Bush must give U.N. resolution a chance to work.
After two months of intensive wrangling, the United Nations Security Council has issued a new resolution giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a "final opportunity" to give up his secretive work on weapons of mass destruction or face ``serious consequences.''
Make no mistake, for President Bush those consequences mean military action and the overthrow of Saddam's regime if he fails to eliminate any nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. The diplomats' carefully crafted wording aside, Bush has a gun pointed at Saddam's head and intends to pull the trigger at the first sign of resistance.
Even as the 15 Security Council members voted unanimously for the resolution, the American military continues to amass firepower in the Persian Gulf. Soldiers, arms and equipment are pouring into Kuwait and other countries. Four U.S. carrier battle groups will arrive in the region by the end of this month.
Under terms of the resolution, Iraq has seven days to indicate whether it will accept the terms of the resolution and then another 30 days to reveal all of its chemical, biological and nuclear programs. The measure leaves Bush what he wanted all along, and what he should resist using: the freedom to attack Iraq without a formal second U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force.
Saddam, who has proven himself a master of the art of survival, should comply and disarm without delay. If he yields to his megalomaniacal craving for weapons of mass destruction and cheats again - if he issues one false statement or attempts to obstruct inspectors - neither he nor his regime is likely to survive to see the new year. But if he complies, and if Bush acts with wisdom and restraint and does not follow through on his long-standing threat to remove Saddam from power, the Iraqi leader could see the end of the sanctions that have imposed great hardships on the Iraqi people since they were put into effect after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Within 45 days, teams of U.N. inspectors will deploy across Iraq for the first time since 1998. This time they'll be armed with sweeping powers to go anywhere and see anything. If inspectors see anything suspicious - say, an unmarked truck speeding away from an inspection site - the new resolution gives them authority to demand that all ground and air traffic be halted.
They also have the right to yank anyone they want to interview out of Iraq, including members of Saddam's own family.
Bush must now give this resolution a reasonable chance to succeed and resist the temptation to use any pretext to launch a U.S. attack on Iraq. And if Saddam plays the fool and refuses to comply, then Bush should await a second convening of the Security Council, as called for in the resolution, to determine what should be a multilateral response. To do otherwise would be to fuel the perception of critics both at home and abroad that Bush is an arrogant adventurer who has no regard for the opinions of other nations.
If Saddam cooperates in order to save his head and Iraq is truly and fully disarmed, then Bush will have won a great victory, one that will loom far larger in the history of his presidency than a solo U.S. invasion of Iraq.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Nov 9, 2002|
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