The first cutoff date is Dec 7. By then the world will know if Iraq's Saddam Hussein intends to comply with the United Nations Security Council's demand that he dismantles his weapons of mass destruction. It is thus really up to Saddam now. If he cooperates fully and unreservedly, he will lose his weapons but keep his head; if he does not, he will lose both.
But what if he half-cooperates? It is more than likely that he will make a show of cooperation, but try to run the clock out with half measures and evasions, in the hope that divisions among the permanent five in the Security Council will prevent the U.S. from invading.
Saddam and his crew should realize that whatever disagreements may exist among the big powers, they are merely cosmetic. Baghdad also should take seriously Mr. Bush's warning last Friday that the U.S. would be prepared to act alone if the Security Council, for some reason, failed to enforce its threat of "serious consequences" if Iraq failed to disarm.
... Establishing an international consensus is difficult, as the past weeks have shown, but in the long run, the U.S. will benefit if it takes the multilateral, not unilateral, route.
-- Straits Times, Singapore
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