- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

When Secretary of State Colin L. Powell goes before the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to make a case for using force to disarm Iraq, he will face a more daunting task than the U.S. envoy did during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, analysts say.
The Cuban crisis was vastly different in substance, historical context and consequences, they point out.
More than 40 years ago, Adlai Stevenson, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, shocked the world by showing the Security Council reconnaissance photographs proving that the Soviets had deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba.
If major U.S. allies deny support for military action against Iraq and Washington acts unilaterally against Baghdad, the long-term costs to the United States could be "huge," argued Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"Already, the U.S. policy is weakening the major alliance we have in the world, that in Europe," Mr. Cirincione warned. "A brutal invasion that kills thousands of Iraqis could shatter that alliance forever."
By all accounts, the stakes for Mr. Stevenson in the Cuban crisis were not nearly as high.
When the matter reached the Security Council, Washington and Moscow already were engaged in secret bargaining through a back communications channel opened by President Kennedy's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
It fell to Mr. Stevenson to provide the fireworks, a task at which he excelled.
"Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba?" the U.S. envoy thundered at his Soviet counterpart, Valerian Zorin. "Yes or no? Don't wait for the translation. Yes or no?"
The Russian never got a chance to recover from the onslaught.
Lined up in the council chamber were blown-up U.S. satellite pictures of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.
All of it made for good television but was of little practical use. As the Soviet Union wielded veto power in the council, there was never any hope for a resolution authorizing use of force.
Mr. Stevenson's fiery speech also was seen by some more as an attempt to ward off a draft condemning the United States for a naval quarantine of Cuba than an attempt to embarrass the Soviets.
"I think the quarantine and the mobilization of American naval and air forces, and ground forces in Florida, probably had more impact on Nikita Khrushchev than the Security Council business," said Helmut Sonnenfeldt, a former U.S. diplomat now with the Brookings Institution, referring to the former Soviet leader.
Mr. Powell is unlikely to be that fortunate, according to Mr. Sonnenfeldt.
"Secretary Powell's presentation will be much slicker and much less substantive," opined Mr. Cirincione. "Secretary Powell does not have the kind of evidence the U.S. had on Cuba."
In the absence of a real "smoking gun," experts expect to see a lot of circumstantial evidence.
They say the Bush administration is likely to furnish such proof as satellite pictures of trucks near Iraqi weapons facilities and transcripts of electronic intercepts, as well as what they say is evidence of al Qaeda presence inside Iraq.

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