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February 18, 2003

Policy Break--Told You So


An editorial in the New York Times of February 18 opines that

The most hawkish figures in the Bush administration never wanted to bring the Iraq issue before the United Nations. With last Friday's show of resistance in the Security Council to early military action against Baghdad, it's easy to imagine some of them saying "I told you so," and urging President Bush to bypass the Council and prepare for an invasion joined only by Britain and a narrow coalition of smaller nations. That would be a damaging mistake.

As I noted on September 17 of last year—five months ago—anyone could see how the game of “inspections” was going to turn out:

According to a NY Times editorial for September 17 on “The Iraqi Chessboard,” Saddam’s unconditional offer to allow U.N. inspection “could open the way to resolving the crisis peacefully and should certainly be tested.” Of course they admit that Saddam may just be trying to jerk the U.N. Security Council around on his program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but they opine that “[i]t shouldn’t take long to tell whether Iraq will really give inspectors a free hand, or will follow its invitation with limitations that render it meaningless.”


We seemed to go on for years back in the middle-1990’s with an impotent game of cat-and-mouse inspection; how long d’you suppose the Times means by “too long” in this instance?

Granted, the eagerness with which the French and Germans have defended Saddam’s right to continue his long-running role as neighborhood psychopath has proved a bit of a surprise, but the way “inspections” would pan out was never in much doubt. I guess today’s question is how long opponents of military force will cling to the fig-leaf of “inspections” as a way of doing nothing about a problem while appearing to do something. Based on the Times’ record to date, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for them to drop the leaf.



posted by Friedrich at February 18, 2003


Good one. All of which makes me wonder a few stray things: what kind of person is ultra-attached to the United Nations? Doesn't the dream of a world-wide court of last appeal remind you of the many other utopian dreams of modernism? Ie., well, if there's no God-style ultimate authority, then we've got to install something very like here on earth. My preference is to see us ditch the UN altogether, and as I type those words I find myself thinking that I should have come to that opinion years ago.

My other semi-stray reflection is: what kind of person goes into politics? I mean, who would volunteer to put up with the charades, the ceremony, the agonizing timetables? And politics isn't something like a local business that you just kinda fall into -- it's something you do have to want to go into. How much of a fruitcake do you have to be to want to contend with all this? Even admitting that there will be a few people who have drives and sense of honor that impel them in some decent way to want to help out with important matters, doesn't it seem inevitable, given the nature of politics, that most of the people going into the field will be massively untrustworthy as human beings?

Hence, in large part, my own preference for a strictly limited governmental/political sphere....

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 18, 2003 12:01 PM

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