War or Peace? The Choice is Iraq’s


By Jim Garamone, AFPS

WASHINGTON — "The choice between war and peace will not be made in Washington, or indeed in New York," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said. "It will be made in Baghdad, and the decision is facing the Iraqi regime."

The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program could itself be evidence of Iraq’s noncooperation, Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference.

He said the Iraqi government has designed weapon programs with denial and deception in mind. The programs can continue even as inspections progress. He stated the burden of proof is on Iraq to prove it is disarming and to show U.N. inspectors where the weapons are.

"It is not the responsibility of U.N. inspectors to find the weapons," he said. "It is not their duty nor do they have the ability to find weapons of mass destruction hidden in a vast country."

The United States stands ready to provide U-2 surveillance aircraft to the U.N. inspectors and has shared intelligence with them. Rumsfeld said the United States believes that U.N. inspectors should take Iraqi scientists and their families out of the country for questioning. That proved successful in the past, and he believes it would be the case today.

Still, President Bush has not made a decision on conflict with Iraq, and the United States continues to hope that Saddam Hussein "will change course and that Iraq will disarm peacefully and voluntarily. No one wants war," Rumsfeld said.

The secretary said the situation is a test for the United Nations. He stated that the credibility of the organization is at stake and likened the situation the international organization faces today to the one that faced its predecessor organization in 1936 when Italy invaded Abyssinia (today Ethiopia).

The League of Nations, formed after World War I, condemned the aggression, but did nothing against Italy. Adolf Hitler took note of the League’s vacillation and remilitarized the Rhineland. The League of Nations proved a paper tiger. Then-Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King said at the time, "Collective bluffing cannot bring about collective security."

Something akin to 1936 is facing the United Nations today, Rumsfeld said. Iraq freely agreed to comply with 16 U.N. resolutions. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, passed Nov. 8, 2002, declared Iraq in material breach of its agreements and declared itself that country’s "last chance" to cooperate with the international organization.

"The lesson is clear," Rumsfeld said.