Is there a "benchmark" that will satisfy the international community?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by OPTIONAL777, Feb 16, 2003.

  1. U.S. to propose final tests for Saddam
    Steven R. Weisman
    New York Times
    Published 02/16/2003

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seeking better proof that Iraq continues to defy U.N. weapons inspectors, the Bush administration plans a set of specific tests in the next two weeks of Saddam Hussein's willingness to disarm, administration officials said Saturday.

    At the same time, despite growing resistance at the United Nations to authorizing force against Iraq, the administration intends to put forward, as early as Tuesday, a resolution that would declare Iraq out of compliance with disarmament and authorize "serious consequences" if it continues on that path. U.S. officials hope that skeptical nations will support the resolution if Iraq fails the new tests.

    "Within days you will have a decision by the United States on an early resolution at the United Nations," an official said. Meanwhile, he said, U.N. weapons inspectors are preparing "benchmark" tests for Iraq that could also be presented this week.

    The administration's determination to maintain pressure on Iraq, but to continue doing so through the United Nations, was also signaled Saturday by Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.

    Speaking before a Labor meeting in Glasgow as antiwar demonstrations spread across Europe, Blair harshly criticized Saddam, saying that if 1 million protesters marched, "that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started." Still, Blair said, "I continue to want to solve the issue of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction through the U.N."

    Administration officials said that President Bush will confer over this three-day weekend with Secretary of State Colin Powell and that they will talk with allies to decide the wording and timing of the next proposal to the Security Council.

    No less important

    Despite what appeared to be a setback at the United Nations on Friday for the U.S.-led effort to win international backing for military action against Iraq, officials say Britain and the United States have decided that the new resolution will specifically threaten Iraq with "serious consequences" -- code words for the use of force. The threat will be made in response to Iraq's failure to comply with arms inspections, the officials said.

    The other part of the administration's strategy is no less important, especially given the opposition to force by France and other countries, officials said. This relates to its plans to present Iraq with specific tasks in the next two weeks that would make clear its willingness to cooperate.

    These tasks would include allowing weapons inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists without government "minders" present, the destruction of missiles that were recently found to have greater range than the United Nations allows, and permitting unconditional overflights by American, European and Russian reconnaissance aircraft.

    "We are looking for some early benchmarks, specific things that the Iraqis will have to do to show full compliance," an administration official said. He said that Hans Blix agreed to setting such benchmarks when he met with Powell on Friday after the contentious Security Council session.

    U.S. and British planners hope that once it is obvious Iraq is refusing to carry out these tasks, Blix will tell the United Nations forthrightly that Iraq is failing to comply with the disarmament demands of last November's Security Council Resolution 1441.

    On Friday, Blix delivered an assessment of Iraqi cooperation that was interpreted very differently by the United States and by France and other opponents of using force.

    The ambiguity of Blix's statement, coupled with his rebuttal of certain information presented by the United States as evidence of Iraqi misconduct, dismayed many in the U.S. and British governments.

    Blix's concluding statement on Friday was that "the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short, if immediate, active and unconditional cooperation" were "forthcoming."

    U.S. officials seized on this wording as proof of their contention that Iraq has fallen far short of the "immediate, active and unconditional cooperation" that was specified in Resolution 1441. The French, on the other hand, took from this same language the suggestion that without such cooperation, inspections could still work but that they might take longer.

    © Copyright 2003 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
  2. ...I voted for #1, but I think that there are good arguments for #2 and #3 as well, and they may not be mutually exclusive. But maybe that's what makes a good poll.

    Frequently on Saturday evenings, I visit a Barnes and Noble, pick up some books for the next week, stop at restaurant called Chili My Soul to get something to go, then come home and read over dinner. Last night, my tastes were running to escapist action thriller and Turkey Santa Cruz. The book was a fun if far-fetched piece called ICE STATION, set in Antarctica, but it turned out not to offer an "escape" from current events at all.

    Turns out that ICE STATION's main conflict is US Marine Recon vs. French special forces, based on efforts to capture and exploit apparently extraterrestrial technology discovered far below the ice. An early diplomats' discussion setting up the conflict explains how the US frequently ends up in shadow struggles with our supposed allies, and includes an extended description of French aspirations to supplant the US as the dominant power in Europe: A senior diplomat asks his junior, "Phil, did you know that for the last forty years, the one and only goal of French foreign policy has been to destroy the United States' hegemony over the Western World?" The older man goes on: "They think of us as brutes, unsophisticated fools. Beer-swilling rednecks who through some accident of history somehow got our hands on the most powerful weapons in the world and, from that, became its leader." It goes on...

    It's becoming more and more clear to me that, leaving all moral and political claims aside, the US attempt to secure its geo-strategic center of gravity in the Middle East at a minimum would leave the French torn between their allegiance to their larger interests as an industrialized democracy and their national interests vis-a-vis the US. Any US difficulties, especially as reinforced by European anti-war sentiment, create an irresistible temptation for the French to press their national goal of weakening US influence in Europe. At this time and on this issue, German and Russian interests largely coincide with French interests, and the Chinese don't mind seeing the US tied down and weakened "in the rear" either.

    The US may eventually need to persuade some or all of these powers that their longer-term interests remain with us, not against us. Over time, economic factors should make that argument easier, especially if, as Tom Friedman suggests in his latest column (very good,, threats from what he calls "the World of Disorder" put an intolerably stiff tax on world commerce. For the present, the Bush Administration appears for its own part to have decided that it's more important and urgent for us to "lean forward" against the source of those threats than to concern ourselves inordinately with shifting bids for regional power and influence within the World of Order.

    As most ETers know, I think Bush is right, but I don't think that very many people are squarely facing or are even aware of the stakes. Fear and uncertainty before events taking place on a global scale are natural, and I think that they're fueling world reaction to the Iraq situation more than any rational assessment of the particular issues involved. In this context, the political fates of Bush and Blair, among many others, are significant for what they symbolize, but, if these or any other leaders end up having to sacrifice their political careers in order to put their nations on irrevocable courses in pursuit of vital interests, it will be a small sacrifice indeed.

    As for the UN and these compliance benchmarks, it seems rather obvious that they're as much intended to be "final tests" of the UN Security Council's seriousness as tests of Iraqi compliance. From the US perspective, if the UNSC can't accept and act in accordance with the clear meaning of its own emphatically adopted resolutions, then it will have lost all meaning, utility, and legitimacy, at least for the foreseeable future. In that case, we can let the French and their cheering fans throw a non-stop mutual appreciation party. Maybe they'll even try to pass some empty and pointless resolutions against us. As long as things don't get TOO raucous, we can let them enjoy themselves for as long as they like - or at least until the grown-ups are done with more pressing business out of town.
  3. You get my vote for the most "well-read", and well written of all Elite members.

    Shall I give you a grade of 778?
  4. Excellent poll... I voted for #1, if backed up by a passed UN resolution for the imposition of serious consequences...
  5. msfe


    with Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice in charge there is no `international community´ - and Friedman´s article is nothing but the usual pointless NYT war propaganda.