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"War hath no fury like a noncombatant"

Unleash the dogs of punditry!   Following is a rogue's gallery of recent
commentary from the U.S.:

**"Hussein Is Getting the Last Laugh" (LATimes 00.12.10)
- Commentary by a former Deputy Executive Chairman of UNSCOM
**"Saddam wins. America sleeps."
- Commentary by A.M. Rosenthal, fmr. editor of the NYTimes (NYDailyNews
**"Iraqi intransigence: United Nations should insist on inspections"
- Dallas Morning News Editorial (00.12.07)
- Perhaps the most worthy of the pro-sanctions editorials.
**"Outside the Box"
- Wall Street Journal Editorial (00.12.05)
-  Particularly Rabid SoundBite: (re: policy of 'slowly taking away pieces
of [Saddam's] territory') "Why such a policy would need to go slowly is
beyond our ken."
**"A Smoldering Fire in Baghdad"
- NYTimes Editorial (00.12.04)
- PRSB: "maintain and if necessary tighten sanctions"
**"A Bush administration would face an old foe"
- Commentary by two influential oil industry figures (Houston Chronicle
- PRSB: "A military deployment must start immediately."
**"Containing Iraq"
- Washington Post Editorial (00.11.12)
- PRSB: "The only responsible policy toward this kind of warmongering
dictator is containment, and the tougher the better."

Some recurring themes:
>> America is being abandoned by self-serving allies for the most venal of
>> The humanitarian situation (if it's mentioned at all) is the fault of
Saddam Hussein;
>> The sanctions-busting flights will open the door to smuggling weapons
>> Under OFF, Saddam has received a whopping 37-billion for food and
>> Turning off the Iraqi oil spigot is an act of war (or, as distilled by
sanctions critic Justin Raimondo: "We need the oil: now, let us seize it. We
don't even need to manufacture much of a provocation.)"

Much of what follows is so inaccurate and uninformed, it's difficult to take
seriously.  But consider: the Post, the Times, and the WSJournal are the
most influential newspapers in the country.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA
* Note: "War hath no fury like a noncombatant" is from C. E. Montague,
writer and WWI veteran. 


Sunday, December 10, 2000 

Hussein Is Getting the Last Laugh 


     WASHINGTON--In light of the present trend of events regarding Iraq, one
could be forgiven for asking: Who's containing whom? Virtually all the
continuing multilateral actions in the United Nations Security Council have
the effect of reinforcing the legitimacy of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Moreover, as Iraq continues to expand its oil capacity, and its contracts
grow under the U.N.' s "oil-for-food" program, some members of the Security
Council have an increasing stake in keeping the Iraqi president around. This
has clearly been a large part of Iraq's strategy of dividing the United
States from its allies and other members of the Security Council. 
     Meanwhile, the United States, virtually alone, spends billions of
dollars to keep Hussein in check. Imagine security in the region if U.S.
forces withdrew. Except for the British (and they're increasingly wobbly),
the rest of the permanent members of the Security Council contribute only
criticism as they compete to win favor and lucrative contracts from Iraqis.
The remaining council checks on Iraq include sanctions, which are eroding,
and control of Iraq's legal oil-export revenues. These funds go to an escrow
account, and the U.N. must approve any expenditure by Iraq. This is the last
serious U.N. constraint on Baghdad's grander military visions. 
     The Europeans seem convinced that pragmatism and commercial interests
dictate that they must work with Hussein. Much of this is rationalized by
the need to reverse the harm to Iraq's civilian population that sanctions
cause. The United States, they are convinced, has no choice but to remain
vigilant in the region in case the Iraqi leader gets aggressive again.
Hence, they can afford, and indeed profit, from being relatively open to the
     Given Hussein's track record and undiminished ambitions, the future
does not look good. His regime has an exquisite sense of the value and use
of power. Toward that end, it has acquired and now retains weapons of mass
destruction. The same logic drives its oil policy. Iraq's oil minister, Gen.
Amir Mohammed Rashid, has said he can more than double current production
capacity--up to 6 million bar rels a day--in three to four years. Iraq's
goal is to supplant Saudi Arabia as the dominant force in the Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It is worth noting that the same Rashid
had a leading role in directing the successful development of Iraqi
weapons-of-mass-destruction programs in the 1980s. His wife, Rihab Taha, ran
the biological-weapons program. 
     The Security Council provides the resources. It now allows Iraq to
spend $1.2 billion a year renovating oil infrastructure. Economies in the
West demand more oil, and they grow faster with energy prices lower. Iraq
knows it has a powerful lever, and it intends to make it more powerful. The
question the next U.S. administration will face is: Can we accept a future
with Hussein in control of weapons of mass destruction and a sizable
fraction of the world energy market? Iraq already is using the power of its
oil capacity by throttling back its oil exports. 
     Some council members focus narrowly on the Iraqi weapons threat and
argue that a proposed monitoring organization would limit Hussein's weapons
of mass destruction. This is highly dubious. Iraq refuses to permit U.N.
inspectors in the country. Why should it? The regime is doing well following
a strategy of sanctions erosion. Even if it did allow inspectors in, would
the Security Council suspend sanctions and give the checkbook back to
Hussein? If the council did so, the first thing Hussein would do is toss out
the inspectors again if they were the slightest bit intrusive or effective. 
     The United States appears to be losing its influence on this issue. It
has been addressing the Iraq problem through the Security Council with the
noble objective of obtaining a multilateral, collective response. For
several years, this more or less worked. However, the interests of other
countries have evolved, and Iraq has successfully lured them away. 
     What is worse, the actions of other council members are driven
increasingly by the objective of containing the United States. Drawing the
United States into the Security Council is an opportunity to achieve equal
footing with this "hyperpower," as French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine
castigated the U.S. For the United States, the Security Council can become a
voyage to Lilliput where the Lilliputians are quick-witted, nimble and can
tie the United States up quite handily. This is not to say that the Security
Council is without merit, simply that collective action has its limits. 
     In the case of Iraq, the incremental decisions by the council that
effectively re-empower Hussein will make it inevitable that the United
States enact unilateral policies and actions, one way or the other. The next
U.S. administration will have to make a hard decision as to whether it
considers Hussein's regime inevitable, and if not, some tough steps will be
in order. 
- - -
Charles Duelfer, a Guest Scholar at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, Is Former Deputy Executive Chairman of the U.n.
Special Commission

