Tuesday, October 08, 2002

U.N. a tougher sell than U.S. heartland

Some scholars say new resolution not necessary

By Carl Weiser cweisergns.gannett.com
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON - Next stop, New York City. President Bush's speech on Iraq in Cincinnati on Monday night was targeted toward the American heartland and Washington - both of which, by most accounts, he has already won over. Now the administration turns to the United Nations, where the United States is seeking a resolution that threatens force if Iraq fails to comply fully and quickly with demands for unrestricted arms inspections.

        U.S. and allied forces could march on Baghdad as early as Thanksgiving.

        The Pentagon already has begun quietly moving equipment and ammunition to the Persian Gulf, the Washington Post reported Monday. And Britain and the United States have stepped up bombing missions in Iraq's “no-fly zones.”

        “Some sort of U.N. resolution will come through. I do see action within the next three months,” predicted Sofia Aldape, a researcher at the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

        “They want to go in before it gets too cold.”

        Step No. 1 is a strong resolution from the United Nations.

        Today, 15 members of the United Nations Security Council have their monthly working lunch with Secretary General Kofi Annan.

        “I would be surprised if Iraq didn't come up,” said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq.

        But no Security Council meeting is scheduled because no one has circulated a resolution for the council to vote on, Mr. Haq said.

        “I would not offer a precise particular time line at this point,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday. “I would say that we continue to work on the resolution with friends and allies.”

        An overwhelming vote in Congress supporting Mr. Bush's demand for wide latitude to attack Iraq would help the United States make its case in the United Nations by demonstrating unity. But Mr. Bush's arguments are a tougher sell at the United Nations than they are in Congress.

        Some Arab nations are worried that an attack will fracture Iraq and destabilize the Middle East.

        One of the nation's top experts on Iraq predicts that, by the end of November, Iraq will either give weapons inspectors free reign or will find itself under attack by the United States.

        There's a 50 percent chance Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be gone by spring, said Anthony Cordesman, a former intelligence analyst at the Pentagon and now a top Iraq scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

        So far, Saddam has proved skillful at dodging U.S. efforts by seeming to say yes to all demands.

        President Bush has insisted that the United States doesn't want a war but does want to get rid of Saddam. Nor does the United States want to go in alone - and it won't, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said this weekend.

        “For those who question whether the United States will do anything unilaterally, the question is answered - the United States will not,” Mr. Fleischer said.

        “The only question is, will the United Nations take action or will the United States and the United Kingdom and others be part of a broad, international coalition that protects the peace?”

        Several prominent scholars have suggested the United States doesn't need any new U.N. Security Council resolutions.

        The conservative Federalist Society and former President Bill Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, have said a new resolution is not required, though it would certainly give the military effort added moral weight.

        “I would hope we will continue to work that. I think that's paramount,” said Arthur Hull, president of the World Affairs Council of Cincinnati, which the White House listed as one of the hosts for Mr. Bush's speech Monday.

        If the United States gets its resolution and goes to war, that's when predictions become as good as religious prophecy, said Mr. Cordesman.

        Saddam's officers could rebel and shoot him, making for a short war. Or there could be house-to-house guerrilla warfare in Baghdad.

        A report from the Mr. Cordesman last month outlined the potential for even more frightening consequences of a war with Iraq. Saddam could use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or Israel. That could prompt the United States or Israel to respond with nuclear weapons.

        “In the fog of war, terrible things can happen,” Mr. Holbrooke told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee two weeks ago. One danger, said Mr. Holbrooke, is that the war against Iraq becomes a wider conflict between Arabs and Israel.

        “It's hard for all of us, living with uncertainty,” said the World Affairs Council's Mr. Hull. “That's the kind of the world we've been creating.”


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