Forgive my cynicism in saying that the only way to solve the problem with Iraq will ultimately be to turn the country into something resembling a Disney World parking lot. Is this what I want to happen? Certainly not. The last thing I want is war with Iraq. Do I see any other solution that would resolve the present conflict? No.
The ongoing stalemate over Iraqi weaponry is partly due to the shortcomings or world leaders and partly because of the terribly confusing conundrum of world politics.
Take, for example, the United States. In a speech to the United Nations, President Bush warned the organization to either take action against Saddam Hussein, or the United States would. Of course, Bush and his staff see no problem with just invading Iraq, apparently not concerned with the illegality of the move, nor the universal condemnation it will bring on the United States. Nor do they take the Iraqi surprise concession to U.N. inspectors as even remotely sincere.
Bush and Co. are choosing to blow off (perhaps) the hand of compromise with a 12-gauge shotgun as they try to push through Congress a resolution for military action against Iraq before the United Nations Security Council can do anything.
But Bush is not totally to blame. A great majority of the blame for the present situation lies on the serene but irresolute leader of the U.N., Secretary General Kofi Annan. While he was not in power at the beginning of the Iraqi mess (Annan took his current post in 1996), it was under his watch that most of the problems with Iraq have occurred. When U.N. weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq on Oct. 31, 1998, Annan did little to stop Hussein past producing a U.N. resolution condemning the act. Over the past four years, he has made no real concerted effort to force Hussein to allow weapon inspectors back in the country. And now, he looks more like Neville Chamberlain than himself as he goes through the halls of the United Nations, waiving around the Iraqi concession as if it is a great victory.
The truth is, the Iraqi concession to “unconditional” weapons inspections is quite a sham. While the doors to every military installation in the country will be open, will inspectors be able to check out, say, hospitals or schools? It’s doubtful, because that’s probably where the majority of chemical and nuclear weapon development is being done. Hussein is a madman. I’ll concede that he’s not as evil as Hitler (as George Sr. proclaimed), but he definitely can’t be trusted to allow inspections to go unhindered.
How can you trust the word of a man who has broken no less than 10 U.N. resolutions against him? Or a man who gasses ethnic minorities in his country or moves his most expensive military equipment next to schools and mosques, thereby using innocents as human shields? You can’t. But you also can’t just go marching into his country, at least not without a U.N. resolution allowing you to do so.
I see the present conflict ending in a hail of missiles with U. S. flags on the sides. The unfortunate thing is that right now, that seems like the only real option we have.
Joe Roma is a senior majoringin political science.E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org