If Iraq is Such a Direct Threat, Why are We Willing to Wait?

— Good column in the Orange County Register by Cato's Ted Galen Carpenter. Here's the thrust:

If Iraq poses a dire threat, why has the United States bothered to go to the United Nations? Again, the contrast with America's actions in Afghanistan is stark. In the latter case, the United States invoked the right of self-defense and took action on its own. In the case of Iraq, U.S. leaders have wasted months going through the diplomatic agony of securing a U.N. resolution and the endless weeks of pointless U.N. inspections. Washington continues to play the diplomatic game of trying to secure a second resolution — one that would explicitly authorize the use of force.

The United Nations is an international debating society, not a serious security body. The United States and the other major powers have typically taken to the U.N. only those issues that are peripheral to their own security. They bypass the world body and take action unilaterally or with regional coalitions on more serious matters. The willingness to go through a multistage diplomatic farce at the U.N. suggests that Bush administration officials, despite their statements, do not really regard Iraq as a major security threat to the United States.

I think he's right. Either Iraq is a direct threat or it is not. If it is, then we should have invaded already. If it's not, then we would be behaving exactly like we are. But in that case, an invasion isn't justified.