Note: Mr. Rosenthal's piece was included in Peter Brooke's latest news

New York Daily News Friday, December 08, 2000
Saddam Wins, America Sleeps 
by A.M. Rosenthal

Americans are so mesmerized by the Bush-Gore struggle for the presidency
that they are making a historic mistake. They think of it as the only
important event taking place in the world.

But something else is happening that will shape the next President's place
in history and the destiny of all nations within range of Iraqi missiles.
The presidential candidates have not discussed that; it might upset us. 

The reality is that Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq, has won the war
against the United States and most of the world. No piece of paper says so,
but every country knows it.

The U.S., with United Nations help, defeated Saddam in the Persian Gulf War
of 1991 in 100 hours of land warfare following a few weeks of missile
attacks. Nine years later, that desert victory has been overturned at
Saddam's headquarters in Baghdad, at the UN's skyscraper in New York, at the
State Department and White House and in countries that used to be our allies
but now prefer the profitable betrayal of oil trade. Saddam is not only out
of the box, but owns it. On Tuesday, he nailed America in it, tighter.

When our former allies saw that the Clinton administration had neither the
plans nor the ability to protect the victory it had inherited from President
George Bush, zip - they were Baghdad-bound to destroy the economic sanctions
imposed by the U.S. when Iraq collapsed. The sanctions could have controlled
Iraq's boundless military plans for future conquest and terrorism. 

Saddam pays off his new partners - led by Russia, China and France - in oil
profits and Middle Eastern influence. 

He had fought to add Kuwait's oil fields to his own. After he was defeated,
the Bush administration kindly left him with an army, but did get one
important pledge. Saddam agreed to international inspections to make sure he
was no longer on the road to the weapons he had been preparing to produce -
the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons that would give him dominance
over all the Mideast, most of Islam and any other part of the world within
his radius.

If he did not cooperate with the inspections, the agreement said, he would
be subject to sanctions, chiefly preventing him from selling oil to buy
anything that might have military use. As soon as he made the pledge, he
just said no. He shoved international inspectors around and threw many out
of the country.

Still, under Richard Butler of Australia, the inspectors were getting closer
to his plans and materials for weapons of mass destruction. So he ordered
the inspectors out. For two years, there have been no - repeat, no -
inspections at all. The U.S. and the UN have done nothing about it. 

