March 14, 2003

As the UN fiddles

The United Nations continued to dicker and dither over the precise language of its 18th resolution challenging the Iraqi regime to disarm – the final diplomatic gesture according to President George Bush, who has set March 17th as Saddam’s deadline.

Last week, the President clearly and explicitly called for a vote: “No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council.”

The President’s National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice insisted: “The Security Council needs to show that its resolutions mean something. We have a lot of difficult problems out there in which we need a strong, vital Security Council – not one that is still reeling from a history of having been unable to act in Kosovo…unable to act in Rwanda.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reminded of the objective of a unified allied stance toward Iraq: “The goal is to not have a war. The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates. Short of that … the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition.”

Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix filed his report with the UN detailing 29 “clusters” of unresolved WMD disarmament issues. On Iraq’s enormous stores of anthrax, the report states, “UNMOVIC has credible information…. Based on all the available evidence the strong presumption is that about 10,000 liters of anthrax was not destroyed and may still exist.” But 16 weeks after the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, the Iraqi regime has neither complied nor cooperated “immediately, unconditionally, and actively,” as required by 1441, and is in “material breach.”

We are shocked – SHOCKED – to report that Saddam has given notice that Iraq will not comply or cooperate with resolution #18, and his ally, France, has indicated they will veto the measure if it comes to a UNSC vote. Testifying on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Colin Powell floated the possibility of that vote’s being postponed or pulled completely, prompting the U.S. and our allies to warn that military action could begin before the 17 March deadline if the council rejects the resolution – and not a minute too soon. Sen. John McCain reminded his colleagues what the president said last week: “The American people, not the United Nations, is the only body that President Bush has sworn to represent.”

Though The Federalist believes that the United States would be better off – in many ways – by withdrawing from the UN, we remain confident that the Bush administration is using the UN to serve its own ends, not the other way around.

Of course, all of this folly has served to demonstrate aptly that the UN has no teeth. Perhaps the UN served some purpose when the threats were symmetric – well-defined nation states rattling sabers. The UN made high art during the Cold War of serving up lengthy debate “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and, indeed, bleeding off pressures among the free nations led by the U.S. and the captive nations under the Communist “Evil Empire.” But in the current asymmetric threat environment, where nation states provide surrogates with WMD to do their bidding, the UN has proven itself totally ineffective.

The net result of that ineffectiveness has convinced Saddam and his cadre of adherents that they can delay and evade conflict rather than disarm and depart into exile – though we still think many of his military officers will “French” when the fighting starts. However, he has used the delay to better position his batteries, rockets and artillery against U.S. invasion points and along his Western border – in reach of Israel, and our smart munitions. Saddam has also re-instituted payments to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers in the amount of $25,000 per. To date, Saddam has paid the families of these terrorists between $20- and $35-million. But Iraq, of course, has no ties to Islamic terrorism.

Can war still be avoided at this late date? One Iraqi military defector believes so. Former Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Tawfiq Al-Yasiri declared, “It is possible that with the start of U.S. air and missile strikes, the central government might lose control to command its bodies and over the Iraqi streets. …[S]ome commanders in some military units, who are against the government, intend to operate along with the opposition and participate in the process of the Iraqi regime change. These commanders will take advantage of the right opportunity to carry out a military coup.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. remains in the steady WMD sights of Saddam’s Jihadi surrogates – al-Qa'ida operative slumbering in U.S. suburbs – as France, Germany, Russia and China spectate.

Quote of the week…

“…[D]espite the UN’s professed aversion to war, what it really seems to object to is victory. In the UN’s 58-year history, two wars have been waged under Security Council auspices: Korea and the Gulf War. Both ended with less than total victories, leaving in power two of the worst tyrannies on earth, which are now two of the world’s most dangerous rogue states. UN peacekeeping operations, too, are at best a mixed bag, with a record of failing to prevent such horrors as the Srebrenica massacre and the Rwanda genocide.” –James Taranto

On cross-examination…

“…[T]he notion that the UN’s ‘moral’ approval was somehow necessary [to disarm Iraq] is ludicrous, particularly since UN morality includes turning over its human-rights committee to Libya and repeatedly branding as racist the only Middle East democracy, Israel.” –John Leo

Open query…

“…[W]hen will ‘one last chance’ mean one last chance?” –Joel Mowbray

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