I pulled this out of my crystal ball. Want more?
Saddam Yields, but Could Gain From Western Disunity : No Clear Outcome Over Iraq
By Joseph Fitchett International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, February 24, 1998
In many ways, it was a model of gunboat diplomacy: The United States deployed an armada, concerned nations cajoled the recalcitrant Iraqis, and Baghdad backed down on UN arms inspections.
In other ways, skilled negotiators demonstrated the scope of peaceful diplomacy. The deal brokered by the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan β if approved by the Security Council β obtained Iraqi compliance, the result officially sought by all sides.
But the outcome did not feel as comfortably clear-cut or as cathartic as that.
Western and Arab diplomats said Monday that the process seemed to have opened a gap between the United States and Britain as proponents of force, and other countries, notably France and Russia, that stressed the need of avoiding military action at almost any cost.
This good cop-bad cop approach proved to be a formula for success in this crisis, the diplomats said. But they warned that divergences in emphasis might turn into a flaw that
the Iraqi regime could exploit when Washington seeks to rally continuing international efforts to contain Saddam Hussein.
Western governments did achieve their technical objective: getting Saddam Hussein to let the United Nations destroy or account for all his weapons of mass destruction.
From the U.S. viewpoint, the outcome seems to guarantee the completion of the UN inspections designed to provide as much information as possible about what Iraq had accomplished β and with whose help β in developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles.
If the confrontation had escalated to military strikes, much of the evidence might have been destroyed, and the chances of getting Baghdad to agree to the re-entry of UN inspectors would have been slim.
In that sense, the diplomatic deal is the best outcome for avoiding upheaval in the Gulf, even short-lived, and maintaining collective Western unity.
But Mr. Saddam also has reason to be satisfied. Even if only marginally, he has succeeded in easing the U.S. grip on his nation, according to diplomats in Paris from Arab countries hostile to the Iraqi leader.
As a result of the confrontation, progress in completing the arms inspections will be constantly exposed to sharper international scrutiny. When UN specialists wanted to give Iraq a clean bill of health in the nuclear area last summer, the Clinton administration blocked the move lest it ease Iraq's isolation.
In future, U.S. diplomats acknowledged, Washington will find it harder to maintain these tough unilateral tactics at the United Nations to keep maximum pressure on Iraq. Now France, Russia and other countries have promised to take a closer interest in the process, a change bound to increase the psychological pressure for accelerating the job.
The inspections might have been nearing their end anyway if Iraq had cooperated. Richard Butler, the commission's head, said recently that "we know the remaining questions to ask and we know that the Iraqis know the answers."
So within months, especially if more teams are put on the job, Iraq could have a clean bill of health. Without bending UN rules, Iraq's challenge has almost certainly brought the end of sanctions closer, Arab and European diplomats said.
The prospect alone is enough to improve Iraq's borrowing power and enhance Mr. Saddam's leverage.
For the United States and its European and Arab allies, the tactics that worked in this crisis β notably, U.S. readiness to wield the stick while most allies emphasized carrots β may backfire if they harden into divergent policies, diplomats said Monday.
Beyond finishing the current disarmament program in Iraq, as now seems feasible, the United Nations is then committed to enforcing long-term surveillance.
The Clinton administration "is never likely to have anything to do with Iraq as long as Saddam is alive," Samuel Berger, the national security adviser, said last weekend.
Echoing U.S. claims, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook of Britain cited the threat of military pressure as the key factor. "It is a justification of the strategy we have been pursuing: If there had been no pressure on Saddam we would not have got a deal."
In contrast, France β and to a greater degree, Russia β make no secret of their view that Iraq has the potential for becoming a political and commercial partner. Paris has claimed credit for "never giving up on peace," according to Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. He said this month that even if Iraq left the world no choice but armed force, France would not take part in the attack or provide military support.
French voters massively opposed air strikes, and the French authorities did almost nothing to persuade the public that Iraq's weapons programs posed a serious international threat β even though the French research laboratory specializing in chemical weapons corroborated the UN commission's alarmed conclusions about Iraq's capabilities.
The fact that a political solution now seems likely to be acceptable, even hailed in Washington, should promptly deflate the wilder caricatures of a trigger-happy superpower looking for a fight to draw attention from President Bill Clinton's domestic problems.
Even so, public opinion, especially outside the United States, seemed to lose confidence in Washington's ability to handle the crisis as the confrontation dragged on.
Partly a public relations problem, U.S. analysts said, the lack of solidarity with Washington may reflect a deeper trend in which European and Arab countries, conscious of their own shrinking capability to cope with foreign crises, tend to consider that force is not an effective option.