Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003 / 19 Shevat, 5763
We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The fog of war seems to have descended prematurely on Iraq. Pre-war's inevitably opaque diplomacy has turned downright duplicitous. The evening news shows seem to be raising the suspicion that waiting for the war may be like waiting for Godot (the title character who never appears in Samuel Beckett's existential play. Imagine Don Rumsfeld and Bill Kristol in the roles of Estragon and Vladimir -- the two characters who wait for the never-to-appear Godot).
While Saddam is playing his same old games, which fool no one, and while hundreds of thousands of American and British troops deploy to the impending war zone, the United Nations and its European allies blissfully prepare to intentionally let Saddam get away with it. We call them our European cousins -- but I demand a DNA test. They must be pod people.
Those of us reasonably grounded in reality are perplexed by the diplomatic and media worlds ignoring this Monday's report in London's most respected newspaper -- The Daily Telegraph -- that "U.N. weapons inspectors have uncovered evidence that proves Saddam Hussein is trying to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons." Documents that "had been hidden at the scientists' home on Saddam's personal orders ... are new and relate to ongoing work taking place in Iraq to develop nuclear weapons." The Telegraph went on to report that "Although Dr. Hans Blix, the head of the UN inspections team, was made aware of the discovery last week, he failed to mention it during talks with Tony Blair ... and Jacques Chirac ..."
Now, this is interesting on two counts. First, this fact is evidence of a stunning and central violation of Iraq's obligations under UN resolution 1441, which requires Iraq to fully and completely disclose all aspects of its nuclear weapons program, the omission of which "shall constitute a further material breach (paragraph 4 of resolution 1441)," which triggers the "serious consequences" provision (paragraph 13) of the resolution. According to David Key, former chief nuclear weapons inspector for the United Nations in Iraq, a "material breach is the Security Council's standard for measuring whether military force is required to compel disarmament."
Of course, realistic people expect Saddam to lie, cheat and be in violation of his disarmament obligations. But the Daily Telegraph story reveals a more alarming implication -- that Hans Blix, the United Nations Security Council, or both, are in violation of their own resolution 1441. Paragraph 11 of resolution 1441 "directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC (Hans Blix is the executive chairman) … to report immediately to the Council ... any failure of Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations." Paragraph 12 of resolution 1441 requires the Security Council itself "to convene immediately upon receipt of (such) a report." The Telegraph story reported that Hans Blix, though informed of the nuclear research find a week earlier, failed to mention it to the British prime minister and French president. While we don't know what private conversations have occurred between Blix and the Security Council, the fact that the Security Council has not "convened immediately" as required under its resolution 1441, paragraph 12, demonstrates that either Blix failed to report to them, or they failed to act -- both such actions required by their own resolution.
But this is merely the most recent, flagrant example of the Security Council, its employee Hans Blix, and its prominent members France and Germany willfully ignoring or mischaracterizing its obligations under resolution 1441, which it passed only last Nov. 8. Just two days ago, Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister speaking in the Security Council, turned resolution 1441 (which France voted for) on its head when he dismissed military action as a "dead end" and asserted that the mere presence of UN inspectors meant that Baghdad's weapons programs were "largely blocked or even frozen."
Of course, resolution 1441 states the opposite of that. The resolution starts out deploring the failure of past UN inspection efforts to gain Iraqi disarmament. It then goes on to itemize in detail what Iraq must positively do to avoid the serious consequences (i.e. military action). Obviously, words and national commitments have no meaning for France and the United Nations diplomats.
But through this sludge of diplomatic nonsense, M. de Villepin unintentionally and pricelessly encapsulated all we need to know about relying on France. While threatening to veto a military force authorization he observed: "France is a permanent member of the Security Council. It will shoulder all of its responsibilities faithful to all the principles it has."
Those principles shouldn't encumber France too much. French principles have been carefully crafted over the centuries to leave France free to be odious, cowardly, ungrateful, preening, greedy and untrustworthy -- as anyone who reads the newspaper can see on an almost daily basis. But that may be a sign of hope. Here's a bet: When it comes to it, France's greed for oil contracts will lead her to vote with us in the Security Council.
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01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth