All for One, One for All

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UNITED NATIONS: Chief weapons inspector Richard Butler has ordered nearly all his team out of Iraq, after Baghdad announced that American inspectors would be expelled, effective immediately. Cheered on by the White House, Butler said he would "resist this segregation" and leave nothing but a skeleton UNSCOM staff in Iraq.

Whether a touching display of unity or a recognition of realpolitik, Butler's action puts the crisis on a new plane. The U.N., as well as the U.S., has been snubbed. Will Clinton now launch a long-awaited air strike? Not just yet, says TIME State Department correspondent Dean Fischer. “In the short term, the administration is going to continue going the diplomatic route. They’re not likely to mount an attack on Iraq at this stage.”

For now, this means going back to the Security Council — as Ambassador Bill Richardson will do Thursday afternoon — to seek stronger action. The reason for sustaining diplomatic efforts, says Fischer, is that key Gulf War allies like France and Russia still remain opposed to military action. “The U.S. will demonstrate to the world that it has exhausted every diplomatic possibility before using force.” Then again, there can't be many steps left on that extra mile for peace.