Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, February 21, 2003

This is supposed to be a tough stance?

In a tough, welcome speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, Canadian ambassador Paul Heinbecker argued persuasively that the U.N. must be prepared to put more heat on Saddam Hussein to disarm, if the council hopes to preserve its credibility and avert war.

"Around the world, people are speaking out, asking that this crisis be resolved peacefully," he reminded the Security Council.

Heinbecker made news with his call for an "early deadline" for Saddam to comply. That sounded like Canada was lurching into the hawkish Washington/London camp. But it also reflects the realpolitik that war against Iraq is but a heartbeat away.

The creativity in Canada's proposal lies in its appeal that the Security Council "spell out clearly" - for the first time - just how Saddam can comply with "key remaining disarmament tasks" related to his stocks of VX gas, anthrax and botulinum.

Give Saddam the minimum requirements necessary? Are we then to assume he will give up everything we don't ask for, directly. Or we could just pretend such things don't exist. 1441 lays out exactly what Saddam must do to avoid 'serious consequences'. Completely disarm and prove it to the inspectors. They have been asking Saddam to comply and he has not.

It responds to a valid question millions of peace marchers in Canada and elsewhere have been asking: Why go to war now? U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair haven't made that case despite months of trying. There is no good reason to make war now. Iraq has been contained. Still, Iraq must be disarmed, as Security Council Resolution 1441 requires.

If the United States and Britain call a time out and Saddam subsequently refuses to comply with specific, focused U.N. demands, he will bring down war on himself.

Adopting Ottawa's plan would salvage the U.N.'s credibility and meet legitimate U.S. security concerns.

It'd give Bush the "final" deadline he wants, but only if Saddam rejects every sensible demand made of him.

The 16 ignored Resolutions leading to 'just one more' (they are like junkies or something. Come on Kofi, just give me one more resolution. How about just one line? Give me a "Hereby Resolved...") chance for Saddam, ad infinitum, have done plenty of damage to the UN's credibility. Further equivocation will throw the last shovelful of dirt on the grave of the UN's credibility. And the past 16 resolutions and the groveling Hans Blix have exhausted the supply of 'reasonable demands'.

That's what 1441 was.

Drawing up a U.N. list of "deliverables" would not be easy. It would force Washington and London to put forward a coherent set of technical demands for the first time. Demands that would seriously test Saddam's willingness to comply. Paris and Berlin in turn would have to embrace a deadline that acknowledges the world's patience is at an end.

The onus is not on the US and UK. We are not in contravention of UN Resolutions. Not one of those resolutions calls on us to prove anything. We have nothing to prove. Saddam does. Giving him the minimum requirements lets him know what he can keep hidden. The past 12 years haven't tested that willingness and found it somewhat lacking? And, no, they would not. They have admitted their patience will have no end. 1991-1998 of wild goose-chases didn't end that patience and the next 5 years of Saddam pretending those resolutions don't exist didn't end their patience. A few more months will?

If Saddam complies, everybody wins. Bush will have his "regime change," and the U.N. its credibility. Iraqis will have peace. If Saddam balks, Canada will have done what it could to prevent bloodshed.

All of the people Saddam tortures, starves and imprisons will win? The people who have lost family members will have won? Saddam will still be in place with every weapons program we didn't specifically ask for (assuming as the writer does that he just doesn't lie about everything he gives us. No precedent for that, right? No, only Saddam and his immediate circle of murderous cronies will have 'peace' until Saddam's nuclear program is complete.

And then we get to the crux of it. This is what the whole column is about. Washing away guilt. Refusing to make the hard decision. Placing that onus on others so you can say, it is not my fault. Condemning millions to live under the tyranny of the Hussein's so you can sleep easy at night.

< email | 2/21/2003 10:10:00 AM | link

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