None of Saddam's elite goes without a Mercedes or caviar, while children of
the poor suffer from lack of decent food and medicine. The UN has allowed
him $37billion to buy both. But if the conditions are not to his taste, he
just refuses the money to buy food and medicine for the children and sick of
Iraq. Observing the sanctions is Saddam's choice, and he prefers to have
Iraqi children die rather than allow unhindered inspections - or even allow
the inspectors back.

In criticizing the sanctions recently, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan did
not bother to point out Saddam's deliberate choice. Neither do any of the
nations now frantically appeasing him, nor do they tell the world that if
Saddam ever let inspectors discover and destroy the factories of his weapons
of mass destruction, the sanctions would be lifted. 

There are other sanctions in place, like the one prohibiting civilian
airplanes from flying in and out of Iraq. President Clinton just looks blank
when that is violated, something that is becoming internationally chic.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council gave Saddam more leeway to raise and
spend oil billions as he chooses. Soon, it will approve international air
traffic to Baghdad. Saddam will be able to smuggle in weapons and technology
not only by land, but aboard "civilian" planes from Russia and other U.S.

The Tuesday decision, like all by the Security Council, was taken in a
closed meeting. The U.S. did not use its veto power. Fake "consensus" was
announced. James Cunningham, the American diplomat who has the nasty job of
dealing with Iraq, said it was really "not a bad outcome."

What would George W. Bush or Al Gore do about Iraq? They didn't say during
the campaign. They don't say now. Could it be they don't have a clue? 

Saddam's power mania will bring on another war - count firmly on that.
People will probably call it Gulf II. But in deference to the current
winner, we really should call it Saddam II. And hope we don't have to count

Thursday | December 7, 2000
Iraqi intransigence: United Nations should insist on inspections

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein wants out from under United Nations' economic
sanctions,  and is waging a smart divide-and-conquer strategy to erode
international resolve to  isolate his regime.

His latest ploy was Iraq's on-again, off-again suspension of oil exports
last week. He  suspended the exports after demanding that buyers pay a
surcharge that would have  provided Iraq cash outside the special U.N.
account that governs the oil-for-food  program. It was a bold challenge of
the post-Gulf War sanctions aimed at preventing him  from rebuilding his war

Iraq is showing signs of backing down, possibly because Saddam Hussein was
simply  probing international resolve, but was not willing to precipitate a
full-scale spat at  this time. If the past is an indication, this will not
be Mr. Hussein's last stab at  ending the sanctions. 

With the prominent exception of an oil-for-food program that permits Iraq to
sell oil  to buy food and medicine for humanitarian reasons, U.N. fiat bars
Iraq from trading  with the rest of the world. Still, foreign policy experts
say thriving black market  operations and Iraqi lobbying in European
capitals are undermining the sanctions. 

Clearly, the sanctions strategy has not brought Saddam Hussein's regime to
its knees.  There is extensive evidence that the Iraqi people need
educational, nutritional and  overseas assistance to repair Iraq's
infrastructure for electricity, water and  sanitation. For humanitarian
reasons, the U.N. this week again extended the  oil-for-food program, adding
a provision that gives Iraq greater flexibility over how  it will use the

What complicates this otherwise simple humanitarian decision is that the
U.N. continues  to give ground without getting in return the right to
inspect Iraqi installations for  evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Hussein promised it, and he reneged on it.  Iraq was allowed to oust
weapons inspectors two years ago without a lasting consequence  to the
Hussein regime. 

The U.N.'s chief arms inspector said this week that he is hopeful that
Saddam Hussein  will allow inspections next year. Nonetheless, the U.N.
continues to risk being  outflanked by Mr. Hussein chiefly because the will
to confront him on weapons issues  remains in hibernation. Among U.N.
Security Council members, only the United States and  Great Britain are
solidly behind maintaining sanctions.

It would be foolish for the world to think that Iraq hasn't rebuilt at least
part of  its weapons program. For those reasons, the U.N. should vigorously
insist that  international inspectors again be allowed to monitor Iraqi
installations. Also, the  U.S. should take the lead in rebuilding an
international coalition to press for weapons  inspections and give teeth to
the sanctions policy. 

To do otherwise would allow the Iraqi dictator to completely gut the
economic sanctions  and would make the world an even more dangerous place. 


