Provocations by Iraq U.S. goals: Prevent mass weapons, keep world together, isolate dictator.

November 14, 1997

SADDAM HUSSEIN keeps his eye on the prize, looks for opportunities, forgets nothing and maintains endless patience. The United States, and the United Nations, should do no less.

He apparently wants to maintain Iraq's core ability to produce disease and nerve gas and missiles capable of transporting them hundreds or thousands of miles. The U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with dismantling such capabilities suspects so and is unable to recommend an end to (( its mission.

Saddam's objective also includes isolating the U.S. from allies and from moderate Islamic states and driving wedges between them. And he wants to restore Iraq's sovereign right to sell as much oil as world markets will absorb. Thus, he was quick to note the desire of France and Russia to participate in joint oil ventures.

The opposition of France, Russia, China and Egypt to minor ratchets of the sanctions emboldened Iraq's tyrant to throw U.S. personnel of UNSCOM out of his country. This has closed the operation and put Iraq in rogue-state status. UNSCOM has asked the U.S. to continue flying U-2 spy plane flights. If Saddam Hussein makes good his threat to shoot at U-2 planes, U.S. planes will respond.

The time is past when the U.S. alone can dictate U.N. policy on Iraq. The U.S. is no longer paying dues, maintaining forces or otherwise behaving as the world's policeman. U.S. willingness to dilute Wednesday's Security Council resolution in order to keep the coalition alive was proper. This country should not allow itself to be outsmarted by Saddam Hussein.

UNSCOM showed solidarity with its U.S. personnel. The challenge to the Security Council is to get UNSCOM back on the job inside Iraq. The U.S. must show the patience of a great power. The object of the exercise is to isolate Iraq, not the U.S.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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