In a press conference last week, a befuddled Bush said he wished a reporter had submitted a written copy of the question “What would your biggest mistake [as president] be?” before he ambiguously decided that “Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. . . . We’ll find out the truth on the weapons” (italics mine). It’s hard to think on your feet, and to Bush’s “credit,” Saddam did suspiciously block U.N. inspection demands. Then again, the only other time the United States had addressed the U.N. about a direct threat from WMDs was in 1962, when Ambassador Adlai Stevenson produced some convincing photos of missile-building in Cuba; Bush must have left his at home. Even if he gets lucky and finds those weapons, violating international policy has given us the lowest world approval rating in history and strained our relations with the U.N. to a yet unknown degree. As the death toll rises, Thomas Weiss, director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at CUNY, leads a panel that includes former undersecretary-general Sir Brian Urquhart and U.N. ambassador from Guatemala Gert Rosenthal to gauge the damage and its potential effect on the upcoming election.
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