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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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2/08/2003

IRAQ: Fast Dash or Slow Roll


Assuming just for an instant that the French and the Germans have not managed to convince Saddam to allow the UN to invade under the guise of peacekeeping - a fair assumption I'd say - here is a fairly good guide to the decisions facing the American forces.

It would be a pretty terrifying few days in Baghdad either way but my sense is that the possiblity of Iraqi chemical and bio weapons will tilt the operation towards the fast dash. As well, in order to justify this war the Brits and Americans are going to have to seize chemicals and bio material. (Which is a good thing in itself but will be politically critical.) At the moment there seems to be a buzz that there are special forces people in a position to do just that very early in the war.

Perfect

"Germany and France have reportedly proposed a plan involving sending UN troops to Iraq, to prevent war in Iraq.

A spokesman for the German Government has confirmed that France and Germany are considering a plan together for a peaceful alternative means of disarming Iraq.

He did not go into details but his statement came after a report was released by the news magazine der Spiegel, which said the Franco German plan proposed sending UN troops to Iraq for one year to support a beefed up team of UN weapons inspectors.

German troops would also be part of the force.

The plan would envisage the whole of Iraq being declared a no-fly zone, as well as tightening the sanctions regime on exports to Iraq."

Now this would be delightful....OK Saddam...You can be invaded by those big, ugly efficient Americans and Brits or you can have first rate German and French troops under the UN flag. Peacekeeping we'll call it...

Saddam would be a fool to turn down the offer. Now he could keep playing the deception game for another year secure in the knowledge that he'd have at least two years before any severe consquences - or any at all - would land on his head.

But, and I think this is what will happen, the plan will be proposed and, after a bit of negotiating, Saddam will turn it down as potentially likely to begin to unravel his game. At that point France and Germany can say they've tried and fall in behind the US.


Who should be Talking

Rex Murphy can be unbelievably irritating; but he also can cut to the chase.

"I have only one difficulty with Mr. Powell's presentation: It should never have been made.

The wrong person, from the wrong country, stood in the UN making a case about Iraq's weapons and Iraq's compliance. If there is any persuading to be done here, it surely has to be done by Iraq. And if there are any UN member states that insist on demonstrations of proof about the honesty of Iraq's compliance with Resolution 1441, then surely it is Iraq, not the U.S., that bears the primary burden of response."

As the Germans and French get entangled in tripling the number of inspectors and putting in peacekeepers - as if - perhaps Our Lady Peace at External Affairs could take Murphy's position an introduce a resolution before the General Assembly - rather than the Security Council - demanding that Iraq attend and be examined on its compliance with each of the resolutions the UN has passed. As if.


Buzz words and polls

"The pollsters also asked a random sample of 1,000 Canadian adults whether they approved or disapproved of the United States taking unilateral military action to remove Iraqi President Hussein from power."

Big surprise, 67% said they disapproved.

So, what would happen if we asked this question "Would you approve or disapprove of nations taking military action in support of UN Resolution 1441?"

Want to bet we could get 67% approving?

Why public opinion even matters at this point baffles me. The issue is one which the public, simply because it does not have access to the intelligence, really cannot make an informed decision on. Which means the government will have to make that decision and submit to the voter's judgement after the fact.


2/07/2003

Salon.com | The Salon Interview: Camille Paglia

"Of course some of these hawks would say, "Who cares if the Saudi regime falls -- they're corrupt and their society breeds terrorism and they're not trustworthy allies."

Yes, but who's going to take over Arabia -- the strongest alternative is the radical Muslims. What if Egypt goes? The dream of the radical Islamic movement is to topple all of the secular, pro-West governments in the Middle East. Americans may say, "Oh, that can never happen." Well, yes it can -- because of the discipline and rigor of these radical, self-contained belief systems."

Now the last time we heard this sort of chat was from 50's and early sixties policy wonks who could prove that the fall of Saigon was the sure signal that LA would turn commie just as soon as the dominos all lined up.

Substitute South Viet Nam for Arabia and Communist for Islamic and you could be a Bundy - no not Al.


Paglia on No-War (via Andrew Sullivan)

"We don't need to invade Iraq. Saddam can be bottled up with aggressive surveillance and pinpoint airstrikes on military installations."

