Iraq War of Words Drags On

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BAGHDAD: At least the war of words is becoming more imaginative: Back during the standoff last month, Madeleine Albright called Saddam Hussein a “congenital liar,” and Tariq Aziz fired back: “It is she who is the liar.” Now, if nothing else, the two sides are becoming more loquacious: President Clinton called Saddam “maddeningly stupid” Monday, while Iraqi newspapers retorted Wednesday that Clinton was an “ugly adolescent” who has turned the White House into “a nightclub where he plays the music himself on the flute and guitar.”

So much for diplomatic niceties. When it comes to resolving the Iraq crisis, precisely nothing has changed since U.N. inspectors returned last month. That much became clear Thursday when chief weapons inspector Richard Butler briefed the Security Council on Iraq’s continued refusal to allow him access to presidential compounds. The Security Council itself hasn’t changed, either — France, Russia and China are still not willing to sanction any military punishment. All of which keeps the standoff ticking over, and the insults jockeying back and forth. Word to Saddam: Just keep Buddy out of it.