Another Drumbeat

James Baker goes over the pros and cons and lands squarely on the side of toppling Saddam:

But let us have no illusions. Armed conflict is never cost-free. With good planning and some luck, losses will be low. But there will be casualties among American and allied servicemen and women as well as Iraqi civilians. In addition, war can create dynamics that are difficult to predict and control. This is particularly true of the Middle East, where a U.S.-led campaign against Iraq may give rise to even more anti-American sentiment.

Yet we cannot allow the real risks associated with acting against Iraq to paralyze us. They must be balanced against the risks of inaction–in this case, a future nuclear, biological or chemical attack against the U.S., its allies, or Iraq’s neighbors. We cannot permit Iraq to become another North Korea. Leadership is not about making easy decisions. It is about making right ones. When it comes to Iraq, the administration has made the right one. With Secretary Powell’s mission to the U.N., it is now up to the Security Council to make the right one as well.

Don’t let that last line fool you. Baker argues early on that a UNSC authorization is nice, but not necessary, saying that

The case for military action is therefore compelling. It cannot be deferred indefinitely as Iraq continues to play its cat-and-mouse game with U.N. inspectors. Nor can it be held hostage to lowest-common-denominator consensus in the Security Council. Yet the administration is absolutely right in going the last mile and sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to consult again with the Security Council and lay out, commensurate with protection of intelligence assets, further evidence of Saddam’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Not bad for a former creature of the State Department.