Unfortunately this is a fairly common position. It might well work if the threat was merely as dangerous as Hitler in 1939. Because, despite Paglia's rather lame comparison of Hitler with Saddam,

"There's just no way that Saddam's threat is equal to that of Hitler leading up to World War II. Hitler had amassed an enormous military machine and was actively seeking world domination."

Saddam's apparent lack of desire to conquer the world would not really matter if his anthrax or his, still unproven, smallpox got loose. A really raging epidemic of weaponized smallpox could solve any number of Middle Eastern problems by wiping out a good half of the population. And it would not likely be the Israelis who would bear the brunt of it; rather the third world medical systems of Egypt, Iran and most of all the Palestinian Authority would collapse under the stress. Literally millions would die. And that is before the biological spread to Europe and North America.

While Saddam's ambitions may be rather smaller, his lethality is incomparably greater.

Liberal values in Old Europe

John Lloyds valuable piece in today's Globe recognizes Blair's willingness to take a principled stand beside the Americans and against both terrorism and Iraq. His quotation from Michael Ignatieff - promoted to philosopher from his usual journalist and historian for the occasion is apt:

"We are faced with an enemy whose demands cannot be appeased and who does not have to win in order for us to lose. Our police, military and intelligence agencies may succeed in detecting, deterring or pre-empting 99 potential attacks. But if the enemy possesses chemical, radiological, bacteriological or nuclear weapons, they only have to succeed once. If our enemies do secure these capabilities, they could force us into a permanent war . . . we could lose."

Lloyd's point is that the Old Europe has to acknowledge the stakes. To endorse liberal values, to embrace the Enlightenment which Europe produced. It is an open question as to whether the Germans or the French still have the courage of those grand convictions.

Rumsfeld and the Germans

There is nothing more bracing than the truth and the German media reacted predictably when Rumsfeld pointed out the company they are keeping on the Iraq issue. No one likes to be compared to Cuba and Libya.

However, Berlin's Die Welt gets the point:

Only one major paper - Berlin's Die Welt - shows some understanding for the Rumsfeld comments. "Outrageous, but true", it says.

It warns of even worse to come if Germany votes against a possible second UN resolution on Iraq.

"Berlin's plunge into the company of pariahs, thieves and the usual suspects for anti-American activities would be complete."


2/06/2003

Coming Clean

Mr. Powell said earlier on CBS-TV that only a substantive change in policy by President Saddam Hussein could now avert war, "not just another way to play cat-and-mouse with the inspectors."

"So, in my judgment," he added, "it will not be enough for him to simply say, `Okay, I'll now start to allow the U-2 flights' that inspectors want in support of their ground efforts.

"He needs to come clean."

Which is exactly what Saddam will not do. Which France and Germany and Russia all very well know. Time to fish or cut bait.



Hard Power

Robert Kagan's very influential article on the essential difference between Europe and America, Power and Weakness published in Policy Review last year has been spun into a book. One which I would like to review.

James Rubin's review makes the essential point that while the military might of America is enormous, her real power may well come from her ideals.

"When we promote democracy and human rights, when we respect civil rights and the rule of law, when we’re generous to Europe and Asia, as we were after World War II, when we show respect for the little guy all over the world, that’s when our power differs from that of the British and the Romans before us. American power doesn’t just come out of the barrel of the gun."

It is worth remembering.

2/05/2003

The end of Language as we know it

Russell Smith takes on the role of the Canadian Safire. On language at least...

"Okay. Fine. In which case the phrase "a canine dog" will soon come to be an acceptable replacement for "a police dog." I first heard this while watching Cops,and have no doubt that the global reach and power of American television will ensure that the virus is soon transmitted to standard English. It evolves this way: U.S. police departments have tracker dog units that they call, quite logically, canine units. So everything that comes from that unit acquires that adjective. An officer from the unit is called a canine officer, a car a canine car. So it wasn't long before officers forgot what the word meant and started calling their dogs canine dogs. I can only hope they are consistent, and refer to lupine wolves and vulpine foxes."

The UN, France and Iraq

This article by David Malone is the reason why comment sections are so valuable in newspapers. A former Canadian ambassaddor to the United Naitons, Malone understands the dynamic of the Security Council and the need to move nations without bullying them.

So does Bush and so, most importantly, does Powell.

French Plan

"Mr. de Villepin said the council should work with the chief inspectors to find ways to strengthen their mission.

"Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors. Let us open more regional offices. Let us go further than this. Could we not, for example, put up, set up, a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas that have already been inspected? Let us very significantly reinforce the capacity for monitoring and collecting information in Iraq," he said.

