Monday, September 16, 2002


A member of Congress has visited Iraq. He thinks the Iraqis will agree to unconditional inspections—if non-Americans will mediate disputes. Um, does either party understand what “unconditional” means?

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.) said in an interview that meetings this weekend with senior Iraqi officials, including the deputy prime minister and a speaker of the national assembly, left him with the impression that Hussein's government was "very interested" in allowing inspectors to return unconditionally but wanted diplomats from countries other than the United States to serve as independent arbiters of disputes between Iraq and the U.N. inspection commission.

"I feel the Iraqis want to give peace a chance, and I'm convinced the majority of Americans want the same," Rahall said.

Rahall said he told the Iraqi leadership that "in order to give this opening for peace a chance, there has to be total, unconditional and unfettered access" for U.N. inspectors.

"But when Bush talks of regime change, they [the Iraqis] don't want to hear my message," Rahall said. "They say, 'What's the point of letting the inspectors in?' They feel that whatever they do, they're going to get hit."

The Iraqis would certainly like to prevent an American invasion, but in no way are they interested in peace. Iraq’s interest in letting in inspectors has only become apparent as American forces increase their readiness to invade. If we delay invasion by listening to too many people who ask for “one more chance,” Saddam will ride out a short danger period until the UN body politic rejects the recent spine implant that America has performed. The Iraqis will lose their enthusiasm for inspections once again.

The Iraqi threat has been real for years, our interest in dealing with Iraq long-standing, and accusations that this is a wag the dog scenario are ridiculous. If the administration had told Congress it didn’t want a debate until January, opponents would claim the President was trying to avoid facing the voters on a momentous war decision. Opponents of war claimed for months they only wanted a debate (even as proponents made the case, opponents simply replied “debate” at an increasingly frantic pace, rather than actually offer their opinions) and now they have an opportunity.

Actually I’m happy that people like Representative Rahall and governments like Germany speak out against war. They leave the impression that we might not attack if Iraq offers just a little concession to whet the appetite of the gullible people who “reach out” to Saddam. Face it, inspections won’t work. They rely on Iraqi good will which has been demonstrably lacking for over eleven years . The Americans preparing for war are not so easily fooled and are not going to Baghdad.

Congress has what it said it wanted. Debate. Vote.

Then on to Baghdad.