that "the world must move deliberately and decisively to hold Iraq to account." These conditions have largely gone unreported by the major media outlets. But they summarize 16 unenforced U.N. resolutions and are absolutely essential to the deal struck within the U.S. government between those who saw no reason to consult again with the U.N. (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) and those who did (Powell). In the U.N. speech, Bush cited Security Council Resolution 688, which demands that Iraq cease at once repression of its own people. Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that "tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state." Then Bush cited resolutions 686 and 687, demanding that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. As of last year, Bush said, "Kuwaiti, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them." Resolution 687 requires that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in the country. Bush stated, "In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel and Western governments." The president also noted that in 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American president (read, his father). He also pointed out that "Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of Sept. 11. And Al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan are known to be in Iraq." Then the president reminded us of the Iraqi agreement made in 1991 to completely disarm by destroying and stopping the development of all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. To prove this, the rogue nation was expected to comply with rigorous inspections. Bush then went on to chronicle Iraqi lies about biological weapons, anthrax, and stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents. On top of this, Bush noted Iraq's efforts to develop nuclear weapons as well as their arsenal of scud-type missiles that are capable of delivering all weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, Bush noted that Saddam Hussein had subverted the U.N. program allowing Iraq to use oil revenues to buy food. Instead, the dictator used that money to purchase missile technology and military materials. The president finally stated that Iraq has not made financial restitution for its military invasions of Kuwait and Iran, nor has it made good on a number of outstanding financial obligations to other governments. Any new resolution developed in the U.N. Security Council must address all of these U.S. government conditions. No single condition will be sufficient -- even though it is doubtful that Iraq could meet any one of them. The president explicitly challenged the U.N. to live up to its principles and enforce all of its prior resolutions with Iraq. In doing so, he seized the moral high ground and the political whip hand -- not only with members of the United Nations, including European and Mideast countries, but also with respect to a new resolution from the U.S. Congress. The president made it quite clear what will happen if these conditions are not met: "The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power." In other words, nothing else will do.