Wall Street Journal
December 5, 2000    
Outside the Box

It was 1998, and Iraq was "in a box." Or so argued U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine  Albright as the U.N. weapons-inspection regime crumbled in the
face of Iraqi  intransigence. Two years on, the world is beginning to see
just how hollow Mrs.  Albright's remark really was.
Let's see: U.N. sanctions notwithstanding, Iraq is now the third-largest oil
producer  in OPEC and, at 585,000 barrels a day, the sixth-largest supplier
of oil to the U.S.  The proceeds of these exports supposedly go to a U.N.
escrow account, which in turn  supposedly goes toward purchasing food and
medicines for Iraqi civilians. In fact, the  Iraqi regime sells much of this
food and medicine on the black market, then uses the  profits any way it
sees fit. Iraq also exports oil on the black market, reportedly  through
Russian front companies and probably soon through a newly repaired Syrian
pipeline. Additional revenue comes from Iraq's trade with Pakistan and
Jordan, to name  but two known culprits.

And how does Iraq spend money? Apparently not on its needy citizens, whose
suffering  provides the justification for the oil-for-food program. Instead,
we hear reports that  Saddam has opened a Disney-like theme park meant
exclusively for his supporters and  their families. And that he has embarked
on a massive program of prison construction.  And the he has produced an
estimated 610 tons of "precursor chemicals" necessary for  the production of
nerve agents. And that he continues to test ballistic missiles  capable of
delivering those agents.

Indeed, the collapse of sanctions has all but been acknowledged by the U.S.,
the  country chiefly responsible for enforcing them. Saddam Hussein
International Airport is  again open to commercial flights. And "civilian"
Iraqi planes are now allowed to cross  into the northern and southern
"no-fly zones without U.S. protest. That the Iraqi  regime pulled a similar
stunt after the Gulf War -- when it won permission to fly  helicopters in
the no-fly zones and then used them bloodily to surprise a popular  uprising
-- seems not to have dawned on U.S. officials.

Meanwhile, Iraq has become increasingly assertive in using its "oil-weapon,"
most  recently by cutting off oil exports for a two day period. As this
newspaper reported  yesterday, "most experts expect Baghdad to emerge with
control over another chunk of  its oil revenue and with the
international-sanctions regime in further disarray."

So there you have Mrs. Albright's "box." For anyone who has followed Western
policy  toward Iraq over the last eight years, none of this should come as a
surprise. The U.S.  has repeatedly backed off from ultimatums to punish Iraq
militarily for its violations  of U.N. resolutions. When it did strike, in
December of 1998, the attacks were  deliberately targeted so as to cause
minimum damage. Further strikes against Iraqi  radar installations have had
similarly negligible effects in deposing Saddam.

The American position on the U.N. Security Council, through which the
sanctions are  enforced, has become increasingly untenable. Russia, China
and France are all in favor  of easing sanctions. Last month, over 100
French companies participated last month in  the Baghdad International Fair.
There can be little question where their interests lie.

What's to be done? One might think that U.S. President Clinton would have
seen the  overthrow of Saddam as a worthy capstone to an otherwise
legacy-less administration.  But given the timid record of the last eight
years that hardly seems likely now. Al  Gore has promised to do better. But
he too bears much of the blame for a near-decade of  vacillation.

Which leaves the likely next President, George W. Bush. The Republican Party
platform  calls for "a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam
Hussein." And one of his top  foreign-policy advisers, Robert Zoellick, has
gone so far as to call for a policy of  "slowly taking away pieces of
[Saddam's] territory." Why such a policy would need to go  slowly is beyond
our ken. But at least it's aiming in the right direction.

What's important now is that action be taken to reverse the slide in the
Western  position against Iraq. Increasingly close ties between Iraq and
both Russia and China  mean that high-tech military assistance might soon be
in the offing. As the chances of  a regional war in the Middle East grow,
there could hardly be a greater foreign-policy  priority for the next U.S.

December 4, 2000
A Smoldering Fire in Baghdad
Nine years after the Persian Gulf war, Saddam Hussein remains a menace to
American  interests in the Middle East. Seeing Gov. George W. Bush flanked
recently at his ranch  by two architects of the war effort, Dick Cheney and
Gen. Colin Powell, was a piquant  reminder that Washington has unfinished
business in Iraq. One of the first tests  awaiting Mr. Bush or Vice
President Al Gore will be to devise a policy that keeps Mr.  Hussein in
check even as other nations like Russia and France press to end Iraq's

Mr. Hussein continues to defy United Nations peace terms by blocking
international  weapons inspections. He chips away at the economic sanctions
meant to keep him from  rebuilding his arsenal of biological and chemical
weapons and to prevent him from  developing nuclear weapons. Last week he
closed the tap on the 2.3 million barrels a  day of oil that Baghdad exports
when consuming nations rejected his demand for a  50-cent-a-barrel surcharge
over U.N.-administered prices. He relented yesterday. The  surcharge would
have been paid directly into the Iraqi treasury, where it could have  been
used to pay for new weapons. With global oil supplies tight, any sustained
Iraqi  cutoff would further inflate prices that are already painfully high
and could even  create an oil shortage.

