Friday, February 21, 2003

Jimmy Carter Unwittingly Makes the Case for War

Jimmy Carter has been taken to task for criticizing the Bush administration's position on Iraq, but ironically, his own words make the case for war. The only reason that he doesn't support a war against Iraq is that he either misunderstands or is ignorant of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.

In an interview with the Mirror, Carter states:

There has been a virtual declaration of war but a case for pre-emptive action against Iraq has not been made.
What Carter doesn't understand is that the resolution does not put the burden of proof on us to justify a pre-emptive war; it puts the burden on Saddam for a full disclosure of his weapons programs:
... the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material.
Moreover, the resolution states that this is Saddam's "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council." So the condition for compliance with the resolution is complete disclosure on Saddam's part, and the deadline is (was) October 8, 2002. Did Saddam meet this deadline?

He obviously has the capability and desire to build prohibited weapons and probably has some hidden in his country.
So even Carter realizes that Saddam has not complied with the resolution. The conclusion he should draw, then, is that "Iraq ... will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations." Instead he draws these conclusions:
We want Saddam Hussein to disarm but we want to achieve this through peaceful means.

But there is a growing consensus, among other countries at least, that we should let the UN inspectors do their thing first before we start a pre-emptive war against Iraq.
We have tried to disarm Iraq through peaceful means for years, and we have allowed the inspectors "to do their thing"--whatever that is--far past the deadline set by the resolution. The "growing consensus" in favor of ongoing inspections is the consensus we have had all along--and it is beginning to fall apart in favor of a pro-war consensus. In short, Carter thinks that the point of U.N. inspections is to contain Saddam by finding weapons or to provide justification for a "pre-emptive war." Resolution 1441, however, makes no such claim. In brief, it says:
  • Saddam is in breach of earlier resolutions.
  • He has one more chance to disclose his weapons programs.
  • If he does not, then he faces "serious consequences."
Continuing inspections are not serious consequences, because they are not consequences at all. Rather, they are the means of verification. Sanctions are serious consequences, but they are already in place--and much of the anti-war crowd resents them anyway. So what serious consequences are left? Are the Belgians going to throw waffles at Saddam? Will the French send a crack contingent of commando poodles headed by Sergeant Fifi to lift leg on Saddam's palace lawns?

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