Assume the Position
Saturday, February 22, 2003
A Handle On Iraq. There is an answer to "Why Iraq instead of …?" Over on Thinking Meat, E. Nough has addressed part of it:
…It is not because Saddam is a "brutal dictator"…E. Nough then goes on to say,
The problem is, so far I haven't heard this argument from the Bush Administration. All we hear is the individual problems -- WMD, terrorism -- that I talked about at the beginning, and none of those stand up on their own. If it is to have any hope of global support (which isn't required, but why not try?), the Administration will have to tie all those things together in one package, to show Hussein to be a genuine global threat, not just a minor local nuisance.But that isn't exactly the case. Just one example, from Bush's 2003 State of the Union address:
"Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States.""Brutal dictator" - check.
"Oil" ["great potential wealth"] - check.
"Terrorism" - check.
Plus designs on regional domination.
The only thing missing from that list are Iraq's weapons programs, which Bush then addressed in more than a dozen paragraphs. The rest of the answer to "Why Iraq?" is also the reason that Hussein's prohibited weapons programs get the majority of attention — the 1991 cease fire agreement provides the handle to taking military action against Iraq.
Sure there are brutal regimes that already possess, or are trying to attain, weapons that most of the rest of the world would like to prevent them from possessing. North Korea is the prime example. But guess what? There is no handle by which Korea can be forced to comply with the wishes of the "international community." The 1953 armistice agreement, besides being half-a-century old, didn't prohibit North Korea from building nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missiles. The various weapons control treaties, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, are all voluntary, contain procedures for a country to withdraw from them, and have weak enforcement mechanisms to address violations—mechanisms that do not include the use of military force.
Regardless of what many commentators say, the US actually goes to great effort to operate within the technical confines of that nebulous construct known as "international law." The US no longer signs on to treaties it knows it cannot or will not meet (global warming), withdraws from treaties in compliance with their particulars (bi-lateral US-USSR ABM treaty), etc. As long as the North Korean's stay above the DMZ, they can pretty much do whatever they want and the only allowable response for the international community is to apply leverage in the form of various economic sanctions because "international law" recognizes that no nation can be forced to trade with another, thus allowing nations to agree to freeze out regimes that are violating various international norms.
As far as I can determine, Iraq is the only nation whose possession of prohibited weapons can "legally" be dealt with by force because the prohibition is part of the 1991 cease fire agreement imposed under the internationalist UNSC authorization to "use all necessary means." If military force is the "necessary means" to ensure Iraqi compliance with the disarmament requirements of the cease fire, then military force is "legal" under "international law." This is why the Administration was correct when it said it doesn't really need additional UNSC authorizations, neither UNSCR 1441 nor a second resolution is required. They are only desired in a cross the t's and dot the i's show of continued consensus, but the bottom line is that resumption of military hostilities is a recognized and "legal" response to violations of a cease fire agreement.
The answer to "Why Iraq instead of …?" is because Iraq is like a slot machine that always comes up Triple-Bar in every category when you compare it to any other regime you might use to finish that question, and the handle on the side is inscribed "use all necessary means."
Thursday, February 20, 2003
A Reminder Of What A Real UN Ultimatum Looks Like - UNSCR 678, November 29, 1990 (bold added, italics as in UN printed version):
The Security Council,
UNSC Resolution 1441.01c - the Canadian Plan:
Canada urged the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to consider a compromise plan whereby Iraq would be given a deadline to show it was complying with demands to disarm or face the consequences.Was it just my imagination, or didn't UNSCR 1441 identify fixed dates and specific disarmament tasks, and threaten "serious consequences" if Iraq failed to comply?
3. Decides that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament obligations, in addition to submitting the required biannual declarations, the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material;As I said of Scott Ritter's definition of "hammer," "serious consequences" in the Blue Helmet glossary means "a nastygram from Kofi Annan backed by a threat of further nastygrams."