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Jewish World Review Sept. 26, 2002 / 20 Tishrei, 5763

Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
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Calling a madman's number | So Saddam is ready to play the old shell game of inspections again. Why not? The man's a master at it, after all-now you see it, now you don't. All that's really happened here is that the madman gambler is ready to gamble again. Will the world's political determination eventually fade in the face of Saddam's endless obfuscations? He aims to find out. Saddam's bet might be a good one with much of the world. It flat-out won't fly with George W. Bush. Now that it's the president's turn with the dice, he has to roll a double six-and he's clearly itching at the opportunity.

The first six points are to meet the standards set out in the president's U.N. speech. They should be incorporated in a new resolution from America and its allies, making it clear that Saddam's failure to meet any of them is a ample cause for action. The resolution should be clear. Items: 1) the destruction of all of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; 2) an end to repression of the Iraqi people; 3) the return of foreign nationals imprisoned in Iraq after the Gulf War; 4) the end of Saddam's support for terrorist groups-like his recent attempts to provide weapons and financial aid to Palestinian terrorists in the hopes of diverting international attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict; 5) proper control of the money derived from the multibillion-dollar oil-for-food program so the funds can't be used to buy more weapons; and 6) a fixed timetable of days and weeks, not months or years.

Global apathy. The United Nations' history on Iraq is, to be blunt, dismaying. During the 1990s, the U.N. brought to the task roughly the same energy and enthusiasm as an English bobby dunning Jack the Ripper for back parking tickets. Saddam not only managed to hide his weapons programs but sought to rebuild them even as inspections were going on. In 1995, Saddam bought missile-guidance systems and then tried to avoid their detection by throwing them into the Tigris River when he was found out.

The second six imperatives are to end all this evasion: 1) the inspectors must be able to follow their suspicions anywhere-including into the 1,000 buildings Saddam has designated as off-limits "presidential palace" sites; 2) inspectors must be able to operate simultaneously in different parts of the country; 3) they must have access to sites, documents, and individuals without debate; 4) no harassment of informants; 5) the team must have the right to interview Saddam's scientists and grant them asylum in exchange for information; and 6) inspectors must have authority to call for requisite force to deal with any obstruction at once and without additional approval from the U.N. or the Security Council.

The best available evidence why all this must happen was marshaled recently by London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. Its experts concluded that the scientific and technical expertise of Iraq's scientists survived past U.N. inspection programs. They also retained virtually the entire design of a nuclear device-and the production techniques. All they lacked was the necessary fissile materials. Iraq also retained extensive capacity for biological warfare and a small force of ballistic missiles with a range of 650 kilometers.

Why is Saddam doing all this? Well, for one thing, he's a megalomaniac of the first order. Saddam's delusional vision of himself as a latter-day Saladin has cost him, among other things, almost $200 billion in lost oil revenue, all to advance his ambitions to dominate Persian Gulf oil resources and achieve unchallenged leadership in the Arab world. Advocates of delay in dealing with Saddam risk making him more, not less, of a threat. As former Secretary of State George Shultz pointed out, it is naive to think that it will be easier to deal with him later when he is better equipped than he is now. In the chilling words of Henry Kissinger, we will then be confronted with an Iraqi "doomsday machine." Time is our enemy-and Saddam's ally.

Beyond the diplomatic dance at the U.N, there is one simple fact: As long as Saddam Hussein is in charge, the world can never rest easy. Translation: Eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and effecting a regime change in Baghdad are just two sides to the same coin.

President Bush seeks not just a resolution from the United Nations but a congressional declaration of support. The Democrats spent the summer asking for a dialogue on the issue, and when Bush gave them one, they said, Oh, let's postpone it till after the election. Clearly, this was untenable. Now the Democrats talk of an equally untenable resolution, one without teeth. This is no way for Congress to show the lead to the U.N.

George W. Bush's father went to war in 1991 with Saddam Hussein to protect our oil supplies. Now the son may have to go to war to protect our lives. In this he deserves our full and unwavering support.

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JWR contributor Mort Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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© 2001, Mortimer Zuckerman