A Way Out (In)

It is looking more and more likely that the United States could be fighting a three-front war by the summer: Afghanistan (which will expand across the Pakistani border if a new terrorist attack occurs), Iraq (an occupation) and North Korea (a defensive war after we bomb their nuclear facilities).

To reject Bush’s silly rhetoric, I think these would actually be three different wars, not a single, three-front war. But the purpose would be the same: to protect ourselves from proliferating weapons of mass destruction and the terrorists who would use them.

In the case of Iraq, it’s become clear today, after Blix’s useless presentation, that we will not get the strong U.N. resolution we wanted. But there is still a way for the United States to either force peaceful disarmament or wage war with some claim of international legitimacy. The U.S. should propose a new U.N. resolution that is very simple: Iraq must come forth with all of its weapons of mass destruction (particularly those that have been well-documented by the United Nations and that we know are there), or it must provide the inspectors with proof that those weapons have already been destroyed. It must do this within 15 days.

The U.S. could quickly garner support for this resolution, because it does not declare a material breach. But it does set a concrete deadline, which negates the need for any polarizingly explicit authorization of force. France, Germany, Russia and China can argue they are still giving peace a chance, while the U.S. can argue it has the right to wage war if Saddam does not comply.

If France, Germany, Russia and China would prefer to keep the United Nations in a state of perpetual paralysis, then U.S. should offer the resolution for a vote anyway and let them veto it. It would prove to the world that the other great powers were never serious about disarmament, and that we must move forward alone.

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