This just isn’t a good time to be George W. Bush. United Nations inspectors combing Iraq for weapons of mass destruction have come up empty handed. Saddam Hussein has allowing them relatively unfettered access but all they’ve uncovered is a few unused shells.
Bush is nothing if not persistent when it comes to perceived world bad guys. Just yesterday he told an audience in St. Louis that Hussein is “a dangerous, dangerous man with dangerous, dangerous weapons.” Despite the repeated use dangerous, the rest of the world is unconvinced. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder still talks about “peaceful solutions” and Germany and France is putting the brakes on war in the U.N. Security Council, waiting for evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to turn up.
It must frustrate our president to see that all these years of military sanctions against Iraq have been working. All the evidence uncovered by the U.N. inspectors prove that we can “win without war,” as one current slogan goes, and that we have in fact been winning. We’ve kept Saddam Hussein from rebuilding his military after the Gulf War. U.S. isolation of Iraq has been successful despite its numerous flaws. Saddam is not a threat.
Which brings us to real threats and to North Korea. President Bush and his team of war mongerers have been so busy looking at Iraq that they’ve given North Korea just sporadic attention. Recently-declassified reports show that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has known much more about North Korea’s nuclear bomb making over the last dozen years than anyone’s been admitting.
The C.I.A. has known that North Korea and Pakistan have been trading nuclear secrets. Pakistan has been showing its ally of convenience how to build the centrifuges that process weapons-grade uranium. North Korea in return has provided the missile technology that gives Pakistan the nuclear reach to destroy arch-rival India. Now that we know President Bush knew all about this history of what we might call “dangerous, dangerous” technology trade, why did he cozy up to Pakistan following September 11th? He so wanted wars with Afghanistan and Iraq that he normalized relations with a country far more dangerous. If a Pakistani or North Korean nuclear weapon goes off in New York City it will kill a whole lot more people than Osama bin Laden’s four hijacked airplanes. What happened on September 11th was terrible but it’s nothing compared to what a enemy with resources could do.
There are real threats to world peace, far more “dangerous, dangerous” than Iraq. The United States needs to drop its president’s obsessions and look squarely at the world and who we’re allied with. And when we reset our policies we wqcan use Iraq as our model. For as the U.N. inspectors have proven, we can create peace through diplomacy and we can isolate troublemakers through smart sanctions.
What a tough lesson for U.S. leaders bent on war.