Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Taking yes for an answer, with singular bad grace

As expected, the US refused to take yes for an answer from Iraq. The first US statement was that it is not about inspections, it is about disarmament. Well yes, but I detect somebody quietly raising the bar, and then complaining that Hussein is quibbling with UN orders. Colin Powell whined (but in that dignified way) that Iraq had complied but had failed to admit the “error of its ways” for the last 12 years.

By the way, did you know that Condi Rice calls pre-emptive attacks “anticipatory defence”?

One problem for the US is that the UN inspectors are no longer working for it, under changes made since the US was discovered to have infiltrated spies (and bugs) into the inspectorate, as I mentioned a few days ago, but which everyone else in the world has forgotten. This will make it harder for the US to create a crisis by, say, trying to “inspect” Saddam Hussein’s palaces. UNSCOM was in fact abolished in 1999. It was one of those humorous pretend UN agencies whose deputy chief, the guy really in charge, was always, always an American. The new agency is called UNMOVIC and doesn’t even use American satellites. Oddly enough, one of its trained inspectors, an expert in biological warfare, is Steven Hatfill, the anthrax guy.

The US is pushing hard for a new UN resolution, you may have noticed, with a deadline. The idea is a Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, so that the US only has to bribe Security Council members once, and then never again. It could just declare Iraq in violation and launch its war, when it feels like, on any evidence or none. The US would not only be jury, but judge and executioner, since it would decide how to respond to Iraqi violations. Maximum flexibility would reside with Shrub. This is the equivalent of what he wants Congress to give him: not a declaration of war, but a free hand to decide when and what to do.

And today Bush says "It's time to determine whether or not they [the UN] will be a force for good and peace or an ineffective debating society." He sure does know how to sweet-talk people he wants favors from, doesn’t he?

There will be a movie of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The director will be the guy who did the Austin Powers movies, which seems like a not very good fit to me.

From the Daily Telegraph, with no sense of irony:
“An 86-year-old war veteran died after a teenager robbed him of his takeaway meat pie, mushy peas and gravy in an act of "senseless street violence", a court heard yesterday.”

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