Citing 14 specific goals and complaints against the Iraqi government, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution recently to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq.
The Resolution also warned Iraq that previous prerequisites from past U.N. demands will still be enforced including allowing Iraqi civilians to live freer lives under a more fair government.
With all of the new demands, the question still remains whether Iraq, which pledged full compliance, will actually live up to its end of the bargain.
One of the many complaints addressed was the return of Kuwaiti prisoners-of-war from the incursion into that state in the Persian Gulf conflict. Kuwaiti government sources. Economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait demand full and complete disclosure of such information, as well as destruction of all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
In 1998, weapons inspectors were forced to leave Iraq after the Hussein regime denied access to several key sites possibly containing weapons outlawed by the Security Council.
The broader question to analyze is whether or not Iraq’s future compliance is a subjective matter that will ever be agreed upon. At this point, the United States has spent much of its time since Sept. 11, 2001, rallying a fairly weak international coalition to hold Iraq accountable for its material breaches of several past resolutions. Since this time, Iraq has successfully delayed intervention, giving ample time for a weapons cover-up.
Now, after skillful diplomacy and cautious steps taken by the Bush administration, weapons inspectors are back into the middle eastern country with a new mandate to find, test, and destroy any illegal weapons.
At the same time, however, weapons are not the only concern outlined in the resolution. For example, Iraq is required to “assist” the inspectors with their search. The very nature of the term is difficult to quantify, and already there is squabbling over whether Iraq’s perceived hostility or unfriendly advances towards the inspectors would therefore violate the Resolution.
Just last week, an American plane was shot at and destroyed while patrolling a no-fly zone in southern Iraq, a move that got Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to bark at the Iraqi President and threaten that he should “watch his step.”
Unfortunately, the diplomatic process is often a self-congratulatory process with no real results. At least on the surface, the Bush administration appears to have succeeded in establishing a coalition to challenge Saddam Hussein’s authority in the region. However, it is important to bear in mind that past impositions of U.N. sanctions led by the United States have done little to undo the vice grip Saddam holds on the Iraqi government.
Perhaps the U.N.’s reluctance to enforce the agreements has led to the current day situation. After demolishing Iraqi forces under the last President Bush, Americans are less willing to support a war that should have been ended during that era. Further procrastination and indecisiveness by either the Bush administration or the United Nations Security Council will only lessen the waning public support here in the U.S. and abroad.
Finally the United States has garnered enough support to promote some tangible progress in the Middle East. With all of the media outlets focusing mainly on whether or not Saddam will comply, the question that really should be asked is whether our government will uphold its promise to the American people of settling this decade old dilemma, militarily if need be.