Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Economist.com | Iraq, Israel and the United Nations
SOON after invading Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein realised that he had made a mistake. Contrary to his expectations, the world would not after all allow his land-grab to stand. The United States was girding for war. He therefore began to cast around for a face-saving exit. One of the first ideas he came up with was “linkage”. Why not trade a withdrawal from Kuwait for Israel's withdrawal from the territories it had occupied in 1967?

Linkage got nowhere. But as the world debates the merits of another American-led war against Mr Hussein, the idea has returned in a new form. Israel has violated countless UN resolutions and amassed weapons of mass destruction, say those who oppose this war. Why then is Iraq singled out for yet more punishment while the Israelis get off scot-free?

This question is no longer being asked by Arabs alone. “No war against Iraq, Free Palestine” has become the slogan of anti-war demonstrators in Europe and America. The two conflicts have become entwined in the public mind in a way that the West's politicians cannot ignore. When he sought last week to talk his sceptical Labour Party into supporting action against Iraq, Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, got his biggest cheer for the bit of his speech that said UN resolutions should apply in Palestine as much as Iraq.