If you havent read Kenneth Pollacks “The Threatening Storm,” or youve been paying more attention to the NFL than the Middle East for the last few months, Colin Powells hour-long presentation Wednesday before the United Nations summed up the overwhelming case against Saddam Hussein.
The secretary of state, and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made some things very clear: Just pointing with alarm wont do anymore. Nor will dispatching more U.N. inspectors to find little or nothing. The time for the U.N.s Inspector Clouseaus and Mister Magoos has almost run out. It is time to act. Before the world is facing not just a dangerous megalomaniac but a dangerous megalomaniac with nukes.
Then there are the scary chemical and biological arsenals that Saddam Hussein has been busy not quite hiding from spy satellites, radio interceptions and American and Western intelligence in general. Mr. Powells evidence was overwhelming, and you know theres a lot more of it where that came from in the still classified files.
It is not Colin Powell whose word is at stake here; it is the will of the United Nations. That debating society can act, or it can join the League of Nations in the museum the latest example of the worlds failure to build an effective system of collective security.
Mr. Powell demonstrated something else besides Saddam Husseins perfidy. He demonstrated good faith. He shared some valuable intelligence with the United Nations, possibly jeopardizing means that might have been of considerable value in the coming war with Iraq. The administrations decision to go public with some of these revelations may have been the only debatable aspect of the presentation.
But a nation founded on “a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind” could do nothing less. This country has gone the extra mile and then some to make its case.
Its no secret that Mr. Powell has been the most influential voice in the administrations counsels urging the president and commander-in-chief to go through the United Nations before taking action against this clear and ever present danger. Well, the secretary of state won out, and, whatever happens now, this country and a “Coalition of the Willing” at our side will have given the United Nations every chance to disarm Iraq. If it does not, it will have chosen irrelevance over action, just as its predecessor did.
Mr. Powells comprehensive case may have persuaded all those open to reason and experience, but the dawdlers we will always have with us the appeasers at home and abroad, the Hate America crowd overseas, and of course the French and Germans, who seem bent on reliving the sad saga of the 30s.
Listening to the French foreign minister, the surreal question occurred: Was this the Security Council or a time warp? Wasnt this the voice of the Third Republic rather than the Fifth? The spirit of appeasement hovering over the Security Council was as thick as the sanctimony.
God bless the French, someone once said, theyre always there when they need us. Well, Lafayette, we have arrived twice this past century to rescue Europe, and that debt has been paid in full. With the blood of our finest. This country is not prepared to pay for Europes follies a third time, not after September 11.
It is time to move on with the new Europe at our side, and leave the old to hesitate, debate and generally wallow in indecision. Mr. Powell has now made the case for action. Clearly, comprehensively, conclusively. If the critical front in every recent conflict is the home front, Colin Powell may have just enlisted it in the war effort.