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   An Open Letter to Americans from a Concerned German
An Open Letter to Americans from a Concerned German,

Mark Matthews writes a fine article, "U.S. has stake in locating Iraqi weapons." (Sun 3/19). It is true that a lot is riding on the U.S. finding the "smoking gun" that eluded the inspectors. Our prestige in the world, and the President's political future may rest on what we find, preferably verified by unimpeachable, independent sources. One other issue, however, cannot be put to rest even if we find WMD's. We may have rendered the U.N. meaningless as a peacekeeping agency by our invasion of Iraq without U.N. sanction.

Last Saturday at a conference at Cooper Union College in N.Y.C., I was able to ask two questions to a panel that included Jan Kavan, the president of the U.N. General Assembly. I asked if the U.S. was in violation of resolution 1441 because it had not given the inspectors all the evidence it claimed to have about Iraq's WMD's, and I asked if the U.N. resolution of 1990 authorizing the use of force still remains open ( as the U.S. contends ), and not superceded by 1441.

The first question was not answered, but the second was. When the Gulf War ended, the Security Council stated that it "remained seized of the matter," which, in legal jargon, means that the resolution was void and suspended. In effect then, there is no authorization to the use of force in any outstanding resolution. The U.S. is being selective and disingenuous about which parts of the U.N. charter to honor and which to defy. How can we then expect the U.N. to remain effective as an instrument of peace? Now that we seem on the verge of being able to control the world, do we care?

J. Russell Tyldesley
Catonsville, Md.

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This story was published on March 21, 2003.
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