On all the evidence, Saddam Hussein remains an extremely dangerous and
evil man. He has committed the most wicked crimes, including genocide. On
his defeat in the Gulf War, he promised to destroy all his chemical and
biological weapons and larger missiles. He was to open his country to
inspection teams. But from the first inspection he sought to frustrate and
deceive the UN. He would have obtained a clearance but for a chance
defection which revealed the truth.
If he were up on a second offence in one of our courts, the prosecution
could not rely on his prior offence. But this is not a criminal trial. It
is said that one of President Clinton’s greatest regrets is that on
legal advice he let Osama Bin Ladin escape from the Sudan in 1996.
The President’s legal advisor must have been thinking about the
proper procedure for arresting, say, a burglar.
He should have been thinking of anticipated self-defence in
international law, which would have been more than justified.
Does anyone seriously doubt that Saddam is continuing to accumulate
weapons of mass destruction? Does anyone seriously doubt that he will use
or threaten to use them? Does anyone seriously doubt that if, in a last
attempt to avoid retribution, he allows in inspection teams – as he now
says he will – he will not practice every possible deceit on them?
It would be remarkably naïve to believe Saddam has in anyway reformed.
That is precisely why the Americans and the British are still involved in
enforcing the no-fly zone, and the RAN involved in enforcing the blockade.
All of this is known, but many in the West are still demanding further
proof that Saddam is accumulating weapons of mass destruction. Or that he
will use them, or threaten to use them. Because of this, or to rally
support, there are calls for more inspections and proof. Knowing that
these will only give Saddam time, and not stop him, President Bush in his
UN address showed himself understandably impatient with some of his
While there is no legal nor forensic reason to put the inspection teams
back into Iraq as a precondition to further sanctions, the President will
accept this. The reason is not so much that inspections would actually
disclose and result in the unconditional destruction, removal or rendering
harmless all those chemical and biological weapons and missiles enumerated
in Security Council 687 of 1999. If they did, that would be a bonus.
Putting the inspections back in, or obtaining an unreasonable refusal for
their entry, should finally satisfy other leaders and their people that
the danger is real and imminent.
Obviously a coalition is better than an Anglo-American Force supported
George W. Bush and Tony Blair are now being reminded that Westerners
typically find it hard to believe that a national leader can be incredibly
evil, or even perhaps that evil exists. There is an assumption that
everybody is, if not fundamentally decent, at least rational. Why else did
Britain and France give Hitler so many chances, culminating in Munich, and
even after his further betrayal there? Those who so readily rush to
condemn Chamberlain should recall that unlike the Poles, Czechoslovakia
was not going to fight.
And unlike today, the Munich generation – at least in Britain, France
and Australia – had seen such a bloodletting of their very best, that
they were understandably reluctant to rush into battle.
So today, many in the West are bending over backwards, hoping that
Saddam, if he is not a reformed character, is at least sufficiently
cowered to understand that should he use or threaten to use any weapons of
mass destruction against another country, he will be overthrown.
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