Contrary to what some have said, the Bush administration is not using the U.N. inspections as a pretense to go to war. In fact, if Iraq had voluntarily and publicly destroyed its banned weapons and submitted to rigorous inspections, it would have averted war, since the president would then not have the popular support needed for an invasion.
I cannot say the same, however, for the states that stand in opposition to war. Even now, as we approach the end of this farce, countries such as France and Russia claim the solution to the current impasse is to give the inspectors “more time.” More time for what, now that Blix has reported that yet again the inspectors have not received substantive cooperation?
These states, having already carved up Iraqi oil fields with lucrative post-sanction contracts, were never serious about forcing Iraqi compliance, but instead are attempting to stave off U.S. military action under the guise of a laughably ineffectual inspection regime. Truth be told, there is no point at which our detractors abroad will finally join us in setting in motion the “serious consequences” Iraq was warned it would face. Instead, they will acquiesce only when the hour of war arrives, lest they lose their treasured places at the trough of Iraq’s oil fields. The hypocrisy is theirs, not ours.
Ditto for the liberal slacktivists on the domestic front. They canvass college campuses, their ranks swelling with underinformed undergrads who feel our government should be as indecisive as they are. These peaceniks never found their voices to urge disarmament while the inspectors were withdrawn, yet suddenly they too feel the answer is to allow undeniably ineffective inspections to continue.
“More time,” in this case, really means forever, because what the doves are really advocating is permanent inspections. Many of them are not willing to say so, but it really doesn’t matter if the inspections are effective or not, because as long as they continue, the world will have thwarted the imperialistic war machine of the United States. For these people, the idea that Saddam will never invade while we have a U.N. presence, no-fly zones and sanctions is enough to say “it’s working.”
This is why we ought to act promptly rather than give the inspections “more time” -– because even with continued Iraqi noncompliance, such a delay would never placate critics at home who see George W. Bush and Tony Blair as the true “Axis of Evil.”
These people will only support force in the case of a direct assault by Iraq on another country -– and many not even then. Theirs is a frustratingly naive worldview that is decidedly pre-Sept. 11. That is, these people still do not seem to realize that the greatest threat facing us today is not a direct assault with planes, tanks and infantry, but rather, the proliferation of unconventional weapons among non-democratic states and terrorist organizations.
I, for one, am glad the administration will not appease those who join us in warning of “serious consequences” for defying the United Nations, yet covertly harbor a deep aversion to using force under any scenario.