Wednesday, November 13, 2002


After yesterday’s momentary flash of sense, today’s Sydney Morning Herald tries and fails to see the reality of the Middle East.
The great and general relief at the unanimous agreement in the UN Security Council on Iraq may be shortlived. Not only do the multiple triggers in Resolution 1441 make a breach, and so war, more likely than not.

The point of multiple triggers is to close the bloody loopholes. No more arguments, no more hedging. If A, then B.
the United States will "go into Iraq" if it decides Iraq has not complied with the demand to declare its weapons of mass destruction and allow them to be destroyed.

One of the easiest methods to make sure a decision is reached on any subject is to remember two questions: “If not now, when?” and “If not you, who?”. That way decisions don’t slide, and action remains on the table. The UN has refused to answer these two simple questions, and if the USA has finally gotten jack of the run around, who can blame them?
There’s the obvious:
Undoubtedly it is desirable that Iraq be stripped of weapons of mass destruction. And the people of Iraq would be better off under a ruler less oppressive than Saddam Hussein. As well, the UN, which has previously sought to uncover and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, should not be defied again by Iraqi lies and deception.

If the UN “should not be defied”, but will not stick up for itself, then what? There’s plenty of guff about “enforcing international law”, but a lot of pretending that the “force” part of “enforcing” somehow doesn’t mean breaking things and killing people.
There the usual why Iraq? clause:
That said, there is still no clear answer to the question why Iraq - among all the oppressive regimes in the world; among all those with weapons of mass destruction; and among those which have defied UN resolutions - should be singled out for unique and extreme international ostracism.

Why not? If not them, then who? North Korea HAS THE BOMB. Pakistan is co-operating fully in hunting down the bad guys, and they HAVE THE BOMB. This is a once-only chance to step on a dictator BEFORE HE GETS THE BOMB. Before.

The editorial winds up with historical justification, military miscalculation, and ignorance of recent past. Degree of difficulty: 8.6
Mr Bush is widely praised for his strength and patience in securing a strong UN resolution that applies extreme pressure on Iraq.

The Resolution is there because, and only because Bush made it clear this was the UN’s last chance, as well as Iraq’s.
But this brinkmanship lacks the justification that, for example, President John Kennedy had in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

And what would provide the justification? Should we wait until he HAS THE BOMB, so raising the stakes to include the incineration of millions of civilians?
Any satisfaction at seeing Saddam cornered - and given, in effect, the choice between war and peace - must be mixed with deep concern at the now greatly increased prospect of a new and terrible conflict in the Middle East.

Like all those uprisings so confidently predicted before Afghanistan? Like all that instability we had to fear before the First Gulf War? Say it loud, say it proud: IT DIDN’T HAPPEN, and IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN THIS TIME EITHER. The only people seriously scared about regime change in Baghdad, apart from Sammy’s boys, are the brutal and bloody rulers of the surrounding states, who can see the writing on the wall.

And why? Because they don’t fool themselves about the nature of their governments. In the privacy of their palaces, they don’t work themselves into a lather about who has the legitimate right to do what, because they don’t fool themselves as to the true nature of their own methods. Dictators understand power, and they have a far clearer acknowledgment of what they personally have had to do to stay in charge. How many thousands of people executed, dissidents imprisoned, families deported, cities gassed, towns flattened, money stolen, palaces built, opponents disappeared. Unlike many in the West, dictators hold no illusions about what constitutes legitimate rule.

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