Memo To: Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Straight Talk on Iraq
Well, it looks like we are back in another crisis over the arms inspections. Once again UNSCOM has been successful in provoking Iraq into appearing non-cooperative. This time Baghdad refuses to turn over documents it says it does not have. And it refuses to permit the inspectors to rummage around in the political headquarters of the Ba'ath Party, a private organization that houses only records which might be useful to those who are organizing the international effort to subvert and overthrow the Baghdad regime. Yours is the only voice of sanity left, which might avoid military action that I've always believed would lead to horrific unintended consequences.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to read in Tuesday morning's NYTimes that you have decided to criticize Superpower USA for the shameful way it has been behaving toward the United Nations in the Iraq matter. For President Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, to be running around calling for the overthrow of the Baghdad regime of Saddam Hussein in itself should warrant the condemnation of the United Nations. It is a puzzle to me why the several Arab or Islamic governments in the region do not attempt to pass a resolution of censure through the General Assembly. The problem with the United States, sir, is that our political establishment has lost its capacity to rationally debate U.S. foreign policy toward Iraq. It has done such a good job of demonizing Saddam that none of the congressional leaders of either political party are prepared to stand up and ridicule a policy that now states flat out that we will never support the lifting of the oil embargo against Iraq — no matter how cooperative the government is with UNSCOM inspectors.
We are in essence telling Saddam after eight years of sanctions that unless he scale the heights of the World Trade Center barefoot, we will not lift the sanctions because he will be hurled off the tower once he gets there. The more you point this out in your interviews, the more irrational criticism you will get from our political elites for interfering in our mindless power plays, but if you do not speak out, who will? If the Emperor has no clothes, the UN General Secretary should speak to his nakedness.
P.S. I'm also delighted to see in the Times that you have taken a slap at chief inspector Richard Butler, for his "megaphone diplomacy." I think you should dock his pay every time he shows his face on our talk shows. He is supposed to be out inspecting, not making speeches solely meant to provoke Baghdad into making angry statements.