THE LATEST, clearest, example of willful blindness on the part of the pro-Saddam left comes from the New York Times editorial page, which professes to believe "more time is warranted to determine whether Iraq’s dismantlement of missiles is a signal that Mr. Hussein is reconsidering his stubborn defiance of the United Nations."
It’s hard to imagine that such a statement could be sincere. Do the Times editorialists really think that after a lifetime of thuggery and butchery, followed by four months of continued deceit despite staring down the barrel of a gun, Hussein might suddenly have become an international man of peace?
For an answer, they need only consult Hussein’s scientific adviser, Lieutenant General Amer al-Saadi, who says Iraq doesn’t consider giving up some 120 Al Samoud 2 missiles to be much of a setback. "It is not a decisive factor," Saadi told reporters at a recent press conference. "Sacrificing it is a calculated operation."
That is, running a bulldozer over a handful of surface-to-surface missiles is a cheap price to pay to keep US forces out of the Baghdad a little while longer, if not indefinitely, at least long enough to delay a war until the summer months, when its execution gets exponentially more difficult. (In a characteristically clever stroke, Hussein first rejected UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix’s order to destroy the missiles, waiting until almost the end of Blix’s declared deadline, thereby buying as much time as possible.)
Especially helpful for Iraq is the timeline it has set up for destroying the missiles. At the rate of about a half-dozen a day, the process could drag on for the better part of a month, leaving the Axis of Appeasement to cluck-cluck all the while about whether it’s seen "a signal" that Hussein has changed his ways.
Best of all, Hussein now threatens to bring his snail-paced disarmament to a halt should the U.S. continue stepping up preparations of war. "If it turns out at an early stage during this month that America is not going the legal way, then why should we continue," asks Saadi. Thus, if and when Hussein takes a break from his Al Samoud 2 dog-and-pony show, the international chattering class can be expected to initiate a heated debate as to whether he’s not cooperating because he’s a lout, or because the he’s been intimidated by the big, bad, bullying Americans.
Does anyone care to guess which side of that debate the New York Times editorial page would take?
Chalk it up as yet one more example of how Hussein has made the UN the most effective weapon in his arsenal. His performance could be described as masterful, except that taking advantage of disturbed, willing victims isn’t masterful, it’s sad.
The appeasement-minded members of the Security Council seem to take perverse pleasure in letting Hussein use them so nakedly. So short is old Europe on credibility that it’s resorted to echoing the talking points distributed by Syria, a junior partner in the Axis of Evil, to make the laughable claim that Saddam may be a new man—after all, look at all his good deeds on the missiles! (And forget that after three months’ trolling around Iraq, Blix still describes Hussein’s efforts at cooperation as "very limited.")
But at this point, no one outside of Baghdad seriously argues that the Iraqi threat might really be defanged by way of inspections. Nowadays, opponents of the next phase in the War on Terror oppose just to oppose, without so much as bothering to devise some sort of intellectual justification for their opposition, let alone an alternate strategy for dealing with the problems at hand. To its credit, Russia alone has been more forthright about its motivations. As Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper house of the Russian legislature, told the Washington Times, "There is an $8 billion state debt owed by Iraq to Russia, we have serious oil interests, and the Iraqi market is a major buyer of Russian goods."
If only France would be so candid about its Iraqi interests.
This is who the U.S. must deal with in the UN—morally bankrupt states that crib their platitudes from Syria and invest their money in Saddam & Co.
Yet, amazingly, the UN is now widely held to be the arbiter of international morality. Democrats, peaceniks, the mainstream media establishment, even the Vatican (which should know better in light of its own tussles with the UN on matters of feminism and "family planning"), all make the insupportable claim that the UN alone determines when a war is just. A solid number of Americans, according to most polls, seem to agree.
Even Iraq has joined the pro-UN chorus. Remember Saadi’s threat that Baghdad would suspend destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles "if America is not going the legal way"—i.e., if the U.S. prepares for war without the Security Council’s blessing. Apparently Saddam has developed a sudden affection for the niceties of international protocols.
Expect the New York Times to editorialize on the matte again some time soon.