Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan

Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan on the U.N. Trap. As Kristol and Kagan demonstrate, “the inspections process on which we are to embark is a trap. It may well be one that this powerful and determined president can get out of, but it is a trap nonetheless.” Under the U.N. Resolution, President Bush is obliged to participate in another U.N. debate before he uses troops. Thus, France has succeeded in getting the “two-step” process it demanded all along. Ultimately, Bush can go ahead and invade Iraq without the blessing of the Security Council, but he has always been free to do this. As Kristol and Kagan suggest, after dancing with the U.N. this long, it may be more difficult for Bush to ignore the U.N. down the road than it would have been to ignore it earlier on. Suppose Saddam does a little dancing too, and is able to provide enough access to satisfy Hans Blix (who doesn’t want a war any more than his Security Council backers do) without enabling the inspectors to find a smoking gun. Under these circumstances, won’t Bush face more substantial resistance to using force to effectuate regime change than if he had just proceeded with the invasion straight away? Kristol and Kagan remain confident that, at the appropriate time, President Bush will “thank the U.N. and our ‘allies’ for their efforts, and order his military to get about the urgent business of removing Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.” I share their confidence. But it would have been better to retain control of our foreign policy all along than to cede control to France, Russia, and Hans Blix, only to take it back after months of delay, assuming that we do.

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