to proceed
We respectfully disagree with Maine’s Democratic lawmakers who support an anti-war resolution. The case has convincingly been made to proceed against Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation Wednesday was dramatic.

U.N. weapons inspectors have been trooping across miles of countryside and combing through a massive amount of paperwork, looking for evidence that Saddam Hussein is subverting United Nations’ directives to disarm. If Powell’s presentation was based on paperwork alone, there may be lingering questions, but satellite photos and phone conversations clearly demonstrating Iraq’s purposeful noncompliance are conclusive.

On Friday, Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said he favors disarmament through the inspection process rather than armed conflicts, and believes President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair agree with him. However, he stressed that the “disarmament process requires active cooperation from Iraq, both on process and substance.”

We’re not going to get that.

There is no indication that Hussein honors peaceful negotiation or respects world pleas to disarm, and there is evidence that Iraq has active links to al-Qaida.

The threat a defiant Iraq poses is real.

Part of the reason Iraq is so cavalier about world pressure to disarm is because Hussein has suffered and survived this pressure before.

In 1998, Defense Secretary William Cohen said “we’re not playing games,” as the U.S. military made preparations to move against Iraq after U.N. weapons inspectors were hindered in their work. Arab foreign ministers issued a joint statement that Iraq’s continued refusal to cooperate with the United Nations “could have serious consequences for the Arab country,” and then-President Clinton was prepared to strike.

There was a lot of posturing, but the world backed off. Cried wolf.

We helped create this unrepentant Hussein by talking crisis, making threats and being too timid to act.

In recent days, Hussein has authorized the use of chemical weapons, proof that he has an arsenal and the means to deploy it. In response, the Bush administration increased the terrorist alert from yellow to orange – elevated to high – Friday.

We must force Iraq’s compliance.

The work ahead of the United States in the coming days and weeks is to gain the full and committed support of allies, line up the world to confront Iraq.

Public opinion in the United States already favors military action provided action is launched with support from the United Nations. We don’t want to go it alone.

We won’t have to.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledges that “terrorism is a menace that requires a global response” and favors increased United Nations support.

The Brits are fully behind us. Turkey is reluctant but ready if it can be protected. Spain, Australia, Italy and Portugal are convinced. Iran would still prefer to see the U.N. inspections continue and France, Germany and Russia, although unsettled by Powell’s presentation, are not convinced military force is the best solution.

If Iraq is to comply, the world has to turn as one and force disarmament.

It’s an unsavory solution to employ war to achieve peace. The alternative, leaving Hussein unleashed, is worse.

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