I think the Bush administration is pursuing the right strategy. Going after the terrorist organizations is more important than going after Iraq’s weapons with military force. The terrorists pose the more immediate threat. Going after Iraq’s weapons with military force is likely to make it harder to get the terrorist organizations. It may discourage cooperation with us in key countries. DoD has limited resources in certain critical areas (among them SOF) and will find it hard to fight both Iraq and the terrorists. Using the UN increases the willingness of people to cooperate with us. Cooperation is critical for success against the terrorists. Getting that cooperation comes at a price, so we have to weigh what we gain from seeking it against what we lose. I think the administration made the right call.
I would also guess that the disclosure report due on December 8 and our response will be only the first steps in a long process that may lead to the use of military force against Iraq. The inspection process will have to unfold; we won’t be able to hurry it much. I doubt that we will attack Iraq if the inspectors are still there and we cannot order them to leave. But having them there and snooping around is a gain and one that supports the more important task of dealing with the terrorists.
I believe that most of those in and outside the administration who would prefer to deal with Iraq now do so because they think that rearranging the geopolitics of the Middle East is necessary and perhaps even sufficient to deal with the terrorism problem and taking care of Iraq is the first step in this geopolitical rearranging. I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage.