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You can say that again

The New York Times' editors keep trying to create opposition to an attack on Iraq, complaining repeatedly that nobody will explain to them why such an attack would be a good idea. (Though, as Jack Shafer explains in Slate, if they were really interested in learning more about the subject, they could just ask the people who keep leaking strategy stories to them.) Well, perhaps the Times' editors should read the editorial page of the Washington Post, which explains, clearly and succinctly, why Iraq needs to be dealt with:

Much of the recent debate about possible U.S. military action against Iraq has centered on the propriety of a "preemptive strike," as if more than a decade of history counted for nothing. In fact, the legal, moral and practical grounds for action against Saddam Hussein have their roots back in 1990, and they are not relevant to the United States alone. Saddam Hussein sent his army into the sovereign nation of Kuwait; a broad coalition, led by the United States, resolved that such lawlessness could not stand; Saddam Hussein refused to back down, fought a war and lost. As one condition for maintaining his power in defeat, the dictator promised the U.N. Security Council that he would rid Iraq of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the missiles that can deliver them. He promised also to allow the United Nations to see for itself that he had complied.

Today no one other than Saddam Hussein and his toady ministers would claim that he has fulfilled these promises. His refusal to disarm and his brazen flouting of U.N. resolutions are slaps not at the United States but at every nation that claims to value international law and the U.N. system. Yet month after month, year after year, those nations, along with U.N. leaders, have been willing to tolerate his lawlessness. U.S. allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East that routinely oppose military action also routinely say they will insist on robust inspection. Well, yesterday they got an answer, the same one they've been receiving for a long time. Now what?

It's true that Saddam Hussein isn't the only evil tyrant in the world. He's not even the sole tyrant seeking or possessing weapons of mass destruction. Neither the United States nor the United Nations can or should contemplate military action against every such tyrant who might qualify for membership in the axis of evil. But Saddam Hussein is in a class of his own, and not only because he has hideously used chemical weapons against his own people and others. The world already has considered his case and formed a judgment. If nations prove incapable of enforcing that judgment, the harm will spread far beyond the Middle East.

Not that I expect this to convince the Times. But when the Post, no friend to the Bush administration, gets it, you have to wonder why the Times doesn't.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 14, 2002 5:29 AM.

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