The glory of this plan is that, when push comes to shove, the Iraqis will never buy it. They can keep the current inspectors at bay; but with three or five times as many the deception would begin to collapse.

The end game would be the UN passing a very quick resolution authorizing a rigorous, full on inspection program and have that done before Blix goes to Baghdad this weekend. Blix says to the Iraqis, starting Monday we are going to be flying 500 inspectors a day into locations of our choice. There will be no minders. U2 flights start when I leave today. Sign here to indicate your acceptence. You have ten minutes."

The Iraqis will not agree and the second resolution will have the effect of bringing the French et al on board. Now I wonder if the French are worth the powder; but a bit of paper should not be a problem.

The other thing which might be worth doing, if the Americans know where a single weapons cache is, would be to take the cache by force and then hold the position until the inspectors could get there.






CNN.com - Iraq: Powell evidence untrue

"Al-Sa'adi said the recordings of conversations between Iraqi military officers that Powell said backed up the U.S. stance could have been manufactured by "any third-rate intelligence outfit," and satellite photographs Powell presented "proved nothing."

Now this is a surprise.

Let's bring on a resolution which does what the French want - really beef up the inspections. How could Iraq object? After all the might of the American Intelligence community has had to cook up the voice recordings and the satellites are just taking ambiguous pics...What has Iraq got to worry about?

Straw: Saddam faces moment of choice

"Speaking to the UN security council in the wake of US secretary of state Colin Powell's address, Mr Straw said that Iraq's deceit on weapons of mass destruction had been "laid bare".

He said Mr Powell's 70-minute speech had exposed Iraq's lack of cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.

"The truth is that, however strong the inspectors' powers, without cooperation they could never be sure of finding all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction," Mr Straw added.

"Saddam Hussein is defying the will of every nation represented here. He is gambling that we will lose our nerve rather than enforce our will."

Which the French immediately proceeded to do....

"French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin said weapons inspections should be strengthened, with a full-time monitor overseeing the process in Baghdad.

Describing the use of force against Iraq as something that "can only be a final recourse", he insisted: "We must move on to a new stage and further strengthen the inspections.

"Given the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime which is inadequate because of a failure to cooperate on Iraq's part, we must choose the decisive reinforcement of the means of inspection. This is today what France is proposing."

At this point the best way to deal with the French - and to a lesser degree the Russians and Chinese - is to agree completely that there must be a "decisive reinforcement of the means of inspection". Which would include at least the following:

1. Dispatching many more - say 3000 inspectors as well as a full on security force - call them the UN Bailiffs - to secure every possible location of documents relating to weapons.

2. The creation of a force which would enforce roadblocks to search every vehicle in suspected areas.

3. The creation of a capacity to lock down sectors of Baghdad for full scale house to house searches.

4. The requirement that the scientists the West wishes to speak to are a) accounted for, b) interviewed in private.

5. The elimination of all Iraqi "minders".

6. The immediate construction of a communications secure facility - which could be a lead lined Atco trailer - for the inspectors.

7. Inspections planned and carried out where the inspectors themselves are not told where they are going - this to prevent any leaks at all.

Such a re-enforcement would, of course, be tantamount to invasion and it probably would not actually satisfy the French; but it would force Saddam's hand.

The inspectors are useful only in the sense they keep Saddam off balance. Pushing harder and harder will make the job of concealing the WMDs that much more difficult and, with luck, the deception will begin to fray around the edges.

Kicking down the doors is really the only thing which will produce the smoking gun. Polite is not cutting it.


Ipse Dixit - Schroeder Greenmailed

"Schroeder's opposition to war in Iraq enabled him to enlist the assistance of the Greens to beat back a conservative challenge to his Chancellorship a few months ago. His tax hikes aren't helping, but any hope he had that Iraq would distract the voters from the body blow they dealt the German economy was pretty well dashed over the weekend. Even Lower Saxony, his home region, voted for the opposition.* .
Schroeder, who campaigned strongly against the war in his successful election campaign last September, has gone further than any European leader, saying repeatedly that Germany would not participate in a war even if the UN approved one....

While the subtlety has been lost on many here, the position Schroeder has staked out differs from that of the French, with whom Germany has seemed to be aligned. The French have left open the possibility that they would participate in a war eventually if it were approved by the Security Council.

