THE LANGUAGE OF DIPLOMACY can be deceiving. Take America and Great Britain’s newest proposed UN Security Resolution, which, on the face of it, seems dispassionate, even restrained, about the world’s standoff with Iraq.
The document speaks loftily about the council’s “recalling” and “noting” past resolutions, all the while being “mindful of its primary responsibility under the charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Translated from bureaucratic-speak to plain English, it reads:
OK, you feckless frogs and craven krauts, now’s the time to own up to your responsibilities, or else admit to the world once and for all that you’re nothing but a bunch of disingenuous, ungrateful weenies scarcely worthy of the freedom that British and American blood has purchased for you.
A frank message, to be sure, but one that’s long overdue.
The Bush–Blair tag-team was wise not to seek a direct authorization for the use of force, as none is necessary. That came with Resolution 1441, which sternly notified Iraq of its “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council” and warned of the “serious consequences” it would face “as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.”
It now seems hard to believe that Resolution 1441 passed through the Security Council with unanimous support only three months ago.
Its successor resolution asks only that the same council that backed 1441 in November have the intellectual consistency and the intestinal fortitude to commit itself to the very same requirements. It also calls on the council’s members to acknowledge the obvious: Saddam Hussein hasn’t lived up to his obligations under 1441 or, for that matter, any of the 13 resolutions that preceded it.
Reading between the lines again, it says:
Go ahead, you pitiful relics, you hollow shells of once-great nations. Rescind the very ultimatums you once issued. Admit that your word means nothing, your threats are empty, your business contracts with Iraq mean more to you than promoting freedom and human rights, ensuring the rule of law, or defending international security. We dare you to vote against this resolution, and with that, obliterate the precious little that remains of your credibility.
The French and the Germans—and, for that matter, the Russians and the Chinese—have no reasonable grounds from which to reject the new proposed resolution. Yet the Axis of Appeasement, for now anyway, continues in its inexplicable inconsistencies, its morally obtuse belief that Bush, and not Hussein is the real threat to world order. Its members argue that while they have no objection to the letter of the Bush–Blair resolution, it’s the spirit, they resent. They know that the rest of the world will interpret an official finding of Hussein’s “material breach” as a justification for liberating Iraq.
As French President Jacques Chirac put it, “We see no reason to change our logic, which is the logic of peace, and turn toward a logic of war.” But the logic of war isn’t some diplomatic ruse snuck into the proposed language, it’s the inexorable logic of common sense that the document—like Resolution 1441 before it—contains. That logic is simple: Hussein had his last chance. He has squandered it. “Serious consequences” are now due.
There’s no denying that Iraq is in material breach. There’s no denying that without Iraqi cooperation, inspections are a farce. The “logic of war” springs directly from these facts, which is why America’s weak-kneed “allies” want to wish them away. Old Europe’s leaders detest the new resolution before them because it exposes their fraudulence. It shows they went along with Resolution 1441 only to buy time for Hussein, not because they had any interest in ridding the world of the Iraqi menace, peaceably or otherwise.
Worse yet, they deceived and dissembled every inch of the way. Old Europe has never taken a resolute, pacifist position, which, however unwise, would at least be rooted in principle. Instead, its leaders insist that war can and must be a “last resort,” while refusing to acknowledge that every other resort is quickly expiring, if it hasn’t already.
Having rejected the logic of common sense, they offer the logic of appeasement. A French-German-Russian counterproposal recommends giving Hussein more time, even though the inspectors admit that more time won’t help without compliance. It also suggests establishing a “clear program of action for the inspections,” in other words, more concrete disarmament orders, never mind that he has already defied most every order to come his way.
How the logic of appeasement stands up to the logic of common sense will be a telling test of the Security Council in the coming weeks. But regardless of whether the Bush–Blair resolution prevails, the pretext for war will be laid, either because “the world community” will grudgingly sign on, or because by refusing to do so, it will have proved itself unfit for world leadership.