U.S. Bombs While the U.N. Schemes

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NEW YORK: While the mini-war in Iraq continues to sputter -- a U.S. plane in the no-fly zone dropped another bomb Friday morning after being fired on by Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles -- the U.N. is still looking for a way back into the game. On Friday the Security Council is expected to release the composition of a review panel that is to assess Iraq's cooperation with the U.N. since 1991. TIME U.N. reporter Stewart Stogel says the panel is "a dog bone being thrown to Iraq to get the U.N. inspectors back into Baghdad," and -- big surprise -- Richard Butler has not been invited to join the new team.

Special Report Butler, who penned report after scathing report detailing Saddam's obstruction of UNSCOM inspectors charged with reducing his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, is being sacrificed to put Baghdad in a better mood about outside interference. The panel itself was demanded by Hussein last fall, in the hopes that a positive report on Iraqi cooperation would start the ball rolling toward some lifting of the U.N. sanctions. But Butler or no Butler, says Stogel, "that will not be the case." And without that carrot, Baghdad is now refusing to cooperate with anything the panel decides to do. Which leaves the U.N. firmly planted where it has been since December's air strikes -- on the sidelines -- and the U.S. where the air strikes left it: lodged, perhaps inextricably, in a military scuffle it has no good way to win.