Opposition party leaders in Germany said Monday that they would seek to further two objectives: one to have Germany adopt the French position and second to show German public opinion that Iraq is a real threat."

Dodd's points, via Instapundit, are exactly what needs to happen in Germany. Though I suspect the Christian Democrats will be a little more ambitious than merely trying to move up to the French "position".

Intelligence Test

Reading the Powell presentation to the Security Council the nature of the problem he faces is apparent.

You have to be fairly smart to understand an argument by inference. Powell does not have, or will not show, pictures of people in chemical weapons suits rushing around burying containers with a skull and cross bones and a big sign saying POISON on them. The Iraqis have not managed a clandestine weapons program for ten years by making mistakes like that.

So now the question is whether or not the members of the Security Council and the people of the nations they represent will be smart enough to understand the sorts of perfectly legitimate, but subtle, evidence he is presenting.

My bet is that until the inspectors report again on Valentine's Day, the French - from whom, apparently Our Lady of Peace at External Affiars in Canada takes his marching, or rather sitting, orders - will not accept Powell's evidence. Or, rather they will accept it unofficially because their own intelligence services are telling them exactly the same thing, but will not acknowledge the violation of 1441 officially. For the French, and the less important Germans, this has more to do with domestic politics than the strength of Powell's argument.

However, if the inspectors' next report confirms what Powell is saying today, or is at least consistent with it then a French veto of a second resolution is unlikely. Which is not, of course, the same as a favourable vote or, a troop commitment.

Canada does not have a veto - though we did a hell of lot more in WWII than the largely collaborationist French did - and I suspect our reponse will reflect the realities of our current Liberal leadership race more than any appreciation of the intelligence Powell presented.

In Canada look for Our Lady to be tugged between the wannabe old Europeans on the left of the Liberal Party - think Sheila Copps but only for a second for your own peace of mind - and the old and new right - Paul Martin for the wrinklies, John Manley for the slicks.

It is a double cleavage: the left will want to be seen supporting the UN as a talking, not fighting, organization. And they will want to make their anti-American credentials plain. On the right there will be pro-American Liberals who will want to support our ally regardless of the UN and there will be anti-Americans who want to disarm Saddam for policy goals ranging from Middle Eastern Peace through a desire not to have anthrax in their daily mail and on out to supporting the UN as a fighting as well as talking shop.

Most of all, the leadership hopefuls have to create meaningful distance between their positions and Paul Martin's relatively pro-American, pro-war stance. This has nothing to do with the electorate, rather it has to do with winning the votes of the relatively few, but very activist, leadership convention delegates who are not already in Martin's bag. As a group these activists will tend to be far more anti-war and anti-American than the party, much less the nation, as a whole. But they are where the votes are.

So much for inference, which way the delegate from Goose Bay Centre is going to vote will likely determine the position of Our Lady of External and, to our shame, Canada's overall policy.

Australian PM censured over Iraq

John Howard has more than his fair share of left wing peace nuts to contend with. Some of them sit in the Australian Senate which is just slightly less potent than the Canadian Senate. It is so insignificant that Oz's own Tim Blair doesn't even mention it in his brilliant blog.

He does, however, offer a delightful way of dealing with the dead head anti-war mouth pieces:

"SKY NEWS presents the anti-war argument on Australian Agenda tonight at 7.30pm. This is the follow-up to last week's pro-war program. Featured guests are crazy lefty Kerry Nettle, Ray Richmond, and Hassan Naif, an Iraqi doctor resident in Australia for sixteen years.

Expect to hear the word "oil" a great deal. The 30 minutes will fly by if you make this a drinking game: one beer for each time oil is mentioned, one scotch for each mention of children, and one dose of psychotropic brain medicine if any panellist suggests George W. Bush is avenging his father."

Another Drug War Victim

There is nothing sadder than seeing a great nation get its drug issues so tragically wrong. Sending a man to jail for five years for cultivating starter plants for medical marijuana users is barbaric. The Federal government should be ashamed of itself...

2/04/2003

And we thought Politics was rough up here

"A bullet bounced off my head so I can take a punch," said Gonzalez, who walks with a cane. But he added that the blow stung. "She's a good-sized woman. She can throw a punch."

A wonderful story about when good politicians go a little wobbly...The outgoing mayor threw the punch...

