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In Search Of A Smoking Gun

In Search Of A Smoking GunThe President says Saddam Hussein is deceiving, not disarming -- but according to Tufts experts, world leaders will likely need more evidence before they will support a U.S- led attack. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.30.03] In Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Bush made his message clear: Iraq's Saddam Hussein is deceiving the international community about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. While Bush appears convinced, many world leaders remain hesitant. Proof of Iraqi wrongdoing, say Tufts experts, is likely the key to a coalition of support from U.S. allies.

"No one thinks Saddam is a good guy," Hurst Hannum, an International Law professor at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, told the Boston Herald.

But the Tufts professor - who currently serves as a consultant to the United Nations negotiations on East Timor - says that without concrete proof that Iraq is actually harboring weapons of mass destruction, it will be difficult to secure backing of world powers.

"Without that smoking gun, Hannum said, the United States will be left to march a diplomatic tightrope if it declares war on Iraq - especially because some of America's key allies are backing away," reported the Herald. "He said there likely will be a ‘greater wariness' of the United States around the world in its future diplomatic efforts because President Bush has done a poor job of explaining to the world the need for war - without that smoking gun."

Jeswald Salacuse - the Henry J. Braker Professor of Law at the Fletcher School - agrees. The Tufts expert told the newspaper that the U.N. Security council will likely proceed with caution.

"I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on us not to be too precipitous in our actions," Salacuse told the Herald. The Tufts professor said he expects the Bush administration will continue preparations for war.

"I don't think it's going to stop the build-up and the inevitable result," the Tufts expert told the newspaper. "I think the chances are we're going to war, but not right away."

Which certainly squares with Bush's latest message to the public.

"We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding," the President said in his State of the Union address, watched by millions of viewers in America and millions more around the world. "If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."

Tufts' Salacuse said that the upcoming February 5th appearance of Secretary of State Colin Powell to present information and intelligence about Iraq's illegal weapons programs before the U.N. may be an attempt to appease the Security Council.

"It may be kind of a concession to our allies: ‘OK, you've asked us for more time, and we're going to give you more time," Salacuse told the Herald. "But I think we've made it clear we are not going to sit around for months."

But Tufts' Hannum told the Christian Science Monitor that Powell's effort may be in vain.

"[Hannum says] simply setting a date for another inspections report will not close the gap between the U.S. and its ‘allies and partners' over ultimate goals," reported the Monitor. "Everybody agrees that Mr. Hussein should be disarmed and his threats to the regions stability stopped, but beyond that there is little consensus."

The Tufts expert said that allies may not easily reach an agreement.

"While the Europeans agree with the limited goal [of disarming and containing Hussein], they believe the U.S. has all kinds of other goals that have not been made clear," Hannum told the Monitor. The Tufts professor said that these goals include regime change, Iraq's oil, and "establishing Iraq as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East."

Combined with the lack of a smoking gun, the hodgepodge of suspected unstated reasons for war produce an international hesitancy, said the Tufts expert.

"[The murkiness of these other goals] is what makes our European allies nervous," Hannum told the Monitor. "[But] not all the European motives are benign. The French are anxious to thwart any steps that would greatly enhance U.S. power in the Middle East."

But hard evidence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could shift the political winds in Bush's favor.

"It may end up being that we all end up supporting the war if there were a real smoking gun," Hannum told the Herald.



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