Friday, November 15, 2002
Apologies for not posting in a while. I've been very busy at work.
Some quick thoughts about Iraq and the UN: I feel like the same story gets repeatedly reiterated over and over. We're once again having an argument about who is the fox, Bush or Saddam. Did Bush cleverly maneuver the UN into the US's court, so that now we will have international support to clean up the Iraq problem, or did Bush get maneuvered by Saddam Hussein's friends at the UN into giving the UN a veto on military action? It seems to me the answer to this question comes down to Bush's character: does he intend to eliminate the problem posed by Saddam's regime or does he intend to sacrifice that goal if it looks expedient to do so? In 1998, the Clinton Administration took the latter view. They were all ready for a war in Iraq, and they backed down because Kofi Annan said he was satisfied with Iraq's commitments to comply. Does this show that Iraq outmaneuvered the US? No, it shows that Clinton really didn't want war, and was looking for an excuse to avoid one. The question that is still open - and we have to say this, given the facts so far - is: does President Bush want to solve decisively the Iraq problem, or does he want to appear to have solved it? If the former, the UN cannot stop us - legally, we have the right to take unilateral action, and practically, the UN does not want to become irrelevant, which is what would happen if the US defied it. If he is willing to be satisfied with the appearance of a solution, then Iraq will win, because Saddam is the master at providing such appearances.
I don't know where the optimists about Bush get their optimism. I also don't know where the pessimists get their pessimism. It seems to me that this is the big character test we've been building towards, where we find out whether Hal has really become Henry V. After this winter, it will be much harder to disagree about the President's character.