CNN.com - Senators urge new UN resolution on U-2 flights

Even the French should be able to support a resolution requiring unconditional Iraqi co-operation with U2 flights....

DEBKAfile - Mega-Terror Menaces on Three Continents

As always DebkaFiles has to be taken with a grain of salt. But the web chatter and the capture of potential terrorists in Italy, Spain and England in the last few weeks all tend to fit the idea of a mega-terror offensive.

"The “smoking gun’” link between Iraq and al Qaeda is readily available to Secretary of State Colin Powell for use in his presentation before the UN Security Council on Wednesday, February 5. However, Washington is not yet prepared to expose Saudi complicity in the terror conspiracy, and for that reason is likely to withhold the key role played by Baghdad as well. The al Qaeda detainees in Europe also laid bare the Albanian mafia’s role in providing weapons, forged travel documents and passports, transport and hideouts for terrorists before and after their hits. The Albanian underworld, based in Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo, is well placed for this operation, having spread its tentacles across the European continent."

This is a fairly typical Debka position and certainly worth looking at when Powell speaks. Various Saudis have been implicated all along in the funding and operations of Al Qaeda. But this has remained largely under the radar. There is little doubt that an American dominated, democratic, Iraq would pose perplexing problems for the House of Saud.

In any case, read the piece.




A rather good idea

Anthony Westell has a rather good idea short of war to deal with Saddam:

"Suppose if, instead of a blitzkrieg, a small international armoured column, with overwhelming air cover, and flying the UN flag, crossed the border and headed for Baghdad with a warrant to arrest Saddam, to bring him to trial for crimes against humanity?"

The big problem woudl be finding Saddam. He is scarcer than a can of anthrax. But if that could be solved an international posse would be a precise, targetted method of bringing the Iraqi issues to a conclusion.

"Would there be serious resistance? It seems doubtful, if the mission had been made clear in advance and the alternative were full scale war in which, as the Iraqi military and security forces must know, they would be obliterated. But if there were resistance beyond the ability of the force to handle, it could retire in relative security under air protection, and war under the UN flag would follow. "

Certainly worth considering.


2/03/2003

Ivory Coast women condemn French

Now, are we absolutely sure we want the French involved in the confrontation with Iraq?

One is a lonely number

"More than three quarters of Germans says they are against a war on Iraq."

But apparently not against it enough to ignore Schroeder's performance on the economy in German. Which makes one wonder if the 3/4 number is not something of a mirage.

"If the United States presents enough evidence of Iraqi weapons to convince a majority to back a military strike, Germany's anti-war position may become untenable.

Should Germany still vote "No" or abstains in a Security Council vote, and if France decides to break ranks with Germany and vote "Yes", then Mr Schroeder's international isolation would be total.

This is indeed a lonely chancellor"

The anti-war sentiment in Germany is likely to crumble over the next month if only because the combination of the American presentation of evidence of non-compliance and the the next inspectors' report will all tend to suggest Saddam is playing silly buggers with the UN. While the Greens will grow more shrill, the majority of the German population will look at the evidence presented and make up their own minds as to whether they want to remain on the sidelines in the confrontation with Iraq.

Schroeder himself has never been radically anti-war; rather he has held his finger in the wind and adjusted policy accordingly. If the wind shifts so will Germany.

Twenty Years On

"With that in mind, I watched in horror as NASA Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore, answered a reporter’s question in the Saturday afternoon technical briefing, hours after the Columbia space shuttle disaster. Asked what happens when ceramic fiber heat shield tiles are discovered missing after launch, Manager Dittemore divided his answer into two parts: What happened in years past and what happens today.
Both halves were distressing. In years past, inspections could be made via the robot arm, but there was no onboard repair kit. These days, shuttle heat shield tile inspection has been codified into a “don¹t even bother to look” policy, namely, as Dittemore stated, they do all they can before launch... And that’s it. In other words, once the vehicle is past the point of no return to Cape Kennedy after liftoff, NASA has signed a death warrant for the crew, if contiguous tiles are damaged or a tile is damaged in the nose area."

Daniel L. Schwartz

For too long the space program, all of it including the Shuttle, has been underfunded and underappreciated. If nothing else comes of this weekend's tragedy, let's hope a new craft, embodying twenty years of new materials science and computer technology gets on the drawing boards and on into space.

On Power

I will happily read anything Thorsell writes but he seems to have lost the thread in today's column.

