Yale '62 - The Iraq Dilemma - Bill Rope

"The Iraq Dilemma: Success Could Breed Success"

By Bill Rope
Washington D.C.

The new UN resolution on Iraq is a triumph for George Bush. Added to his November 5 domestic political victory it could be a watershed event in his administration. The route to it has been ugly - even producing a still uglier German backlash that has Kissinger and other Atlanticists alarmed. Yet the end result puts us in a commanding position - either to force Saddam's acquiescence in disarmament or to overthrow him by force, with international cooperation and support.

The resolution is unprecedented in two ways. Technically, it is as tough, detailed and explicit as anything passed by the Security Council since it authorized the Coalition's attack on Iraq in 1991. Giving Iraq one "final opportunity to comply" with the Gulf War's surrender terms, it demands access for UN inspectors, on their terms, without negotiation or preconditions, to virtually any site in Iraq. It empowers inspectors to take Iraqi officials and their families to safe venues outside Iraq for interviews. It sets forth an urgent timetable for compliance and is worded in ways that will give Bush strong grounds for leading an international occupation of Iraq if Saddam fails to comply, within a winter timeframe optimal for military operations and fewer U.S. casualties.

Yale '62 Poll
The Iraq Dilemma
(One poll this month)
1) The following best describes my view of the Iraq situation: (Select one)
Military action against Iraq is necessary in the interests of world peace and should be undertaken even if the U.S. has to move unilaterally.
The United States should lead an international military action only if Saddam does not completely comply with the United Nations resolution.
An attack on Iraq would be a strategic error of great risk to the United States and its population.
A first strike attack against Iraq would be against the American value system.

Diplomatically the resolution is unprecedented for its unanimity. Never before have the Chinese stepped up to plate to cast a vote for such a resolution; and the last-minute Syrian vote signals important Arab support. If Saddam chooses defiance, it will be hard for these parties to back away or to block military action. Nickel and diming will be much harder for Saddam, given the tightness of the resolution and the intention of UN chief inspector Hans Blix to exercise his authority. Stung by widespread criticism of his alleged past softness on Iraq as IAEA chief, the fundamentally capable Blix made clear his determination to Bush in a meeting last week.

The resolution is a victory for Colin Powell (and Congressional moderates like Richard Lugar who will soon head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Conservative hardliners, champing at the bit to overthrow Saddam unilaterally, see it as a defeat. They resent the fact that Powell - who didn't want to go to war in 1990 and whose conservatism as JCS Chairman weakened post-war UN efforts to disarm Iraq - now seems a hero. Powell may continue to shine, if he can hold the international support his efforts have brought about; and he may well have ended the era of go-it-alone Bush diplomacy. Powell must know, however, that without the initiative of the hardliners, however blunt-edged their tactics may have been, Washington would not have returned elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the forefront of the world agenda.

Much remains to be played out. Saddam will try to evade this resolution. We may yet have war - easier than last time but fraught with challenges, particularly afterward. But Saddam's international position has been badly undermined. If Bush plays his cards right, with Powell continuing his moderating role, he may succeed in removing a key threat to peace in the Middle East while ending the tragic suffering of the Iraqi people. Success breeds success; and there would be much to be built upon from there.

What's your view?