Windbags and War

And so it begins.

The White House last night began to build its case that Saddam Hussein was already defying the United Nations.

It said Iraq’s repeated attempts to fire on American and British aircraft in the no-fly zones amounted to a “material breach” of the latest Security Council resolution.

I think we all know by now what “material breach” means. To the US — you know, the guys with all the tanks and planes and stuff, ie, the people who count — it means war.

What I found most interesting this weekend, albeit in an obvious way, is how the new UN resolution is being viewed in the White House versus UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan. Annan was on the news Friday or Saturday, explaining how he hoped, for the sake of peace of course, that the inspections were “thorough” and “complete” and “given a chance to work.”

In other words, Annan sees the new inspections regime as a way to forestall Iraq’s disarmament and prevent any regime change. His language is that of further delay and obfuscation.

In the White House (notice I didn’t say, “in Washington”), the resolution is little more than a nifty way of keeping the proponents of delay and obfuscation off out backs while we move men and material to the Middle East, and rebuild our supply of JDAMs and cruise missiles.

December 8 is, as others have noted, the key date. The White House will build its case over the next three weeks, building up to the crescendo of dropping bombs.

The whole process will feel tedious to those of us who know this war — however undesirable — is both necessary and just. The diplomacy will seem pointless at best, and a needless opportunity given to our political foes to hector and namecall and cloud the issue.

But the legal issues were settled on Friday. The important issues will be settled by force of arms, sometime after 12-8-2002.