Butler to Push Baghdad's Buttons

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Can Richard Butler reheat a soufflé? The Iraq weapons-inspection standoff, which looked set to explode into war last November, has been edged off front pages despite remaining unresolved. Now the chief U.N. weapons inspector looks set to bring the crisis once more to a head by demanding access to a "presidential" site deemed off-limits by Baghdad.

"Iraq has made it very clear that they don't intend to budge unless more pressure is applied," says TIME correspondent William Dowell — which puts the situation back to where it was in November, except that diplomacy will have been shown to have failed. "There's a massing of military force in the Gulf right now, enough to make Saddam blink," says Dowell. "If he doesn't back down, there will be a strong argument for using it."

It's not going to happen this week, which is unfortunate for those tempted to introduce the "Wag the Dog" analogy -- a president bedeviled by scandal turning to war as a diversion. However, adds Dowell, "the pieces are clearly falling into place for a confrontation."