The Cease-Fire and Beyond
THE United Nations resolution establishing a permanent cease-fire puts the clamps on Iraqi military expansionism. UN Resolution 687, which the Iraqi Parliament has accepted, will strip Saddam Hussein's military of its long-range missiles, chemical and biological agents, and nuclear capabilities. This was an inevitable outcome of Iraq's misadventure in Kuwait and its ultimate defeat. Iraqi disarmament should initiate a larger process of arms reduction in the region. The UN resolution hints at that broader agenda, but it will be up to the nations of the Middle East, and to arms suppliers and would-be peace brokers, like the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, to assure that the disarming doesn't stop with Iraq.
Apart from its military facets, the UN cease-fire provides for a phased removal of the economic sanctions on Iraq. Restrictions on the import of food and other humanitarian needs would immediately be lifted. The need for such aid inside Iraq almost defies measure. Not only should trade restraints be jettisoned, but the international community must rally tremendous resources behind UN relief agencies and private groups like the Red Cross to avoid widespread loss of life among the refugees now streaming t oward the borders.
Other restrictions on imports, and on the export of Iraq's oil, will be lifted in tandem with Baghdad's compliance with the UN resolution.
While the cease-fire strips Iraq of Saddam's prize weaponry, it can't assure the removal of Saddam himself. Yet his departure from power is crucial. Perhaps his military is waiting until he suffers the final humiliation of having to sign the highly punitive UN cease-fire before toppling him. That's a thin hope.
The US and its allies should emphasize that the country's economic outlook would be much brighter without Saddam - that access to world financial resources and other aid arrangements would be much more generous with a new leader and a more representative government.
If the only prospect offered Iraq is punishment, those in a position to bring about political change may have little incentive to do so.