The facts are no longer in dispute: Saddam Hussein has not disarmed. He continues to possess disease and chemical weapons. He continues — as he has for more than two decades — to attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.
Saddam is determined to conceal his weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He is actively attempting to deceive U.N. inspectors and the entire international community. He remains in material breach — in violation — of numerous Security Council resolutions, and of the obligations he undertook in exchange for a suspension of the Gulf War of 1991 and in order to be permitted to remain in power, ensconced in his luxurious palaces.
Also beyond doubt and debate: Saddam has brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. He authorizes torture and rape. He has trained terrorists in such arcane skills as aircraft-hijacking. He sponsors Palestinian terrorist organizations and harbors al Qaeda members and collaborators.
All this and more, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the U.N. this morning in a confident manner and a concerned tone. For the first time ever, Powell served up the fruits of human intelligence, signal intelligence, and photo reconnaissance for the world to consume and digest. The case he made was multifaceted — more complex than the case Adlai Stevenson made when he demonstrated that the Soviet Union was installing missiles in Cuba. But it was no less compelling or persuasive.
If, nevertheless, some U.N. members — including even the French — cannot move beyond their tried-and-failed policies of inaction and appeasement, if they cannot bring themselves to endorse military action to stop Saddam from growing his weapons arsenals and expanding his terrorism, then shame on them for their cowardice and capacity for self-delusion.
As Powell rightly reminded us, rogue dictators who both seek WMD and sponsor terrorism are the 21st century’s greatest threat to peace, security, and civilization itself.
If the U.N. — which failed to act to stop slaughters of Cambodians and Rwandans, which has repeatedly worsened crises in the Middle East and elsewhere — refuses to recognize such an obvious truth, then the U.N. must be seen for what it has become: an organization every bit as irrelevant and impotent as was the League of Nations.
And if the American and European Left, despite all the evidence, continues — explicitly or implicitly — to defend Saddam, to provide human and intellectual shields for fascism and jihadism, then reasonable people must view the Left for what it has become: a corrupted and dying movement.
— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times Washington and foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank on terrorism.