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David Miller Online: Why War in Iraq is Inevitable

David Miller Online.

Why War in Iraq is Inevitable.

At face value, the announcement that Iraqi government officials will be meeting with United Nations weapons inspectors in Vienna this week to discuss their possible return is a positive sign. After all, the UN has not been able to deploy teams on the ground inside Iraq for four years and the discussion over their possible return comes at a time when war seems to be drawing closer by the day. However, even though it would seem that there is a faint light at the end of a very long and very dark tunnel there is really very little to celebrate by this announcement. For one thing, these meetings are designed only to address possible logistical arrangements and even as they begin there is no indication that the United States or Britain is prepared to scale back their plans for war.

The threat of military action looms large over these talks and any subsequent deployment of UN teams inside Iraq that might result. Even as they get underway, the coalition, which comprises only of the US and Britain are lobbying the remaining three permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, China and France -- to sign up to a draft resolution threatening Iraq with attack unless weapons of mass destruction inspectors are allowed into the country.

The US’ draft resolution to the Security Council is stringent to say the least. It allows Iraq only seven days to comply if it is adopted demands and it is said to include a demand that Iraq allow the deployment of a protection force for the inspectors. The new bill is reported to include a clause giving the Iraqis only thirty days to declare their entire alleged arsenal of weapons mass destruction if the bill is accepted. In other words, Iraq will have no room to move and if it fails then military action will be the immediate next step.

If such a bill is passed then it is unlikely that Iraq will comply even if it does have something to hide. Nine years passed between the end of the Gulf War and the final withdrawal of the inspectors and the results achieved during that period were hardly spectacular. Given that there is still no resolution after all this time it is hard to see what the US hopes to achieve inside a mere thirty days. It is unlikely that the other members on the Security Council will accept such a resolution. Russia has already said that it opposes any new resolution and the Chinese have indicated that they fell the same way. Countries such as Germany and France argue that there is no proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or the capability and resolve to use them. Given that these countries have veto powers then the future for such a resolution looks very short indeed.

Nevertheless, the US and Britain will not change their minds on the issue of war with Iraq. Both governments have made it their number one priority and it is the perfect excuse for the US to demonstrate its will to engage in unilateral action as called for under the Bush Doctrine. This issue allows the British the opportunity to behave like a superpower and essentially wield influence that far outreaches their military and economic capabilities. For both Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush, it is the opportunity to divert attention from their domestic woes and provide their populaces with the image of a strong leader. The international arena is the place for them to enhance their standing and win votes at home whereas domestically they can easily fall down.

Even if these talks produce a timetable for the resumption of weapons inspectors along with a commitment from Iraq to co-operate, it is unlikely they will produce any resolution to this issue. Iraq continues to deny that it has weapons of mass destruction and will continue to do so even if the inspectors return. It would come as no surprise if the game of cat and mouse that was played throughout the 1990’s resumed again with allegations from one side countered by the other and the US and Britain assuring the rest of the world that Iraq is not complying with UN demands. This issue is a battle of national pride as much as anything else. At the end of the day, the Iraqi government and people see them the inspectors as nothing more that instruments in the US policy to disarm Iraq while the US and Britain see Saddam Hussein as leading a rogue state that must be eliminated. There are two sides of a debate that will not meet in the middle and these are the reasons why war in Iraq is becoming more inevitable as time goes by.

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