Time's Up!


By:  Rachel Marsden


Not only were there smoking guns, but there were shell casings strewn all over the place when US Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the Bush administration's case for going after Saddam Hussein.  But of course for some folks, all the evidence in the world still wouldn't be good enough to convince them that Hussein must be dealt with now.


In a multi-media presentation, Powell delved into the detail that the non-believers have been crying out for.  He presented aerial photos of Hussein's chemical weapons, and tapes of conversations between Iraqi officials that prove Hussein is deliberately hiding weapons of mass destruction from the UN inspectors.  He also showed slides and aerial photos proving that Iraqi officials had moved equipment at chemical weapons plants in order to avoid detection by UN inspectors.  The photos are so detailed that the convoy of UN vehicles is clearly visible.  While walking a tightrope between disclosing the evidence required to convince the UN and the world that Iraq poses an imminent threat, and being careful not to give away too much information about America's intelligence and surveillance capabilities, Powell still made a phenomenal case.  However, even if Powell would have presented a photo of Hussein mixing up fresh batch of nerve gas alongside his morning oatmeal, some detractors still wouldn't have been satisfied. 


Prior to Powell's presentation, there were calls from Democrats (and other critics of the Bush administration's stance with respect to Iraq) for Bush to forget about Hussein and instead focus on the war on terrorism.  For those who have had such a difficult time connecting the dots between Baghdad and terrorists such as al-Qaeda commander Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, Powell drew some simple, connections for them.  No Florida butterfly-ballot type lines here.  But even the most dummy-proof explanation still won't weed out all the morons.  The bottom line is that there's just no pleasing, or convincing, some people.  They hold the views they do for political reasons, and there's nothing that could ever be done to appease them.


French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin reacted to Powell's speech by calling for a doubling or tripling of the number of weapons inspectors.  As though that would accomplish anything other than to give Hussein a few more playmates in his game of hide-and-go-seek.  If any more inspectors are added to the mix, Hussein might want to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records for having hosted the biggest (and longest) such game in history.


Likewise, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Powell's presentation "indicates that the activities of the international inspectors in Iraq must be continued."  Again, the question remains:  What more proof do these people want?  And what could ever be accomplished by letting the inspectors roam aimlessly around Iraq?  They've already claimed that their efforts have been obstructed and that they have been unable to carry out their duties effectively.


What people seem to be forgetting is that, as per UN Security Council resolution 1441, the onus is on Baghdad to prove that it has disarmed, and not on the UN inspectors to find something.  Dr. Dany Shoham, an expert on weapons of mass destruction with the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, explains that Saddam Hussein will "obey any request posed by inspectors" while, at the same time, "not sacrifice his stockpiles."


Resolution 1441 requires Iraq to do either one of two things:  Show irrefutable proof (in the form of documentation) that its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons--and any possible components thereof--have been destroyed; or to go out into a giant field (or something of the like) and present for destruction all the weapons that it still possesses.  If Hussein was serious about disarming, that's what he would do--and that's what the UN has requested of him.  He has failed to comply.  And every day that these weapons remain unaccounted for is another day that Iraq is growing stronger and more knowledgeable with respect to its deadly stash.


Iraq has proven time and again that it has no intention to comply.  Hussein mouthpiece Lt. Gen Amir al-Saadi called Powell's presentation "a typical American show complete with special effects."  The real special effect show here involves Iraq being able to make its cache of weapons and poisonous agents somehow disappear into thin-air and be unaccounted for.  America has nothing on the Iraqis when it comes to David Copperfield-like disappearing acts.


The time has come for America to act--with or without the support of the United Nations.  Any true allies will fall in line when push comes to shove.  The worst thing we can do is to wait until the time to act has passed.  And how will we know when that time arrives?  When we turn on the radio one morning and find that a 9/11-type nightmare that we hadn't even been able to conceive of has become our horrific reality.  History tends to judge harshly those who saw all the warning signs and had the chance to act, but failed to do so.