Iraq Crisis: Back to the President's weapon of Ms destruction

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The Independent Online
NOW that the matter of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction appears, for the moment, to have been taken care of, we're turning our attention once again here in Washington to the matter of the President and his weapon of Ms destruction.

Save for the detail that his weapon is not, apparently, life-threatening, the similarities between the American leader's and the Iraqi tyrant's predicaments are striking. If he wants a sense of what is going on in Saddam's mind all he has to do is look inside his own.

"Now," he said in his Pentagon speech, 12 days ago, "instead of playing by the rules he agreed to at the end of the Gulf war, Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on this solemn commitment."

Cheating about a solemn commitment is precisely what Mr Clinton has been doing these past six years.

"Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons," the President said. "When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave the lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports."

For UNSCOM, read Kenneth Starr and his investigators.

You might extend the analogy to include Paula Jones, who is suing for sexual harassment. She claims to have had a glimpse of his weapon - warhead arm-ed, missile ready - in one of the President's "palaces", the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has testified about the weapon's curious biology.

"Saddam has undertaken yet another gambit," Mr Clinton said, "by imposing debilitating conditions on the inspectors and declaring key sites which have still not been inspected off limits."

Yet, despite the barriers, we know a great deal about Mr Clinton's weapon and have ample grounds for suspecting he has used it on repeated occasions.

Monica Lewinsky is reported to have said on tape that the President deployed his weapon against her in the Oral Office. Since the existence of the recordings became public knowledge he has dodged and weaved and thrown up smokescreens.

"The inspection system has worked in the face of lies, stonewalling, obstacle after obstacle after obstacle," quoth the President.

There is a way out of the crisis: he should provide full disclosure aboutthe sites where he has buried his weapon.

"To be a genuine solution, Iraq must agree to free, full, unfettered access to these sites." For "Iraq" read "Clinton" and you have as succinct a summary as you could find of Mr Starr's ambitions.

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