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Iraq Not Backing Down

Iraq stood firm on Friday as Defense Secretary William Cohen wound up his trip to the Middle East in which he has sought to drum up Arab support for Washington's anti-Baghdad alliance.

President Clinton had said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's decision to suspend cooperation with U.N. inspectors was "totally unacceptable" and that inspections must resume immediately.

But U.S. officials are getting little help from allies and Arab leaders, reports CBS News Senior European Correspondent Tom Fenton. Egypt's president and other key Arab leaders are against attacks. Saudi Arabia does not want strikes mounted from air bases on its soil. And the U.N. Security Council is reluctant to use force.

Thursday, the U.N. voted to condemn Iraq's decision to stop cooperating with the inspectors, but the resolution does not specifically authorize the use of force.

The U.S. maintains a fleet, including ships with cruise missiles, in the Persian Gulf. The administration's position is that it has the authority to carry out air strikes without further authorization. The reality is that Britain is the only ally firmly backing the use of force.

Meanwhile, Iraq's cooperation with the U.N. arms inspectors has been reduced to next to nothing. The inspectors have little to do except routine maintenance.

All of this poses a real dilemma for the administration. There is very little international support for military action, and the United States doesn't want to go it alone.