For over a year, the Clinton administration has deliberately downplayed
problems with  Iraq. It hoped to avoid a new military showdown at a time
when international unity was  frayed and feared that another round of
inconclusive airstrikes against Iraqi military  and industrial targets might
have complicated Mr. Gore's presidential campaign. 

Iraq used this period to try to extricate itself from international
monitoring and  economic pressure. When the Security Council passed a
compromise resolution last  December that would have offered some promise of
relief from sanctions in exchange for  the return of U.N. weapons
inspectors, Baghdad rejected it and the resolution has never  been put into
effect. An increasing number of countries have resumed civilian flights
into Baghdad, ignoring a U.N. ban. 

Iraq is preparing to use Russia's presidency of the Security Council this
month to seek  a further loosening of sanctions and financial controls while
whittling down inspection  requirements. Washington needs to deflect these
new pressures and reinvigorate its own  policies even before the next
administration takes office. 

America's guiding goals should be to keep Iraq from threatening its
neighbors and the  flow of oil to the West by making clear that any future
Iraqi aggression would be  unacceptable. To this end, Washington must work
with Security Council members to  maintain and if necessary tighten
sanctions so long as Baghdad refuses to accept  inspections. America should
be prepared to use airstrikes against selected targets if  there is hard
intelligence that these sites are being used to manufacture new
unconventional weapons. Mr. Hussein badly lost the Persian Gulf war. But he
has not  given up on winning the peace.

Dec. 4, 2000, 5:55PM

A Bush administration would face an old foe 

TWO events in the past week, though seemingly unrelated on the surface, may
bring us  into crisis before too long. 

First, Iraq, the third-largest oil producer in the Middle East and an
exporter of 3  percent of the world oil demand, or about 2.5 million barrels
per day, halted exports  in protest of the United Nations sanctions, imposed
after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. 

Meanwhile, the television was filled with images of Colin Powell, Dick
Cheney and  George Bush, son of the most hated figure in Iraq, preparing for
a new U.S.  presidential administration. 

Is this a coincidence? We don't think so. 

For some time now, there has been talk that Saddam Hussein would take some
drastic  action during the presidential campaign, simply to appear relevant.
He had refrained  from doing so till now, the thinking went, because a
drastic oil price increase would  have actually helped George W. Bush into
the White House. 

The growing likelihood of a Bush administration is almost certain to provoke
a vendetta  on Saddam's part, renewing the Iraqi leader's rivalry with the
senior Bush, through his  son. Everything is personal in the Middle East,
and memories are long. 

But there are some significant differences between 1991 and 2001. Saddam's
power today,  while in military terms considerably reduced, is magnified
many times because the  excess capacity in oil production worldwide is gone.

After more than a year of mini-energy crises in the United States --
everything from  heating oil in the Northeast last winter, to the emergence
of $30 oil in the spring,  then $2 gasoline in the Midwest, electricity
brownouts in California and now soaring  natural gas prices -- energy has
once again entered the national and international  spotlight. 

Israel's rift with the Palestinians only adds to the explosive psychology in
the Middle  East. Saddam is all too ready to tap into the reservoir of Arab
animosity toward the  West, and the United States is his clearest target.
While Saudi Arabia is often  presumed to be the counterbalancing political
force to Saddam, this is not always true,  and should not be expected to be
the case indefinitely. More to the point, Saudi Arabia  does not have the
excess oil production capacity that they and wishful thinkers in the  West
have claimed. 

The emerging situation gives additional impetus to resolve the electoral
fight here and  to prepare for what likely will be a January with an energy

What should the new president -- almost certainly George W. Bush -- do? 

·First, level with the American people. We, as a nation, will continue our
environmental stewardship and continue the search for alternatives. However,
it also  must be recognized that hydrocarbons account for 90 percent of the
energy mix and that  there are no credible alternatives that can play a
significant role in the next decade,  at least. 

·Second, take credit. The current tight energy situation is not a failure of
policy but  a direct result of the booming U.S. economy, especially because
of the voracious  appetite for more energy by the new economy. (Today, 20
percent of all power generated  is used by computers and is growing.) 

