New developments in Iraq continue to dominate all papers’ fronts. President Clinton announced Sunday that Iraq had “backed down” and that weapons inspectors would return to Iraq as soon as Tuesday. Clinton finally called off the possibility of attacking Iraq at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning; on Saturday morning, as the papers reveal, Clinton had merely postponed the attack for 24 hours while his advisors assessed Iraq’s alleged concessions. Two additional letters from Iraq convinced Clinton to stow the missiles and give the inspections another chance. However, the Administration remains wary. As USA Today emphasizes in its lead, the U.S. says it stands “ready to act” if Saddam Hussein breaks more promises. The Washington Post notes that the extra troops in the Persian Gulf won’t go home immediately–they will stay in the Gulf or head to bases in Europe.
Clinton issued five criteria for judging Baghdad’s compliance. Among the conditions: Inspectors must have “unfettered access” to weapons sites, and Iraq must turn over all documentary evidence of producing weapons of mass destruction. Clinton also indirectly endorsed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, calling him “an impediment to the well-being of his people and a threat to the peace of the region and the security of the world.” This caused Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to snap back on CNN that Clinton’s remarks were “a flagrant violation of the Security Council resolutions as well as international law.”
The WP fronts an insider’s guide to which Clinton advisors voted for what on Iraq. Apparently, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger held out for postponing the strike, while Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, and Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, favored gong ahead with the attack on Saturday morning. The Post didn’t know Vice President Gore’s position. Clinton’s concern about possibly killing 10,000 Iraqis (a “medium case scenario”) in the face of Iraq’s overture won out. The New York Times front page ventures the comparison between Clinton’s restraint in the Iraqi crisis and John F. Kennedy’s performance during the Cuban missile crisis.
The Wall Street Journal fronts a story on the thriving U.S. drug industry and why drugs are ever more expensive. Drug sales rose 16.5% this year as drug companies hone their marketing savvy, and prices for many generic drugs have increased 10% in the last year. Part of the high prices can be attributed to soaring costs for clinical trials–up to $150 million a year–and new, expensive chemical ingredients for drugs. But, says the WSJ, profit is the principal factor–plus which, unlike other industrialized countries, the U.S. has few drug price regulations in place. Among those hardest hit by the rising prices are companies whose health care plans must absorb inflated prescription drug prices, and uninsured patients. As the boomers age, the Journal notes, the need for more drugs will exacerbate the cost problem.
Former Vice President Dan Quayle has an op-ed in the NYT that can be (and is) summarized in exactly one sentence: “There is simply no Constitutional basis for Congress to censure a President.”
The Los Angeles Times fronts a story (carried inside elsewhere) of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s tiff with Malaysian government. While in Malaysia for an economic conference, Albright visited the wife of a Malaysian political leader who is jailed on sex and corruption charges. Exasperated by Albright’s perceived affront to Malaysia, the country’s Minister of Trade commented, “Maybe when I go to the states, I would like to meet Ken Starr.”