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Thursday, February 6, 2003

'A deadline helps concentrate the mind.'

The liberal Boston Globe believes that Colin Powell presented a compelling case for U.N.-sponsored military action against Iraq. "[T]he Iraqi people, the region, and the world would be a better, safer, more humane place with Saddam disarmed or out of power," the Globe says — adding that the costs of disarming Iraq can only effectively be borne by the international community. The U.S. cannot take on Iraq alone.

There comes a point when inspections cannot simply go on and on. An uncooperative nation can play cat-and-mouse with U.N. inspectors indefinitely — just as Iraq has done for years. But as the Globe pointed out last week, even France is quietly moving into position to assist military action. Even the Europeans most reluctant to act apparently see the need for a deadline.

As awful as war is, opponents of military action have lost this round. Congress has already approved military action. The U.N. has already told Iraq that it must comply or face "serious consequences." Only if the Security Council raises substantial doubts about the case Powell presented yesterday about Iraqi non-compliance are there grounds for the U.N. to "give inspections more time."

Time's up.

The inspectors' report later this month will be the last. At this point, responsible liberals ought to turn their attention toward insuring four outcomes:

  • International commitment to minimize the humanitarian catastrophe of war and to insure Iraq's successful reconstruction after the war.
  • Improved security for Afghanistan. After all, the war with al Qaeda isn't over. Hamid Karzi's government still needs tremendous support from the rest of the world. Critics are right to ask, What about Osama bin Laden?
  • Democratic and economic reforms in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This requires U.S. support for resolving tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Electing a Democrat in 2004. Bush's foreign policy achievements are coming at an extraordinary price. Liberals must come up with a viable foreign policy that provides real security. They must stop letting Republicans dominate military and foreign policy discussions; it isn't just about the economy.

Meanwhile, religious people are confronted by the fact that even our best options in this situation are evil. I see no way around this. (Leaving Saddam alone would be evil; maintaining the sanctions would be evil; what option would not be? We must choose.) I pray not only for the victims of our continued human failure to establish real peace, but also for insight and courage. There is a long road ahead in the effort to guarantee the human rights of all our brothers and sisters.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 6 February 2003 at 9:05 AM

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