Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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What Others Are Saying

Editorial Reaction to Secretary Powell’s Presentation to the United Nations

February 6, 2003

USA Today “Powell lays out convincing evidence of Iraq defiance”: “Eight days after President Bush promised to present the world with compelling evidence of Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered—and then some. As he methodically documented Iraq’s continuing deception, Powell also illustrated the futility of indefinite weapons inspections advocated by critics at home and abroad.”

The Washington Post “Irrefutable”: “Mr. Powell left no room to argue seriously that Iraq has accepted the Security Council’s offer of a ‘final opportunity’ to disarm. And he offered a powerful new case that Saddam Hussein’s regime is cooperating with a branch of the al Qaeda organization that is trying to acquire chemical weapons and stage attacks in Europe.”

The New York Times “The Case Against Iraq”: “It may not have produced a ‘smoking gun,” but it left little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal one.”

The Wall Street Journal “Powell’s Smoking Gun”: “The Powell evidence will be persuasive to anyone who is still persuadable. …The only question remaining is whether the U.N. is going to have the courage of Mr. Powell’s convictions.”

The Los Angeles Times “U.N. -- Time for a Deadline”: “The United Nations risks irrelevance unless it promptly sets a date on which it will use military force against Iraq if that nation does not disarm. Piling fact upon fact, photo upon photo Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell methodically demonstrated why Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein remains dangerous to his own people, Iraq’s neighbors and, potentially, the Western world.”

Arizona Republic: “On Wednesday, America's most reluctant warrior, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, presented succinct and damning evidence of Saddam's enormous threat to world peace.”

Austin American-Statesman: “After Wednesday's presentation and response, Americans must wonder what it would take for the United Nations to actually act against Iraq.”

Birmingham (AL) News: “The United Nations can choose to be irrelevant, or it can join the United States and deliver those ‘serious consequences.’”

Charleston (WV) Daily Mail: “The threat is real and at our door. Sept. 11, 2001, stripped away the belief that the United States can peacefully coexist with evil. Prove it, they said. Powell has. Now the United States and the more than 40 nations standing behind it await the rest of the nations of the free world to show where they stand.”

Charlotte (NC) Observer: “Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out a powerful argument before the United Nations Wednesday that Iraq is systematically resisting the U.N. resolution requiring it to disarm. … This conflict is not simply between the United States and Iraq. There is a growing international consensus that if Saddam Hussein continues to resist disarmament, he can expect war. The choice is up to him.”

Chicago Sun-Times: “We are a country always loath to fight unless provoked. The reluctance of Americans to initiate a war needlessly does the nation credit. But this is not a needless war, nor is it unprovoked. Powell laid out the need, and explained the provocation, in step-by-step fashion that cannot be refuted without resorting to fantasy.”

Cincinnati Post: “The United Nations can, of course, walk away from Iraq's refusal to comply with U.N. Resolution 1441, and it looks as it if will. But if it does, it walks away from relevance, as Secretary of State Colin Powell says.”

Columbus Dispatch: The Dispatch repeatedly has called on the Bush administration to make a compelling case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction and hiding these efforts from U.N. inspectors. Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell made that case before the Security Council.”

Contra Costa (CA) Times: “If the United Nations is to remain a viable organization, it must enforce its resolutions or they will be meaningless. If some nations on the Security Council do not have the foresight to force Iraq to disarm, they can always abstain from any further U.N. resolutions. They need not decimate the credibility of the world body by using their veto power.”

Dallas Morning News: “In truth, the only thing wrong with the eyes of many U.N. members is that they are closed. Human nature is such that people often prefer to shut out rather than admit reality. The world did no less during the 1930s when Germany began to remilitarize and to mistreat its Jews. But the present stakes are too high to permit self-deception. Saddam Hussein's illicit arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, as well as the equally illicit means that he possesses to deliver them, poses a tangible and urgent danger to U.S. and world security. Millions of innocent lives are at risk.”

