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Special report: The debate over whether to intervene in Iraq
Sanctions Overhaul Margaret Warner reports on the United Nations' decision to modify sanctions against Iraq. 05.14.02
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Making the Case For War Posted: 09.18.02
In a speech before the United Nations on Sept. 12, President George W. Bush urged the international community to force Iraq to disarm. However a new offer from Iraq may divide the U.S. from its allies and complicate the debate at home.
In his speech to the United Nations (U.N.) on Sept. 12,
President George W. Bush pushed the world community to enforce U.N.
sanctions against Iraq -- including rules that say Iraq must allow U.N.
inspectors into the country to check for weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Bush told the U.N. members "action will be unavoidable" against Iraq if world leaders don't increase their efforts to force Iraq to disarm.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said the president's speech was "full of lies." Within days, however, Iraq's foreign minister delivered a letter to the head of the U.N., Kofi Annan, saying Iraq would allow inspectors back into the country to search for biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration says the offer to readmit weapons inspectors is a trick to delay military action, but many international leaders want to give U.N. inspections a chance.
The push for international support
President Bush's speech to the U.N. seemed to ease some world leaders' concerns that the U.S. may try to go into Iraq alone. Many leaders were encouraged that the U.S. was gathering support before taking action against Iraq.
World leaders praised the president's speech and some countries, such as Australia, Egypt and Canada seemed to move towards the president's position that a tough stance against Iraq is necessary.
However, for the U.N. to support action against Iraq, a resolution must be approved by the Security Council. The U.N. Security Council, created in 1945 to express the will of the international community, is made up of representatives from 15 countries.
Most U.N. member countries rotate through the Security Council, but there are five permanent members -- the U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain and France -- that have the power to veto, or kill, any resolution.
The Bush administration has little faith that inspections will ensure Iraq's disarmament and is pressing ahead for a Security Council measure that could authorize a military attack against Saddam Hussein if Iraq does not follow the U.N.'s rules.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been a vocal ally and stands firm in his support to help the U.S. disarm Iraq, even if it means military action against Saddam's government.
After Iraq offered to allow inspectors back into the country, Blair urged world powers to keep up pressure on Iraq through a U.N. resolution, saying the hard-line approach had forced Saddam to agree to weapons inspections.
However, other permanent Security Council members are not convinced. France and Russia said the necessary resolutions are already in place, and the Russian foreign minister recently told reporters that he is willing to wait for the first report from a revived inspection team in about six months.
And there has been some vocal criticism, more recently from former South African president Nelson Mandela.
In a Newsweek magazine interview prior to President Bush's speech, Mandela said the U.S. has not proven that Saddam has any weapons.
"It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America," Mandela said.
Reactions from home
Increased international backing is just part of the puzzle. Whether
President Bush decides to act unilaterally (alone) or with the support
of the international community, he still needs to gather more support
at home, where Congress and the American people remain divided.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the Democrats would work with White House officials on the final document.
"[The Democrats will] work in concert with the administration -- Republicans and Democrats -- hopefully with the recognition that this ought to be done in the international arena," he said after meeting with the president.
A recent poll released by ABC News said 68 percent of the American public support military action against Iraq, an increase of 12 percentage points from August. That support drops to 51 percent, however, if U.S. allies are opposed.
-- By Raven Tyler, NewsHour Extra
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