An influential US newspaper on Sunday voiced strong opposition to a possible US-led war with Iraq,arguing that there is still a better option than war.
In an editorial entitled "Saying No to War, the New York Times said, "Within days, barring a diplomatic breakthrough, President (George W.) Bush will decide whether to send American troops into Iraq in the face of United Nations opposition,"
"We believe there is a better option involving long-running, stepped-up weapons inspections. But like everyone else in America,we feel the window closing," the editorial said.
"If it comes down to a question of yes or no to invasion without broad international support, our answer is no," it stated.
The article believed that a far larger and more aggressive inspection program, backed by a firm and united Security Council, could keep a permanent lid on Iraq's weapons program and the United States could obtain much of what it was originally hoping to achieve by supporting a tougher inspection regime.
"Unfortunately, by demanding regime change, Mr. Bush has made it much harder for Washington to embrace this kind of long-term strategy. He has talked himself into a corner where war or an unthinkable American retreat seem to be the only alternatives visible to the administration," the editorial said.
The editorial also questioned the Bush administration's arguments for war, criticizing President Bush for having switched his own rationale for the invasion several times.
"Despite endless efforts by the Bush administration to connect Iraq to Sept. 11, the evidence simply isn't there," it said. "It is natural to suspect that one of America's enemies might be actively aiding another, but nations are not supposed to launch military invasions based on hunches and fragmentary intelligence."
As to the Bush administration's another argument for invasion that Iraq refuses to meet UN demands for disarmament, the editorial said that this is not a good reason when the United Nations itself believes disarmament is occurring and the weapons inspections can be made to work.
"If the United States ignores the Security Council and attacks on its own, the first victim in the conflict will be the United Nations itself," it said.
The article said that the Bush administration's stated goal to turn Iraq into a showcase democracy for the whole Middle East alsoseems impossible to accomplish outside the context of broad international agreement.
"The idea that the resolution to all the long-standing, complicated problems of that area begins with a quick military action is both seductive and extremely dangerous," the editorial said.
"When the purpose is fuzzy, or based on questionable propositions, it's time to stop and look for other, less extreme means to achieve your goals," the editorial concluded.