- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) — If the U.S. government really wants to get a U.N. resolution that would put Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in a box, here is how to do it. And if the French really want to beef up inspections, here is how to do that, too.

The method is by making stronger specific demands on Iraq, ranging from overflights and U.N. forces inside Iraq to out-of-country interviews of scientists, and to create a veto-proof mechanism for follow-up resolutions including the use of force.

At present, no U.S. resolution can pass the Security Council without France, Russia and China — all of whom have vetoes as council permanent members — on board, and no French resolution without the United States on board. A strong resolution will have to serve both sides.

A resolution for use of force simply won't pass at this time. The attempt would end up so watered down, at most declaring a "material breach," and would so obviously be attained not by persuasion but by arm-twisting, that it would surely fail in its purpose of legitimizing the war and minimizing the global backlash.

However, a much more effective resolution could be passed if a different tack were followed.

Where the French and Germans have gone wrong is not in proposing to send in U.N. peacekeepers and have "enforced inspections," but in stopping at that, and suggesting a timetable whose rigidities could become a source of weakness. A lot more will be needed.

It isn't useless for the United Nations to demand more. Iraq has almost always given in after 1991 when the U.N.'s demands have been clear and specific, even while looking for new ways to evade the intentions of the demands. If there are strong demands, and a Security Council capacity to promptly add more demands when needed, the paths for evasion can be closed off.

The crux of the matter is for the Security Council to authorize itself to fix the holes in its own package as fast as they are discovered, without any vetoes to obstruct it. This means that it will have to be able to decide by simple majority votes on every kind of follow-up, including the use of force. This proviso turns any U.N. timetable into a constraint on Saddam, as it ought to be, not on the United Nations and the United States.

Here is how the resolution would look, give or take a few points:

— The Security Council grants the following authority for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, Inspection Commission and supporting coalition forces:

— Overflight of all of Iraq by every kind of plane, with Iraq bearing responsibility to guarantee security for these planes.

— Greater subpoena power for the UNMOVIC arms inspectors, including the authority to require, not just invite, Iraqi scientists and technicians to be interviewed privately, and to go to Geneva along with their extended families for interview and stay there as long as UNMOVIC deems necessary in order to overcome the effects of the Iraqi regime's threats against scientists and their families.

— Authority for UNMOVIC to supervise, as long as it wants, the use of any facilities involved or suspected of involvement in weapons of mass destruction programs and the employment and whereabouts of any scientists and technicians suspected of such involvement.

Iraq must cooperate fully and proactively on all these points.

The Security Council authorizes UNMOVIC and cooperating national forces to carry out all aforementioned steps, using U.N. peacekeepers and coalition military forces to enforce these measures if Iraq does not cooperate. For peacekeepers, the "rules of engagement" will be to enforce these steps and rebuff any hints or threats of force against UNMOVIC, not neutral rules as in some past peacekeeping operations.

Iraq will bear the full burden of the responsibility and the consequences if it chooses to interpose any forces to obstruct the United Nations at any point or if there is any escalation into physical conflict. Coalition forces in the region are authorized to back up peacekeepers if necessary; peacekeepers will not be allowed to become hostages.

Finally, the Security Council has the authority to follow up on this resolution by votes without vetoes. By adopting this resolution, the members define a sphere consisting of all future resolutions supplementing the present one — this being understood to encompass any resolutions on further compliance requirements to plug loopholes found within this one, or on further enforcement measures including use of force — within which they waive any right of veto and empower the council to decide on a basis of simple majority rule."

The result of such a resolution would be to give the Security Council both the strength to be firm and impose its will, and at the same time the flexibility for diplomacy and for maximizing such prospects as there are for achieving its goal without war.

Britain and France could propose the resolution. Or the United States and Russia.

If this resolution were adopted and implemented on a rapid timeframe, the United States could pull back from war, while keeping its forces in the region as a deterrent against backsliding into noncompliance.

(Ira Straus is senior associate at the Program on Transitions to Democracy in Washington and U.S. coordinator of the Committee for Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO. [email protected])

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