Colin Powell made his case to the UN today. I've read the coverage and basically my response is to yawn. There's nothing new here. No one expects Saddam to openly cooperate just like no one expects a person to be helpful to police who show up with a search warrant. What he seems to be saying is that "hey, we have this resolution, and Iraq isn't going along with it, so now we have to go to war."
So now it's war over a point of order? War for the sake of rules and regulations? Where's the threat, Mr Powell?
This is what I heard from Tony Blair the other day, only he was even more plain. He said, "If we don't show strength now, no one will believe us when we try to show strength in the future." This, I also believe, is closely related to the derisive "peace at any price" remarks which come from the pro-war camp.
Now, there's an argument to be made here, but not a very logically sound one. I must say that that argument will not convince me, now will it convince the American public.
Comparisons to 1938 are highly fatuous. In that case, Western European leaders were turning a blind eye as Hitler annexed Austria and much of Eastern Europe. In this case, Saddam knows he can't be aggressive without paying a very high cost (ala 1991). That is why Powell and Bush constantly harp on the scare tactics, playing up what a bad guy Saddam is and how he's really secretly best buds with Osama.
Furthermore, the world will react far better to just uses of force that are honestly supported by the international community than they will to being bullied about by a superpower. There's a good chance that this whole debacle will de-legitimize any United States role in global peacekeeping for many years to come. People intuitively feel this, which is why you see the polls showing support for unliateral action consitantly below 40%. Even most conservatives I know are disgusted by what this is doing to our reputation as a nation.
Which brings us back to the terrorist cell connection. We're told that Iraq must be prevented from having WMD because of a terrorist link. Problem is, the argument that Saddam will give away his best toys to terrorists is roundly believed to be highly unlikely. In fact, it's much more likely that terrorist or sympathizers would get their hands on bio or chemical WMD under the fog of war than with the blessing of Iraq's regime. Think about it, if someone dumps VX in the NYC subway system, what nation is being bombed to hell in about 8 hours? What does Saddam have to gain in that scneario? This is simply a rather transparent (and to my eyes fucking disgraceful) attempt to use the memory of 9-11 to justify war.
Finally, there is the $64,000 question: nukes. I would support all manner of covert operations and interdiction to slow nuclear proliferation, but waging pre-emtive war is a different kettle of fish. I for one am pretty sure that Saddam is as deterrable as Stalin on this question. We've proven willing to militarily resist aggression (1991) and militarily support containment (e.g. no-fly zones). Seems like that sort of thing is working just fine. I live in NYC, so it means something when I say I'm sure enough to stake my life on it.
An invasion of Iraq would be an atrocity. Unless we are attacked first, there's absolutly no excuse to unleash the hell of war. Are we not supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave? With immagrant roundups, nonstop fearmongering from politicians and the media and a frankly cowardly foreign policy, I'm with my conservative friends when they worry what is happening to this country.