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Countries need to join U.S. in stand against Hussein, Iraq

Nov. 18, 1997

Despite some dire predictions on the part of President Clinton and beltway pundits, the focus was on diplomacy again yesterday in the conflict between Iraq and the United States and its reluctant allies. Washington officials are fervently trying to organize a coalition against Iraq similar to that which challenged Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Unfortunately, France and Russia -- both nominally U.S. allies and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- have been averse to taking a strong diplomatic stand against Iraq, and thus have blunted any political attacks Clinton has tried to engineer through the U.N. If the U.S. does end up going to war against Iraq, much of the blame will be laid at the feet of the French and Russians.

The British have stood with Clinton through much of the constantly-intensifying war of rhetoric, but objections by the French and Russians have already forced the U.S. to tone down statements it wished to send through the U.N. When these nations are not even willing to speak harshly against Iraq, Hussein can assume that they would not support the U.S. in a military conflict, thus blunting the edge of any diplomatic thrust.

The irony is manifest: by refusing to make a diplomatic stand, France and Russia could force the U.S. and whatever allies it can acquire into a full-scale war when a united diplomatic front might have sufficed to fulfill a goal -- the elimination of Iraqi chemical weapons' capacity --which will only make the world safer for Americans, French and Russians alike.

-- From the Brown Daily Herald, Providence, R.I.

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