Last week, President George W. Bush addressed the United Nations on the threat Iraq poses with its possession of biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.
In the speech, Bush pointed out that Iraq has defied 16 separate U.N. resolutions demanding that the Iraqi regime allow weapons inspectors into the country to search for weapons of mass destruction or demanding that Iraq rid itself of those weapons.
Sixteen times, Bush noted, the United Nations has failed to enforce its resolutions with consequences. Sixteen times, Saddam Hussein has defied the will of the world.
In pushing the United Nations to take action, Bush is asking the world organization to do something it has never done-follow up its resolutions with a forceful response. The United Nations has been a strong peacekeeping force, but has never been a strong peacemaking force. Bush's demand that the United Nations take strong action against Iraq could be a turning point for world security and international law. The Bush administration must be careful, however, not to appear that it is dictating its demands to the United Nations.
The diplomatic signs over the week, however, were encouraging, as new allies emerged in the United States' campaign against Iraq. Britain, Italy and Japan have voiced their strongest support, diplomats have made progress with Russia, which issued a warning to Iraq this week, and even countries once staunchly opposed to U.S. intervention, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have taken steps toward helping the American stance.
Bush's speech to the United Nations brilliantly demonstrated that Iraq has repeatedly defied the world consensus on weapons of mass destruction. Saddam also has not only demonstrated that he has biological and chemical weapons, but he has already used them against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq.
Bush must now convince the world that Iraq is a threat to the Middle East and to the world. Obviously, Saddam has shown no qualms in using weapons of mass destruction, but the Bush administration and their allies need to outline why allowing Saddam's regime to continue is more dangerous than the status quo and provide as much evidence as possible of links to terrorist groups.
Iraq, which inspired world ire by invading a neighboring country 11 years may likely continue to oppose weapons inspections and the destruction of its stockpiles. If so, it will only strengthen the U.S. case for action.
By going to the United Nations, Bush is acting more responsibly than if he engaged in unilateral action and setting a strong precedent for other countries who might want to make a preemptive strike, such as Russia is threatening to do in Georgia or China has often threatened to do against Taiwan.
A U.N. resolution that promises consequences if Iraq continues to defy weapons inspections or maintains its weapons of mass destruction may not be able to convince Iraq to comply, but it will likely convince the rest of the world that the United States is serious about dealing with the Iraqi situation and that it is giving its allies around the world the chance to influence and aid the United States' eventual response toward Iraq.
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