A prospective Bush administration ought to take the following actions: 

·Use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fully. Oil can be withdrawn from the
SPR at a  maximum sustained rate of 3.9 million barrels per day for a 90-day
period. A rate of 2  million barrels per day could be sustained for nine
months; a rate of 1 million barrels  per day rate could last for a year and
a half. 

·A military deployment must start immediately. It is an obvious question
whether  Saddam's action should be interpreted by the United States as an
act of war. We think  the answer is obvious, but in any case, the time
required to respond militarily will  not afford us the luxury to wait. And
the excess capacity of the remaining  member-nations of the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries today is  essentially zero, so they can
provide little if any relief. 

·Coherent energy policy must become an immediate priority for the United
States. The  centerpiece that would provide real alternative and plentiful
petroleum resources is  emergency funding of the Department of Energy's
ultra-deepwater technology road map,  announced last week in Galveston.
Funding this program would cost $1 billion to $2  billion over five years,
but the payoff would be immense. 

No other area, not even Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, holds such
promise  for the near future. While there is a multiyear lag time for this
oil to reach the  market, the psychology for the world markets and Saddam
Hussein would be immediate. 

·In the process, and while the country is moving full throttle toward using
natural gas  as the premium fuel for the future, there is a need to
streamline environmental and  regulatory blocks to accelerate development of
domestic natural gas infrastructure, for  example bringing Alaskan natural
gas to market and providing needed additional  liquefied natural
gas-accepting terminals. 
Economides and Oligney are professors at the University of Houston, advisers
to Fortune  500 companies and authors of The Color Of Oil -- The History,
the Money and the  Politics of the World's Biggest Business. 


Containing Iraq

The Washington Post
Sunday, November 12, 2000; Page B06 

SADDAM HUSSEIN sees an opportunity in America's political transition.
Already, Arab governments are newly willing to embrace him, thanks to
anti-American feeling spread by the Israeli-Palestinian violence. On top of
that, Europeans are courting him for business, drawn to the lucrative
opportunities created by high oil prices. The incoming U.S. administration,
Saddam calculates, is going to inherit a containment policy that seems
hopelessly tattered--so much so that there will be strong pressure to give
it up. The United Nations sanctions have already been greatly loosened for
humanitarian reasons, and they have failed for a decade to topple Saddam. 

Iraq's dictator therefore seems to be preparing a new "offer." Give up your
failed containment policy, he may suggest, and I'll allow some arms
inspections in return. The challenge for the next administration is not
merely to resist that false bargain: Saddam has proved time and again that
he has no intention of allowing meaningful inspections, and if he did submit
to them the existing U.N. resolutions already provide for a suspension of
sanctions. The real challenge is to fight hard for a containment policy--to
go out and sell it to voters and allies far more vigorously than has the
Clinton administration--because even a tattered version of this strategy is
much better than none.

Saddam and his European sympathizers--notably the French and Russians--labor
mightily to foster the impression that Iraq is already open for business
pretty much as usual. A trade fair in Baghdad recently drew hundreds of
companies from 45 countries, most of them European. The deputy speaker of
Russia's Duma has led a group of 50 parliamentarians to Baghdad; Jordan's
prime minister topped him with an entourage of 100 journalists and
officials. France's TotalfinaElf heads a rush by the world's oil
industry--including prominent U.S. companies, which operate under the fig
leaf of European partnerships--to profit from Iraq's petroleum.

All of this gives propaganda points to Iraq's dictator. But it does not mean
that the next administration might as well discard the U.N. sanctions as
hopeless. Under the U.N. system, foreign firms can help Iraq export oil; but
the oil revenues go into an offshore account to be used to purchase food,
medicines and other U.N.-approved substances. Trade continues, but the money
is supposed to be kept out of Saddam's hands. Inevitably, the system leaks a
bit; but it is clearly better than no system.

At a minimum, therefore, the next administration needs to defend the
existing sanctions. But it should set its sights on toughening them where
possible. The humanitarian objection that this hurts ordinary Iraqis is
outweighed by the sad truth that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep
portions of his population in poverty. Moreover, the critics of sanctions
seem to presume that the Saddam Hussein who rules Iraq is not the same
Saddam Hussein who overran Kuwait a decade ago, who advocates holy war
against the United States and Israel, who has used weapons of mass
destruction and would do so again. Short of removing him from power, the
only responsible policy toward this kind of warmongering dictator is
containment, and the tougher the better.

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