The Bush administration has a problem. It stated categorically that Iraq was harbouring weapons of mass destruction. Baghdad refuted the claim. Washington then stated that the weapons inspectors would be sent back to Iraq, hoping that Saddam Hussein would refuse, since he had already expelled them. He accepted. Now they cannot find the WMD he is supposed to have.
The signs that the strain is growing between the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department are clear. Condoleeza Rice, the National Security Advisor, even went so far as to apply pressure on Dr. Hans Blix, the leader of the UNNMOVIC inspection team, to adopt a more aggressive policy.
Reading between the lines, the administration is becoming desperate. What now? For Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney, so long as Britain backs Washington, the option to attack outside the UNO is open. This case becomes stronger after Canada'’ prime Minister, Jean Chretien, insinuated that Canada might join a US/UK coalition in a broad Anglo-Saxonic alliance.
For Secretary of State Colin Powell, any attack must be backed by as many nations on the UN Security Council as possible. The position of Russia is crucially important in this. To date, until there is clear evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and refuses to destroy WMD, this position is a logical one, which is based entirely upon international law, namely that the UN Security Council is the only legal forum for discussion of possible action to be taken, always under the auspices of the UNO.
Any option to go it alone, as was the case in Kosovo, sets dangerous precedents for the future. War crimes were committed by NATO in Kosovo and in southern Serbia as civilians were murdered by NATO aircraft and radioactive weaponry (DU) was deployed, as it had been in the Gulf War in Iraq.
To go in with guns blazing is an option Bush and Blair would evidently enjoy. However, this is not the OK Corral. Not seeing something which exists is possible. Seeing something that does not exist is more problematic.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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