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Fwd: NYTimes.com Article: Bush Left Scrambling to Press Case on Iraq
by Threehegemons
18 September 2002 15:23 UTC
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This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by swsystem@aol.com.

Yesterday on the radio I heard a number of Bush people insisting that they 
expected all along that Saddam would accede for demands for inspectors.  Which 
really makes you wonder once again what they even think they are doing, since 
this appears to be turning into a diplomatic fiasco.

Steven Sherman


Bush Left Scrambling to Press Case on Iraq

September 18, 2002


UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 17 - Just five days ago, President
Bush's strong appeal to the United Nations for collective
action on Iraq allayed world suspicion that the United
States was a go-it-alone superpower bent on war and forged
a broad consensus that Iraq must give up any weapons of
mass destruction or face the consequences. 

Now Iraq's sudden offer to readmit international weapons
inspectors has turned the world again, and left Mr. Bush
scrambling with mixed success to press his case for
disarming Iraq and dislodging Saddam Hussein as the next
milestone in his campaign against terrorism. 

In Washington today, Vice President Dick Cheney lobbied
Congress for swift action on a resolution authorizing force
against Iraq, and the Senate Democratic leader, Tom
Daschle, who had earlier said a debate might take a long
time, predicted a vote "well before the election." Asked
why, Mr. Daschle said that the administration had done much
of what Democrats wanted, by going to the United Nations
and consulting Congress, and that "now we are

But here in the Security Council, the hard work of
multilateralism was just beginning, and the diplomatic
lifting will be heavy. Russia, France and crucial Arab
allies all expressed skepticism about the need for a new
Security Council resolution in light of Iraq's offer,
despite Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's insistence
that "We've seen this game before." 

"What has changed in the last few days is not the letter
that came in yesterday," Secretary Powell said. "It's the
full will of the international community being directed to
this problem. And it is the international community,
through its agency, the United Nations and the Security
Council, that should make the judgment as to when, where,
if, under what set of circumstances and with what potential
consequences" Iraq must comply with a string of past United
Nations resolutions. 

The Bush administration showed not the slightest indication
to heed entreaties from Russia and France - each with veto
power over any Council resolution - and Arab countries to
take Iraq's offer at face value. Pressing his argument with
Americans, Mr. Bush set the tone by warning schoolchildren
in Tennessee, "You can't be fooled again." 

In short order, the White House released a detailed
chronology of Mr. Hussein's past obstruction of United
Nations efforts, including his repeated refusal to give
teams access to sites they sought to inspect. 

Kenneth Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings
Institution, said that by allowing the return of
inspectors, Mr. Hussein had effectively agreed to Security
Council resolution 1284 of December 1999, which sets a much
lower threshold for inspections than the Bush
administration would like. 

"We've really got our work cut out for us," Mr. Pollack
said. "I've always opposed going down the inspections
route, because at the end of the day, you are betting that
Saddam won't give in, and his past record always indicated
he would give in. What's so interesting now is that he's
given in at the ideal moment: really early, when it messes
us up." 

One State Department official acknowledged that any
significant delay at the United Nations could re-open
differences between Secretary Powell and administration
hawks led by Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld, who have been highly skeptical about the utility
of weapons inspectors. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are some who will use
this to point out the dangers of engaging multilaterally,"
the official said. 

For now, senior officials said they would keep up pressure
in foreign capitals and here in the Security Council to
follow up on Mr. Bush's demand for United Nations action,
and diplomats braced for a siege. 

"If I were on the Security Council, which I'm not, I would
in the next days sleep with my eyes open and the boots on,"
said the Danish foreign minister, Per Stig Moller, whose
country currently holds the presidency of the European

The administration was not completely surprised by Iraq's
offer, which had been rumored here for much of Monday and
drafted in part with the participation of Secretary General
Kofi Annan. Washington's initial response was swift,
skeptical and in sync, from the State Department to the
White House. 

But the early timing of Mr. Hussein's move nevertheless
seemed to take the administration a bit aback, and some
officials feared it could offer Russia, China and France an
opportunity to slow the process. 

That is particularly troublesome to those administration
officials who believe they have to get through the process
in a month or two because military action, if required,
would almost certainly have to take place in January or
February. Only then is it cool enough in the desert for
soldiers to wear full chemical and biological protective

"We built in some time for Saddam to play around with the
U.N.," one senior official said this week. "But not much
time, and we have to convince the rest of the Security
Council that the old timelines - 60 days for the inspectors
to `assess' what needs to be done - won't work." 

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who are to
discuss Iraq with Mr. Bush on Wednesday, rallied behind him
to bolster his hand in the United Nations. Mr. Daschle said
he was "still very skeptical about Saddam Hussein's intent
and position." 

Asked if he would support a resolution of force that calls
for a new Iraqi government, he said Democrats "have been
supportive of a regime change from the very beginning." 

Representative Richard A. Gephardt, the House Democratic
leader, said, "After 12 years of Saddam Hussein's defiance
of United Nations resolutions, his regime's new offer to
admit inspectors does not address my concerns about the
threat he poses to the United States and the international


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