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Sunday, August 25, 2002

James Baker III Weighs in on Iraq

The heavy talent arrives:

"While there may be little evidence that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda or to the attacks of Sept. 11, there is no question that its present government, under Saddam Hussein, is an outlaw regime...

And thus regime change in Iraq is the policy of the current administration, just as it was the policy of its predecessor. That being the case, the issue for policymakers to resolve is not whether to use military force to achieve this, but how to go about it."

And Baker goes on to make the case for war. He takes Kissinger's view (in an op-ed for which I cannot find a working link) that we should do the weapons inspection dance first. These next passages strike me as daft, but see for yourself:

"The United States should advocate the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of a simple and straightforward resolution requiring that Iraq submit to intrusive inspections anytime, anywhere, with no exceptions, and authorizing all necessary means to enforce it. Although it is technically true that the United Nations already has sufficient legal authority to deal with Iraq, the failure to act when Saddam Hussein ejected the inspectors has weakened that authority. Seeking new authorization now is necessary, politically and practically, and will help build international support.

Some will argue, as was done in 1990, that going for United Nations authority and not getting it will weaken our case. I disagree. By proposing to proceed in such a way, we will be doing the right thing, both politically and substantively. We will occupy the moral high ground and put the burden of supporting an outlaw regime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on any countries that vote no. History will be an unkind judge for those who prefer to do business rather than to do the right thing. And even if the administration fails in the Security Council, it is still free — citing Iraq's flouting of the international community's resolutions and perhaps Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which guarantees a nation's right to self-defense — to weigh the costs versus the benefit of going forward alone."

So, the US should seek a new UN resolution. If the UN does not oblige us, we should proceed alone, because history will judge harshly those who falter in the face of evil. History? Clinton worried about his legacy. No doubt, James III and Bush Sr. ponder theirs. But I have a hard time picturing a big chunk of the UN General Assembly worrying about how history will judge them on this issue. And only those who want to end the UN as a functioning organization will applaud if the UN does not provide an appropriate resolution and we attack Iraq anyway. Jim "Dream-politik" Baker.

He then explains that the road to Baghdad does not got through the West Bank, but that Bush must re-affirm his vision for peace there. Well, that's clear. Sort of an Ocean's 11 riff: "Are you in or out?" "Both."

So, Scowcroft, Kissinger, Baker. For those of you scoring at home, two out of three seem to support military action. And let's not hold the fact that Baker made no sense against him.

UPDATE: The Brothers Judd join in. Hmm, maybe Baker has friends on the left?

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