Denver Post: “With the coolness of Marshal Dillon facing down a gunslinger in Dodge City, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday delivered a damning recitation of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's continuing violations of United Nations orders to disarm. From our perspective, Powell's speech to the U.N. Security Council presented not just one ‘smoking gun’ but a battery of them, more than sufficient to dispel any lingering doubt about the threat the Iraqi dictator poses.”

Detroit News: “The secretary left little doubt that Saddam's time is short, and he brought the United Nations to an important fork in the road. The U.N. can either support the United States and its allies in opposing Saddam and rescuing Iraqis from the oppression documented by Amnesty International and others. Or the United Nations can ignore its own resolutions and walk away from a dangerous and unpredictable dictator.”

Greenville (SC) News: “At some point, the world chooses to believe President George W. Bush and Secretary Powell or the international community chooses to side with Saddam Hussein and those who broadcast his lies to the world. …Powell has painstakingly presented a strong case against Iraq. Time is running out.”

Indianapolis Star: “Powell has methodically proved Iraq's failure to comply with U.N. mandates. With each passing day, Iraq's own choices move it closer to a war that full compliance would prevent.”

Jacksonville (FL) Times-Union: “Iraq is busted. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the case clearly. No one hearing Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council could doubt Iraq's actions and intentions. …Failing to act in the face of a clear threat to humanity could be the beginning of the end for the United Nations.”

Kansas City (MO) Star: “Even for listeners who had few illusions about the Iraqi regime, Powell's presentation provided a disturbing picture. The sheer number of different weapons research programs, together with the huge amounts of lethal materials that remain unaccounted for by the regime, raise unsettling questions about how much damage Hussein could do.”

Manchester (NH) Union Leader: “Powell has connected enough dots to tie Iraq to al-Qaida and show that this alliance is a threat to all of Europe as well as the United States. Neither confronting Iraq nor fighting terrorism was ever America’s fight alone, and that is more plainly visible now than ever. Will Europe’s hold-outs see this?”

Miami Herald: “Mr. Powell may not have persuaded all of the skeptics around the world or in the U.N. Security Council. But by choosing the open forum of the United Nations and by putting hard evidence behind the administration's emotional push for war, Mr. Powell has laid the groundwork for justifying war -- if the United States ultimately finds that there are no other options left.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Secretary of State Colin Powell's 90-minute presentation to the U.N. Security Council, buttressed with surveillance photographs and recorded phone conversations, should remove all doubt that Iraq's Saddam Hussein has developed and hides weapons of mass destruction, in violation of U.N. resolutions. Neither is there any doubt now that the United Nations will lose all its credibility if it allows Iraq's flagrant provocations to go unanswered.”

Oklahoma City Oklahoman: “Case closed.”

Palm Beach (FL) Post: “Iraq's level of cooperation over the next few days will show whether Saddam Hussein was listening to Secretary Powell. If Iraq wasn't, the U.N. must show that it was.”

Portland (ME) Press-Herald: “In fact, the speech provided proof that Saddam continues to refuse to obey U.N. resolutions. Any amount of time he has now to comply fully and openly with U.N. demands should be measured in days or a few weeks - and no longer.”

Portland Oregonian: “The United States wouldn't be going to such lengths to convince the U.N. Security Council of the need to defend the world against Saddam Hussein if it weren't important for other countries to join in the effort. But self-defense requires the United States to preserve its own options of acting against Iraq. Although Powell was trying to persuade the Security Council that it was time to take enforcement action, he was no doubt trying to convince Americans of the same thing. We think he made his case.”

Salt Lake City Tribune: “The United States has made a compelling case that Iraq has failed to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction. This failure violates the U.N. Security Council resolution of late last year which ordered Iraq to disarm. As a consequence, and it is a grave one, the Security Council must act now to disarm Iraq by force.”

San Jose Mercury News: “Comment in this space has pushed for continued inspections, giving Iraq a firm deadline and waiting until that time to push the case for further action. Powell effectively demolished that argument.”


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .