Iraq Crisis: U.S. Chooses Restraint

  • Share
  • Read Later
UNITED NATIONS: In a move certain to disappoint cruise-missile-wielding jingoists everywhere, the United States has signaled its willingness to deal with Iraq through the Security Council and to hold off on military action until it gets international backing. That puts a decisive resolution to the current crisis out of the question, since, as TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson believes, "any response they can get everyone to agree on will likely be ineffective."

Indeed, as U.N. inspectors were again barred from Iraqi weapons facilities Tuesday the eighth time in nine days argument raged in New York over what level of threat to put in the Security Council travel-ban resolution. American and British diplomats want the suggestion of "serious consequences"; France and Russia think such language is too harsh. "We don't believe that any threat or use of force is going to help things," Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov said Monday.

Still, the U.S. seems to be leaving itself a back door. If the council refuses to go along with the threat of violence, U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson warned, "all bets are go, all options are open." If Saddam makes an attempt on any one of the U-2 planes now flying over Iraq, that back door could swing wide open.