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Air strikes against Iraq offer too little, too late

-- Berliner Zeitung, Berlin, Germany - Feb. 19

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is no innocent and is certainly a threat to peace -- but not just since yesterday.

And it's not the first time since the Gulf War in 1991 that the Americans and British have attacked Iraqi targets. ...

Because these punishment measures deterred Saddam only in the short term, they already raised questions.

The criticism after this latest action is stronger because it raises the issue of the aims of President George W. Bush as well as concern over peace in the Middle East. ...

Bush's order for strikes comes too late to fix a mistake by his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

After airstrikes in 1998, Clinton failed to force the continuation of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. ...

Even then, carrying on the surveillance could only have been achieved by political means. Clinton capitulated in front of NATO and U.N. disunity on the question of keeping in place inspections and sanctions.

In view of the obstruction, above all from Moscow and Paris, picking up the old policy is going to be difficult.

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