- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2003

Last week the Bush administration announced that it would push promptly, perhaps as early as this week, for the United Nations Security Council to lift its economic sanctions on Iraq. But, over the weekend, it had second thoughts, with a "senior administration official" announcing on background that it could take months of bridge-building before the U.S. seeks a sanctions resolution. The president should stick with his first thought. The interests of the Iraqi people, the American taxpayers and President Bush's intention to revive the credibility of the United Nations hang in the balance.
The chronology of events is worth reviewing briefly. In 1991, after the first Persian Gulf War, the Security Council passed Resolution 687, which placed broad economic sanctions on Iraq until U.N. weapons inspectors determined that that country was free of weapons of mass destruction and it had compensated Kuwait for its injuries during the first war.
In 1995, the sanctions were modified for the purpose of permitting Iraq, under U.N. supervision, to sell some oil in exchange for food and medical supplies for the Iraqi people. Then, Saddam while illegally and covertly converting much of those revenues for his own military purposes started an international propaganda campaign claiming that the sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children every year. The United States continued to insist on them, while France, Russia and millions of useful idiots around the world clamored to end the sanctions to in order to "end the suffering of the Iraqi people."
Now that Saddam's regime has been eliminated, and the United States has asked the United Nations to lift the sanctions so that the rebuilding of Iraq can begin, France and Russia have reversed their position and insist that the sanctions be maintained until the U.N.'s "central role" in rebuilding Iraq has been assured. In other words, they were against sanctions when Saddam ruled Iraq, but are for them now that the U.S. and Britain are trying to rebuild that long-suffering nation.
This is not only hypocrisy on a colossal scale, but also naked blackmail holding the Iraqi people's economic improvement and the American taxpayer hostage until the United States capitulates and lets France and Russia in on the postwar profits. Why in the world would President Bush want to "build a bridge" to a building full of blackmailers?
The United States should push for a prompt Security Council vote to lift the sanctions and let France and Russia actually veto it after having been on the record calling for the end of sanctions for months. Casting such vetoes would be a public-relations disaster for France and Russia. But more important than public relations, acquiescing to such cynical abuse of the U.N. system would not only reward France after its disgraceful behavior of the last six months, but would also defeat any hope we might have of genuinely reforming the United Nations. The French and their partners would then be able to snigger that even the mighty United States could not afford the cost of standing on its principles and had to come as a supplicant to France to gain international legitimacy and the flow of international money for the rebuilding of Iraq. Whatever the cost of avoiding such Gallic hauteur will be dollars well-spent. Damn the French blackmailer, Mr. President, full speed ahead.

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