Yemen and Bahrain both pleaded yesterday with Washington to employ non-military means to deal with the Iraq crisis. Since both governments are cooperating closely with the US military, it is hard to see such statements as more than fig leaves for public consumption. That is not to say the sentiments are insincere, only that these small, weak governments have no ability to resist the US if it goes to war, and would not try. Indeed, they will actively cooperate in key ways, especially Bahrain.
French President Jacques Chirac has also admitted that he has no power to stop the US from going to war if it really wants to, despite his own feeling that a war now would be at least premature. Nato ministers met yesterday to discuss whether to support the US in the coming war. It was from all accounts a heated discussion. Apparently the ministers do not dispute with the Bush administration about the grounds for a war, but feel the inspections should run their course and diplomatic avenues should be exhausted first.
Russian intelligence sources reported that the Russian military has been informed that the US will launch the war in the middle of February. That seems quite plausible to me.
Gen. Myers said yesterday that the US has evidence that the Iraqi high command is rattled at the prospect of a war. This is news? That they are Baathists doesn’t mean they are brain dead.
It seems to me that the war has all but begun, and the Russians are right that we are about three weeks away from it. It amazes me that my friends on the left think that mere public opinion can still avert it. The only real bar to the war could have been raised last fall in Congress, and wasn’t. Bush has all the domestic authorization he needs. And the UNSC resolution can be interpreted as a warrant for action if the Iraqis are found to be flaunting it (and they are at least being uncooperative with the inspections).
I think there are grounds for such a war, but think it highly unwise to launch it without an explicit, second UN Security Council Resolution. The Bush administration hawks are essentially tearing up the UN Charter and the post- WW II attempts to avert further aggressive, unilateral wars. The US is the most powerful country in the world, and sets precedents about things like legitimate grounds for military action. If we do this thing in the teeth of UNSC, we will all eventually suffer for it. But, that maniac mass-murderer Bin Laden gave the Bushies a public warrant for their perpetual war, and there is nothing anyone can do about it for now. When Wolfowitz goes on to China, then maybe the American public will be war-weary enough to put a stop to this crusade.
If the left is wise, it will begin holding the administration’s feet to the fire about the need for democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former is being re-talibanized by our allies, and the Rumsfeld-Cheney axis would be happy with a less repressive dictatorship in Baghdad. If there is going to be a war, the US should do its best to get a genuinely democratic Iraq out of it. The worst case scenario is we risk all this world opprobrium and kill 30,000 Iraqis, just to end up with another iron fist, only garbed in a velvet glove.