TCS Daily

'An Unbiased Jury'

By Dale Franks - February 6, 2003 12:00 AM

Secretary of State Colin Powell has now laid out convincing, irrefutable evidence that Iraq is systematically deceiving UN weapons inspectors. Secretary Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council offered compelling proof of Iraqi intransigence, taken from technical as well as human intelligence sources. The UN Security council heard tapes of Iraqi military personnel discussing plans to hide evidence of their WMD program from UN inspectors as recently as last week. Satellite images of work at chemical and biological weapons storage bunkers were shown. Statements from Iraqi defectors were presented that indicate Iraq is hiding forbidden WMD munitions in the country's western desert. Secretary Powell also provided additional information about Saddam Hussein's contacts with - and offers of training to - the Al-Qaeda terror organization.

Some of the president's domestic political foes were impressed by the presentation. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) characterized the evidence presented by Secretary Powell as "the most comprehensive case [against Iraq] I've heard." and noted that failure to act by the UN Security Council would reduce it to irrelevance, saying, "What's really necessary is for the Security Council to face up to its obligations." Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) opined that if he had given the presentation to an unbiased jury, he was certain he would have obtained a conviction.

Unfortunately, the key words of Senator Biden's statement - "an unbiased jury" - appear not to describe the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Tang Jiaxuan, China's foreign minister, said, "As long as there is still the slightest hope for political settlement, we should exert our utmost effort to achieve that," adding that the weapons inspectors should continue their work. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that he had listened closely to Powell's presentation, but believed more study and analysis was needed. In the meantime, inspections "must be continued." Ambassador Dominique de Villepin of France allowed that the Iraqi behavior was "disturbing" but he said that war should be a last resort, and urged the UN to provide more resources to the UN inspectors.

So, after listening for an hour and a half to evidence of a concerted effort on Iraq's part to obfuscate, delay, and deceive the UN weapons inspectors, the response of France, Russia, and China was that inspections must continue. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Security Council will do nothing about Iraq's WMD programs, other than to call for a continuation of the same inspection regime that the Iraqis have been so successful at deceiving.

That is not a solution.

The purpose of the UN is not to serve as a polite debating society where bloodthirsty dictators can air their views in an atmosphere of courteous attention. Its purpose is to provide collective security for its members by opposing, and, if necessary, destroying those regimes which are bent on a policy of aggression. But there is no rational reason for any nation to remain part of a collective security organization that has no real ability to provide it.

In the 1930s, the League of Nations was presented with the challenge of responding to the rise of aggressive fascism in Germany and Italy. When its impotence at doing so became clear, the League collapsed under the weight of its own uselessness. By failing to act against Iraq now that its treachery has become crystal clear, the UN will take a long step towards going the way of the League of Nations.

If the UN Security Council can remain unmoved after listening to Secretary Powell's presentation, then it is evident that no amount of evidence will convince them of the need to move quickly and decisively on Iraq. If the UN has its way, Iraq will continue to evade the inspections, continue to build weapons of mass destruction, and continue to imprison, torture, and kill its own citizens. And, of course, no doubt, if the day ever comes when Iraq provides chemical or biological weapons to terrorists who use them to launch another 9/11-style attack against us, the members of the UN Security Council will tender appropriate expressions of sympathy to the American people.

Fortunately, it appears that the UN Security Council will not get its way in Iraq. While they dither irrelevantly with the Iraqis over the precise terms for a "strengthened" inspections regime, President Bush will mobilize our current 40-nation "coalition of the willing", and move decisively on Iraq.

This is precisely the correct course for the United States to take. If we are ever to be sure that Iraq has been disarmed, and poses no more serious threat to its neighbors, or to the United States, then the government of Saddam Hussein must be overthrown.

The time for inspections, evasions, and deceit has ended. The time for reckoning has begun.

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