Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Delaying War Is the Best Option

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Delaying War Is the Best Option

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL QUINLAN

WE are into the endgame in dealing with Iraq. There are basically four possible outcomes. The best result - Outcome One - is for Saddam Hussein to co-operate in full disarmament. But it is hard to believe that his slow striptease will ever lay bare everything he has hidden. Given that, the next best - Outcome Two - miserable though it is, is for the Security Council to pass a fresh resolution effectively authorising Saddam's removal. There is no reason to despair of this outcome. But it is plainly on a knife-edge.

In Outcome Three the US goes to war without a new resolution. Outcome Four, however, accepts that without fresh UN authority there can be no invasion, or not for a long time to come. The solid central reason for action remains that we cannot let Saddam go on getting away with ignoring the direct disarmament bargain with the UN which lightened his defeat in the 1991 war.

But it would be bizarre to put right that wrong by action which itself flouted the UN, as Outcome Three would. Last November's Security Council Resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be taken as giving the US the right to define and implement the "serious consequences" it mentioned if the Council had more recently refused to endorse that. To go ahead with invasion in such circumstances would do immense long-term harm to UN authority. We know that the Security Council system is imperfect, but it has held the field, and notched up important successes, for over half a century.

Mr Bush may well regard that as a pity but not much more than that. Mr Blair, however, has to recognise that it would be a calamity. Outcome Three would also deepen the difficulties of post-war tasks, because the invasion would lack political and moral legitimacy.

Outcome Four would throw responsibility back where it belongs - upon the UN itself. …

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