Practice patience before striking

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2003 at 11:13 p.m.

President Bush complains that he is "sick and tired" because it is taking U.N. inspectors so long to search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He seems strangely disappointed none so far have been found. He says he is "impatient," and that "time is running out."

He wants a quick fix.

European leaders, whose countries have experienced the ravages of war on their own soil, caution the U.S. administration against rushing into war. Which is better, a prolonged period of inspection, or a pre-emptive war? What harm is there in continuing U.N. inspection?

Pre-emptive war, without Security Council support, would not only violate international law, it would needlessly put at risk the lives of thousands of American servicemen and women, as well as hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Such a war against Iraq would confirm the perception by hundreds of millions of Muslims that the United States means to destroy the Islamic and Arab worlds. Predictably, many more Muslims would join in violent terrorist violent actions against Americans at home and abroad.

If President Bush is impatient, he should learn patience from our European friends, whose countries have had to cope with armed and hostile neighbors through many centuries. They know that quick fixes rarely get good results.

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