(Washington, D.C.): Six months to the day after President Bush offered not only Saddam Hussein but the United Nations one last chance to disarm Iraq, the verdict is in: So long as the former is in power, he will not voluntarily, fully and permanently surrender his weapons of mass destruction programs or credibly foreswear the aggressive ambitions that drive his desire for such arms. And the United Nations will be rendered — as Mr. Bush warned — just as ineffectual as the League of Nations in dealing with the security threats of our time, thanks to the determination of Saddam’s friends in the Security Council to protect him.
The lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal lays out succinctly the dangers associated with allowing the so-called UN diplomatic/inspections “process” to be strung out any further. It argues persuasively for President Bush to get on with the liberation of Iraq, without further ado. We can only hope he heeds this advice, cuts the considerable losses (both domestically and internationally) incurred by the Nation’s long detour in Lilliput-on- the -East-River and begins forthwith the liberation of Iraq.
Delaying action in Iraq is endangering American lives
Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2003
- “The Bush Administration is putting a special focus on winning the support of Guinea…” –Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
We’ve never visited Guinea, which is perhaps our loss. But the spectacle of the U.S. government begging that African nation for permission to sacrifice American blood and treasure to save the world from Saddam Hussein exposes the farce that the U.N. Security Council’s Iraq debate has become. Every day of delay in starting the war matters little to Guinea but it puts more Americans at mortal risk.
President Bush is of course trying to accommodate his stalwart friend, Tony Blair. The British Prime Minister wants a nine-vote majority in the 15-member Security Council as a shield against his Labour Party critics. But Mr. Blair’s fate will surely rise or fall on how well the war goes and not on who approves it in advance. Mr. Bush has already done him the favor of going for a first U.N. resolution last fall, followed by weeks of further delay this year to seek a second.
That second effort now looks like a diplomatic blunder, given Russian and the implacable French opposition. The process itself has also forced the U.S. to give up some of the attack advantage of strategic surprise. And it now risks causing more tangible harm as the U.S. agrees to more concessions and extensions–yesterday to one beyond even the earlier “final” deadline of March 17.
This latest delay is aimed at gathering the elusive but somehow “crucial” votes of “six swing Council nations.” In addition to Guinea, those countries are Mexico, Chile, Angola, Pakistan and the always strategically vital Cameroon. The U.S. has already been reduced to bribing these countries with cash or other favors in return for their support. Yet they’ve all played hard to get, posing as Hamlet for their 10 minutes of fame on the world stage.
The Mexican and Chilean fandango is especially insulting given the preferential treatment their exports receive to the U.S. market. Maybe we should transfer to Bulgaria– which is supporting us sans bribery–the trade benefits that these two nations apparently take for granted. These columns have long tried sympathetically to explain Mexican realities to our readers, but President Vicente Fox’s U.N. war straddle will cost his country years of U.S. public goodwill.
Mexican and French soldiers will not be doing any dying once the war finally does start. That privilege will belong to Americans (and some Brits and Aussies), and every day that they are prevented from starting to disarm Saddam is one more day he is able to prepare death traps for them and for us. There are now daily reports that the Iraqi dictator has booby-trapped oil wells, dispersed his mobile poison labs or placed agents among Iraqi civilians. Yesterday’s AP dispatch had him opening “a training camp for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces.” Every day of delay also gives him, or al Qaeda, more time to plant or mobilize agents to attack the U.S. homeland.
There are other growing costs of delay. One is the economic damage from uncertainty–which is small compared with life and limb but seems large if you lose your job. Another is the lesson to other thugs, such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, that they can also use the U.N. to stymie and wait out American resolve. And then there is the cost to President Bush’s own political standing and credibility as he lets the world’s pygmies tie him down like Gulliver.
We could support further delay in starting the war if there were any hope at all that U.N. inspections might disarm Saddam short of costing American lives. The trend is in fact the opposite. Hans Blix, Mohammed El Baradei and the other inspectors seem more inclined than ever to forgive Iraqi intransigence. Mr. El Baradei made a public fuss last week about one British-U.S. claim that turns out to have been false, but which was in any case peripheral to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Blix buried deep in his latest report the news of an illegal Iraqi drone capable of delivering chemical weapons.
As each day passes, the evidence mounts that the U.N. inspections regime is not about containing Saddam; it is about containing America. Messrs. Bush and Blair went to the U.N. in good faith to build international support, and perhaps in the process to rescue the U.N. from irrelevance. The U.N. is proving daily that is in fact another League of Nations. Mr. Bush’s obligation is not to the reputation of the U.N. but to the safety of American soldiers and citizens.