Our View


President Bush’s speech to the United Nations a few days after the anniversary of September 11 was a stirring call to action. In just a few moments, the President made it clear that something must be done about Iraq if it continued to flaunt weapons inspectors.

The UN responded with support for Bush, telling him they would back the United States, but first asking Iraq once again if weapons inspectors would be allowed in.

To the surprise of many, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein said yes.

And now he has pulled a trick that he pulled many, many times before. He has said that weapons inspectors can be let in, but only where he wants them, making the whole initiative somewhat pointless.

The UN wants to have its weapons inspectors enter Iraq and be granted the right to look wherever they want, whenever they want for whatever they want. Hussein wants to restrict them to certain areas.

It is not immediately clear why Hussein has done something this bizarre. In effect, he is admitting that he is developing weapons of mass destruction. Before this, there was some doubt as to whether Iraq had capabilities to make nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Now, it appears certain that either Hussein is developing them or making idle promises just to anger the world community.

For whatever reason, Bush has been itching to attack Iraq for some time now. While there was never any completely compelling evidence to show that Iraq had the capability to make weapons of mass destruction or the funds to sponsor terrorists, Bush insisted they were both developing and sponsoring. His speech to the UN made it clear that something was fishy in Iraq, but never completely wiped away all doubts.

And now, Hussein has gone and done it for him. The world community will not tolerate Hussein’s games for much longer.

This, however, is a time for the world community to practice some much needed patience. A sudden and unprovoked attack on Iraq by the West could create a snowball that would roll inexorably towards a bigger and bigger war.

Iraq is in an always fragile area of the world. To strip it of the protection that Hussein offers is to create one more country that the U.S. must step in and protect. Bordering nations such as Iran may see Iraq as weak and try to pick up a piece of the pie for themselves. Long simmering tensions between nations may finally boil over into a war that the West will be drawn into slowly but surely.

The last thing President Bush or anyone wants is to be the one holding the key that started World War III.

Bush and the international community should try, for once, to practice economic sanctions against Iraq. While we have been doing this for years, perhaps it is time to tighten the vise grip just a little more to see if Hussein will budge.

War just doesn’t seem worth it at this point.