Regional diplomats pulled from Gulf; Blix continues to talk

While chief United Nations arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei journeyed to Baghdad to for “very substantial” talks, the United states pulled out all but its most senior diplomats from the Persian Gulf region. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday that France and Germany’s attempts to give inspectors more time were actually increasing the possibility of war rather than averting it.

While chief United Nations arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei journeyed to Baghdad to for “very substantial” talks, the United states pulled out all but its most senior diplomats from the Persian Gulf region . At the same time, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday that France and Germany’s attempts to give inspectors more time were actually increasing the possibility of war rather than averting it.
“There are those who counsel that we should delay preparations” for war against Iraq. “Ironically, that approach could well make war more likely, not less, because delaying preparations sends a signal of uncertainty,” Rumsfeld said in the opening address at an international conference on security policy.
We live in a topsy-turvy world. As Iraq makes concession after concession — Blix has managed to wring more documents, private interviews with scientists and possibly U-2 spy plane flights — London and Washington keep saying that Iraq is missing its chance to comply. With the 101st and a fifth carrier group dispatched to the region, and the removal of diplomats, it seems that war is, indeed, inevitable and Iraq has no reason to comply as President Bush has said, “The United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, will take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime.”
By the way, this part of Bush’s radio address — “We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad” — is mostly a lie. As I’ve pointed out several times, Iraq is not harboring Ansar al-Islam; that group has taken refuge in the Kurdish area on the Iranian border that’s under the protection of the RAF and the American Air Force. And if it runs a poison and explosive training camp, why doesn’t the United States bomb it as the PUK has requested on numerous occasions?
I realize I’ve become a broken record on this subject, but so has the White House. It has never strayed from its determination to invade and conquer Iraq since 1999 when then-Gov. Bush signed on to the idea. What have changed are the ever-shifting reasons for invading Iraq that Bush has trotted out. But as Thomas Friedman pointed out his column (registration required) not a single audience of Americans he talked to are ready to fight this war. “I understand what the Afghan war was about and would have volunteered with a pitchfork,” he quotes an everyman as saying. “But I just don’t get this war.”
Just wait a few weeks, Everyman. You’ll get this war — whether you want it or not.