by Kim Petersen
March 8, 2003
The UK portrayed the hawks as making a concession when they agreed to a new deadline of 17 March for Iraqi disarmament. To depict this as a concession is nonsense. International security correspondent Paul Rogers wrote in mid-February that all the pieces of war wouldn’t be in place until about the middle of March. Strategically the launching of an attack would most likely take place on 25 March. (1)
So this is no concession and surely France, Russia, Germany, and China are aware of this. Diplomatic niceties preclude mention of such a thing. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin did, however, say of the British amendment: “We don't accept this logic.” (2)
This is a deadline which falls quite a bit short of the time that UNMOVIC Chief Hans Blix said is required. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair offered the inspectors a colossal ten days more but Mr. Blix declared that: "It will not take years, nor weeks, but months." (3)
Mr. Bush declaimed that the inspectors were not receiving full co-operation of the Iraqi regime, something that Mr. Blix gainsaid when he stated that co-operation was now "active or even proactive." (4)
Yet Mr. Bush, the same man who along with Mr. Blair demanded that President Saddam Hussein let the inspectors in, in an astounding self-contradiction called into the question the efficacy of the inspections. Mr. Bush asserted that, according to the now less-than-vaunted US intelligence, Iraq was rearming as its was being disarmed.
He further claimed that Iraqi scientists, being interviewed by UNMOVIC, were surreptitiously being recorded by Iraqi intelligence by concealed recording devices. This is obviously bluster only for show as counter espionage measures could easily be effected so that interviewees are physically searched and the premises are debugged. Bugging would certainly constitute non-cooperation and a material breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. If the US had true evidence of such then they would have presented it.
In his speech before the compliant media on 7 February, Mr. Bush summed it up as: “The world needs him to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441 or has it not?” This is disingenuous. There was no timetable laid out in Resolution 1441. Truly the question should be: “Is the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarming as required by Resolution 1441 or not?”
France, Germany, Russia, and China see no need for a second resolution. China, the least vehement of the veto-wielding UN Security Council doves, through its Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan contended: “Much progress has been made in the weapons inspections thanks to the unremitting efforts of UNMOVIC and IAEA.” (5)
This is denied by Mr. Bush who pontificated: “Saddam Hussein is not disarming. This is a fact. It cannot be denied.” In the rhetoric of Mr. Bush it is Mr. Hussein who must disarm not Iraq. Mr. Bush is not known for his refined speech but in this case he is certainly playing to the US media. He might further be playing to the home audience when he inaccurately stated: “The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council: total disarmament.” There is no call for a total disarmament of Iraq. Iraq is required to disarm of weapons of mass destruction and longer-range missiles.
A short deadline is what the UN Security Council hawks seek. Although the US and UK maintain that a second resolution is not needed, a second resolution would make things easier. It would provide the guise under which an invasion could be launched. It seeks to placate much of the anti-war sentiment calling for a second resolution.
Even though Mr. Bush said that he prays for peace, it is a peace predicated upon regime change. That is the only way the hawks can halt the war machine. (6) Mr. Rogers is much less than optimistic. He wrote: “The war is going to happen. Given the absolute determination of people such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, it is going to be very difficult to stop it.” (7)
Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Paul Rogers, “War by timetable,” openDemocracy, 19 February 2003: http://opendemocracy.com/debates/article.jsp?id=2&debateId=89&articleId=989