After a meander through Great Power politics then and now, he concludes:

"If power abhors a vacuum, a vacuum pleads for power, and the trigger of a deadly terrorist attack is quite enough to fill it.

Even overwhelming power that is not used creates a vacuum of its own, so the question is not whether the vacuum is filled, but who fills it. In a graphic and deeply psychological sense, Sept. 11 asked: Who governs? If the answer must be only one, it must nevertheless be very clear."

One alternative that Thorsell does not consider is the possibility that, so long as her borders and citizens are secure, America really has no great interest in projecting power merely because she can. Another is that the business of a single Great Power may well be to create the conditions of liberty and wealth which will lead to the question of power becoming less important over time.

"Who governs?" is an old world question. A new world question might by "Why govern?" The strong streak of the Republic has consistently undermined the ideological and moral Imperialists in Washington. Jefferson has had far more long term influence on the course of American affairs, at home and abroad, than Wilson could ever imagine having. And the very last thing Jefferson was interested in was foreign adventure.

2/02/2003

BBC NEWS: 'US will fabricate proof' says Iraq

One of the great benefits of the internet is that the instant Powell begins to speak all sorts of ex-CIA, KGB, Mossad and MI5 guys are going to start looking for the fix. If Powell fakes it it will be all over the net before he sits down.

Why would he bother?

Whereas this bit of spin:

"General Hossam Mohammed Amin told the BBC that he expected US Secretary of State Colin Powell to present material consisting of "fabricated space photos or aerial photos" when he addresses the UN Security Council on Wednesday."

is completely consistent with the Iraqi's own game plan.


Experiment So Far

Colby was right. Of the last 100 hits 65 were from Matt Welch, 12 were from Colby and 23 were from "unknown" which I am using as the CBC proxy.

More later..

Blair confident of French support

Well that's a relief...Fresh from the Ivory Coast triumph the French might deign to support taking down Saddam. Of course not quite yet. Not when it might actually do some good...No, in March.

Too bad there are no state elections coming up in France.

Saddam 'plans to use UN staff as hostages'


Just in case you were wondering what Saddam's plan "B" might look like the Gulf News serves up this little bit of gossip from the shark pool. Saddam took hostages in the last war as well.


CBC bias

Kathy Shaidle, who says nice things about me on her relapsed catholic website suggests blogging for bias at the CBC.

A great idea but that would mean having to watch Newsworld - a required feature of a very special circle of Hell. The bias in the CBC is, in some sense nothing more than the knee jerk anti-Americanism which infects a great deal of Canada's media. So rather than dealing with the symptom, my own preference is to look at the anti-American roots of the problem.

The old Tory, United Empire Loyalist, strain in Canadian politics is one root. There are lots of others. All of which are interesting to blog about.

Peace in Germany

"The party campaigned as the party of peace, echoing Mr. Schröder's successful appeal to German sentiment against a war in Iraq, an appeal credited with giving his party a come-from-behind victory in the national elections just over four months ago."
"On Friday, Mr. Schröder, who made half a dozen campaign appearances in Lower Saxony alone, asserted in a final campaign appearance in Hanover, the state capital, that the "federal government would do everything it could to prevent a war in Iraq." But none of this was able to arrest the party's fall from favor."

Apparently the Germans are not so concerned with preserving the Iraqi regime that they are unwilling to vote their pocketbooks in state elections.

Schröder may be right as to a general anti-war sentiment in Germany, but it is not very deep. Certainly not deep enough to overcome the more fundamental questions of the Social Democrats deeply unpopular economic policies.

At a guess, being pro-war would not win any votes, but being anti-war does not matter much either. At least in Germany...I wonder about France? Or Canada?



Unconditional Meetings

There is a good deal of confusion as to whether or not Iraq must accept the conditions set out in the Blix letter in order to have the proposed meetings with the weapons inspectors. But that confusion masks a larger question.

Are the Iraqis complying with the spirit of UN 1441? Are they throwing open the doors to the inspectors? For all the meetings and inspections to date, Iraqui compliance seems to be grudging at best.

The clear intent of 1441 was to place the onus on the Iraqis to prove they had no prohibited weapons. This they have not done. Instead they have played cat and mouse with the inspectors.

If they continue to do so Blix should simply pack up and go home. He and the inspectors must rely on Iraqi co-operation. If they don't get it then they have an obligation to report failure to the UN and make way for the serious consequences 1411 promises.