Jewish World Review Oct. 23, 2002 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Henry Kissinger had it right. "The strong grow weak because of inhibitions while the weak gain strength through effrontery." What could better describe the United States' fawning all over France in the hopes that we might be allowed by the powers in Paris to defend ourselves against Saddam Hussein and his developing nuclear capability?
Who appointed France the arbiter of our foreign policy? Paris only has a veto in the Security Council through American generosity and our desire to soothe the wounded ego of the defeated and largely collaborationist nation after World War II. Why does the U.S. seem so helpless in the face of French opposition to our intention to invade Iraq?
Russia has made it clear that it will cut a deal with us anytime we seek one whereby the new Iraqi regime honors its debt to Moscow and gives the Kremlin commercial privileges. China will likely abstain as it has in the past on such issues. But the mighty mite in Paris cannot be persuaded to let the United States act before Saddam can strike.
The right way to deal with the UN - and with the French - is to set a deadline of January 1, 2003. By then, Saddam must fully comply with all UN resolutions, destroy his weapons of mass destruction under international supervision, and open every part of his nation to inspection teams accompanied by military units or we invade. If the UN acts by January 1, we will do so with its imprimatur. If not, we will act on our own.
Confronted with a deadline, the Russians, who respect power more than any power on earth, will cut a deal. China will back off. France will have its bluff called. If Paris prevents the UN from endorsing a US effort to enforce its regulations, we need to rethink the entire role of the United Nations and of the voting system which accords such weight to nations whose military and economic might have seen better days.
France objects to the US plans not through principle but because it needs to individuate to prove its relevance in the modern world. Like the two year old who must say "no" to assert his identify, France objects so she might, in Kissinger's words, "grow strong through effrontery."
Were the issues concerning Saddam of an academic nature, as they were when we acceded to French requests that we bail their peacekeepers out of Bosnia by US air action, we might expend the patience necessary to allow this exercise to run its course.
But, after 9-11, we Americans are acting in our own self-defense and must not allow our resolve to be sapped. Nipping Saddam Hussein in the bud before he can develop the bomb is the modern equivalent of attacking Hitler when he occupied the Rhineland in the thirties - his first assertion of overt military power. France didn't do so then. They won't do so now. We followed their lead in the thirties and have regretted it ever since. Now, we must be clear that we are responsible for our own defense and will not be deterred because Jacques Chirac objects.
As so often is the case, what makes good policy also makes good politics.
Bush's inability to lead in the UN, ever since Saddam began again his on-and-off approval of inspections, is costing his party dearly in the oncoming midterm elections. Missouri, Minnesota, and New Hampshire have gone from lean Republican to lean Democrat as the nation watches its leader seemingly paralyzed by a tyrant in Baghdad and an ego in Paris. By boldly setting a deadline and making the U.N. put up or shut up, Bush can regain the initiative and make the world come to him. Like an American president should.
The U.S. must make it clear that we will act, with UN sanction or not, and that we will do it by January 1st. Let Saddam and
Chirac react to us for a change.
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