Skip to comments.Analysis: Iraq - Diplomatic endgame nears
Posted on 10/09/2002 5:43:30 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
President Bush is moving towards the diplomatic endgame over Iraq - pressing for Congressional support for a possible invasion and for a Security Council decision on an ultimatum and threat to Saddam Hussein. By the end of next week he hopes to have his backing from Congress and the outlines at least of the demands the Council will make on Iraq.
George Bush is now committed to allowing the UN role play out one way or another even if he probably thinks that all ways lead to war.
But in an important passage in his speech to the American people on Monday night he did hold the door to peace open, saying that the "regime change" he is seeking in Iraq might be achieved if Saddam Hussein complies.
"The Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself," the president said.
Mr Bush thereby changed the definition of "regime change" from a change of regime to a change by the regime.
Meanwhile, there are hiccups along the way to the diplomatic endgame.
The CIA Director George Tenet has popped up to say that, if left alone, Saddam Hussein is unlikely to launch an attack on anyone.
His comments somewhat undermine the Bush administration's dire warnings and make selling the policy that much harder.
In his speech, Mr Bush had conjured up the image of a mushroom cloud if nothing was done.
And there has been argument within the Security Council about whether there should be one resolution or two.
The US and UK want just one - wrapping up ultimatum and threat together. France wants a split - warn Iraq in the first resolution and leave any threat to a second.
Mr Bush will insist on certain basic requirements in any UN resolution. He laid out three of them in his Cincinnati address:
-a declaration by Iraq on what weapons it is developing
-free and unfettered access by inspectors to all sites ability of the inspectors to take witnesses and their families abroad
-This last condition was stressed by the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in his evidence to the House Armed Service Committee on 18 September.
"Unless we have people inside the Iraqi programme who are willing to tell us what they have, it is easy for the Iraqi regime to hide its capabilities from us," said Mr Rumsfeld.
And it is not all plain sailing in Congress either.
A senior Senator, Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who is given to flourishing a copy of the US Constitution in any argument big or small, has said that Congress is being "stampeded" into a decision.
Enforce all resolutions
The Senate is now unlikely to vote until next week, with a vote in the House of Representatives this week.
In the House version, Mr Bush would be authorised to use military force to "defence the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and to "enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
A Senate version might make the use of force more clearly dependent on a failure by Iraq to comply with the Security Council conditions.
Either way, the final resolution will probably be enough to allow the President the freedom to go to war if Iraq, in his assessment, fails to carry out the UN instructions.
And, frankly, the administration does not think that Saddam Hussein will comply.
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