In a press conference yesterday President Bush made a cryptic comment that if Saddam Hussein complies with the UNSC resolutions, then that means “the regime has changed.” He also signaled a newfound respect for diplomacy.
“We’ve tried diplomacy,” Mr. Bush said when asked about the issue today. “We’re trying it one more time. I believe the free world, if we make up our mind to, can disarm this man peacefully.”
At the same time he said, “The stated policy of our government, the previous administration and this administration, is regime change — because we don’t believe he is going to change.”
“However, if he were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I’ve described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed.”
Those were the last words of the brief Oval Office appearance, and aides shooed reporters out before they could ask follow-up questions.
At the same time that the U.S. is trying diplomacy “one more time,” it is growing increasingly impatient with the Security Council on resolutions authorizing force against Iraq if — when? — it fails to meet demands.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly confused by all of this.
Which may be the point. A little ambiguity, some might call it madness, in foreign affairs can sometimes be a good thing. Nixon was said to be very good at this, convincing the Russians and the Chinese that he was so damn crazy he might just blow the hell out of them. But this is a different time and shouldn’t the American people be kinda, you know, informed every once in a while? Seeing as we’re a democracy ‘n’ stuff.
Or it may be that Bush keeps raising the hurdles for Saddam so that the dictator is bound to fail. Open up the country to weapon inspectors? Got it. Release some prisoners? Yup. Now, I don’t want to feel sympathetic for Saddam Husein. I don’t want to think, “Poor guy, he can’t win for losing,” but Bush’s drumbeat of war booms steadily, and the policy toward Iraq shows the same inflexibility and doubletalk that characterized Bush’s economic policy (which, according to The Onion, involves overthrowing Saddam.)