Diplomacy backed by force: a winning combination
When the United Nations Security Council voted 15 to zip to force Saddam Hussein to disarm, the world relearned a lesson it often forgets: diplomacy only works when it is backed by the credible threat of the use of credible force. Without the potential for the use of force hovering in the background, diplomacy is just a lot of talk over conference tables or over Chablis and Brie at fancy embassy receptions and garden parties.
For weeks, those who opposed the current Bush Administration were howling for either no new UN Security Council resolution against Iraq or at least another dish-water weak resolution like the previous 16 UN resolutions that failed to get Saddam to disarm. If they truly sought peace, one has to wonder what the appeasers use for brains? Stunned by the 15 to zip vote that even included neighboring Syria, Saddam caved in narrowly avoiding the almost certain devastation of his palaces, military infrastructure and his own demise.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Saddam will actually permit the UN inspections to have full and unfettered access in their search for his weapons of mass destruction. By the way, those are the same weapons of mass destruction Saddam threatens to use on our forces, but then claims, in the next breath, not to possess.
Meanwhile, just prior to the UN vote, our commander-in-chief was active on a number of military levels. He was sending some of our troops toward the Middle East on non-military aircraft through airports located in some countries not directly along the most logical path to their final destination. The sight of U.S. troops and their duffel bags stopping over or changing planes in Shannon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid and Zurich is not so the troops can add more exotic stamps to their passports. The purpose is to give our fair-weather friends in Europe the feeling that America means business and will not back off until Saddam obeys the UN mandates or is forced to do so.
All of the despots who rule in the Middle East know that if Saddam goes down, then they are likely to go down as well. Without a dictator like Saddam, there is no way that what we have come to know as Iraq can hold together. As Jack Wheeler writes in the New Orleans Daily Reckoning, “It takes a Saddam to hold the place together…A disintegrated Iraq could easily mean an independent Kurdistan, which the millions of Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran would clamor to join, splitting apart those three countries. It could mean an independent Basra, or just an inchoate anarchy, another Somalia. The fear of these post-Saddam scenarios is what drives much of the international frenzy against G.W. taking Saddam out.”
But, by use of diplomacy backed by force, President Bush is causing our fair-weather friends to realize it is in their best interest for Saddam to comply and even those who wish us harm are now pressuring Saddam to admit the UN weapons inspection teams. Why? Because if the U.S., the U.K. and their allies occupy Baghdad, Saddam’s business accounts will be confiscated. The world would then see how France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and many of his Arab neighbors in the Middle East have been conducting business with Saddam in violation of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations at the end of the Gulf War. They pray Saddam will comply.
When Saddam agreed to the latest UN resolution, oil prices dropped. But what will happen if Saddam fails to comply and we are forced to attack? Temporarily, oil prices will sky-rocket. But oil is a fungible commodity. Alternative sources will bring prices back down. The oil scare will permit drilling on those 2,500 acres of Alaskan wilderness. Oil will return to $18 to $24 dollars per barrel and we may seek democracy rise like a Phoenix in these made-up countries that have only known dictators.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack on Colorado’s water reservoirs.
©2002. William Hamilton