Monday, November 25, 2002

Banking on the "Three P's"

Fareed Zhakaria has an excellent piece today discussing the likely outcome of weapons inspections in Iraq (no findings) and the importance of the U.S. proceeding militarily against significant European opposition anyway. Zhakaria cites a remarkable interview that Saddam gave earlier this month where he indicated that he had learned from previous diplomatic mistakes and basically claimed that he is now diplomatically rope-a-doping the U.S. Unfortunately, Saddam has figured out how to manipulate deftly the support (or at least the opposition to war) he has in various quarters.

So the U.S., left with a large pile of circumstantial evidence of weapons production, will have to begin the war under the pretext of Iraqi "noncompliance" or "noncooperation" with a series of demands to see facilities, meet with scientists, and review documents. This is the strategy of the "three P's" -- places, people, and paper. The U.S. will have to capitalize on any Iraq failure in this next phase; it's now or never.

Zhakaria doesn't say whether it was worth going to the U.N. and proceeding diplomatically. The result of that policy is that we are letting Saddam, who is cagier than he was a decade ago, dictate events to some extent because we are counting on him to violate the terms of the resolutions. Bush gave a great speech at the U.N. and did much diplomatically to get inspectors in Iraq again, but this is quite a game of chicken we're playing.


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