After three weeks of intensive round-the-clock, round-the-world negotiations that summoned all its diplomatic and moral power, the Clinton administration achieved these landmark results:
- The United Nations bowed Saddam Hussein back without any penalty whatsoever for forcing U.N. arms inspectors out of Iraq. You can understand his annoyance - they were getting too close to his hidden chemical and nuclear weaponry, particularly his germ warfare stocks.- No more was asked of Saddam than another implied promise to give inspectors full access to sites where the weapons were made or stored. He has broken those promises almost every day for more than six years since.
- Saddam was absolved of all the international crimes he had committed by forcing the inspectors out. These crimes included openly and derisively breaking the armistice and U.N. sanctions against him and smashing the U.N. inspection machinery long enough for him to make new batches of germ war weapons.
Will Western foreign offices at least now spare us lectures on the importance of bringing international criminals to trial? The Saddam story is like a murderer kicking the warden and his staff out of the prison, strolling out before worldwide TV and then supervising destruction of the jailhouse.
- Washington allowed - or begged - Russia and France to guide and lead the talks with Saddam. This neatly rewarded them for having betrayed the inspectors, the United States and the United Nations by repeatedly blocking action against him in the council.
America's decision to make France and Russia the leaders gave Moscow prestige in the Mideast greater than any time since the Kremlin was chief arms supplier to the Arabs. It made Yevgeny Primakov the most influential foreign "diplomat" in the Mideast, the same Yevgeny who was such a passionate admirer of Iraq when he was a big man in the KGB. He still is, now that he is also Russian foreign minister.
America's agreement to the ascension of Russia and France guarantees their increased pressure for ending the trade sanctions against Saddam. They lust for this so that they can begin collecting on the contracts with Iraq they already have signed.
Watch that last one - it's Saddam's only goal about the United Nations. That's the key to the deal.
No, the United States says; it is not a deal, it is a "resolution."
The wide-eyed excuse from Clinton will be that it avoided the United States taking military measures against Saddam, such as bombing his germ warfare sites.
True, just as the arming of Saddam by 500 Western companies avoided Western military action against him, until he invaded Kuwait.