"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will …" George W. Bush used this formulation five times in his speech to the United Nations Thursday, listing a long series of demands about weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, persecution, the aftermath of

"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will …"

George W. Bush used this formulation five times in his speech to the United Nations Thursday, listing a long series of demands about weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, persecution, the aftermath of the 1991 Kuwait war, and its use of oil revenues.

The president then goes on: "If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq." In other words, Saddam Hussein gets another chance.

I full well know that this is intended as a ploy. It assumes that Saddam will do nothing of the sort and it counts on this then inducing the United Nations Security Council to endorse an American military campaign against the Iraqi regime.

But it is too clever by half. The U.S. government should not be offering Saddam Hussein any way out. His 30-year career shows him to be an irredeemably aggressive, thuggish totalitarian megalomaniac. No representative of the United States should ever offer him a path to respectability, just as it should not allow the United Nations to have any control over the key decisions of American foreign policy.

For these reasons, the president's speech is a severe disappointment.