Baghdad’s defiance creates a major headache for the Clinton administration. There is no groundswell of support in the U.N. Security Council for military action — and, says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson, “any response that they can get everyone to agree on will likely be ineffective.” This leaves Clinton with the uncomfortable option of ordering unilateral military action.
Even then, what can he do? “Cruise missile attacks don’t really hurt Saddam," Thompson says. "They’re a survivable military action.” Worse still, if they fail to change Saddam’s behavior, the White House could be forced to raise the stakes by attacking the military facilities Iraq has continually denied them access to — risking discord in the international alliance. Which is, of course, exactly what Saddam is looking for. If only he would shoot down the U-2, it would certainly expedite matters.