2002 September 20 Friday
Brink Lindsey: Why Weapons Inspections Won't Work

Brink Lindsey has a great post on the futility of inspections to control a regime that places a high priority on WMD development:

Any attempt to defuse the Iraqi crisis by sending in weapons inspectors is doomed to founder on this basic problem: Agreements that require ongoing, affirmative performance from one of the parties cannot work if that party doesnít want to perform.

In contract law, when an employee breaches an employment contract by quitting or failing to show up at work or failing to do his job, the employer canít get an injunction requiring the bum to do what he signed up to do. In legal parlance, the employer can't obtain "specific performance" of the contract; the best he can do is get money damages. Why? Because the law recognizes that itís impractical to try to force someone to give the level of ongoing performance that one expects from a willing employee. You could order the guy to show up at work, but it would be impossible to spell out in advance all the specific acts that he needs to undertake to be the employee he was hired to be -- to use his brain, show initiative, assume responsibility, and exhibit creativity in the face of the ongoing, ever-changing circumstances of the job.

He follows with excerpts from the experiences of the UNSCOM inspection team in Iraq written by Charles Duelfer, formerly its deputy executive chairman (I would encourage anyone to go read the full articles). What is most disturbing about this account is how much the will was lacking on the part of the UN to force Saddam's compliance with inspections. Then having demonstrated just how well the Iraqis were able to work around UNSCOM Lindsey says:

It turns out the whole post-Gulf War disarmament scheme was based on a faulty premise: namely, that Iraq wanted oil revenues more than it wanted weapons of mass destruction. If that were true, then the prospect of having sanctions removed would have motivated Iraq to disarm and cooperate with inspectors to verify the fact of disarmament. Alas, the fact is that developing WMDs is so important to Saddam Hussein's regime that it has been willing to forgo hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue if that is the price that has to be paid.

Assuming that the same regime still has the same priorities, there's absolutely no reason to think that a new round of weapons inspections is going to accomplish anything. Accordingly, for the same reason that regime change was needed to end the nuclear arms race with Moscow, and that regime change among the Palestinians is the key to peace in the Middle East, the only reliable way to eliminate Iraq's WMD threat is to eliminate the regime intent upon developing that threat.

This is an important point. The question is this: What are we supposed to hit Saddam over the head with if he doesn't allow total access for the inspectors? What wasn't already tried during the UNSCOM era? Well, some people suggest bombing any facility that Saddam denies access to. But wait, what if Saddam places those facilities in residential buildings? Do we blow up apartment buildings full of civilians just because he won't let us into some basement room? How will people all over the world respond to that? The real problem is that he doesn't want to comply and is willing to pay a very high cost for non-compliance.

It was a shock in some quarters when the USSR fell apart and the extent of its cheating on arms control regimes became known. Ken Alibek's revelations on the size of the Soviet bioweapons program demonstrated just how useless unverifiable agreements can be. If we have the alternative of replacing an unwilling regime with a more compliant one then that will do more to eliminate the threat than any inspection team.

See another excellent previous post by Brink Lindsey There's No Invisible Hand in Foreign Affairs and his follow-up with some answers to critics of his previous argument

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 September 20 04:04 PM  Inspections and Sanctions


Comments
Moses bin Nachman said at August 8, 2003 4:57 AM:

Stalin's whole life was characterized by an unceasing fierce struggle against Russian capitalism, against world capitalism, against imperialism and against the anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist currents and trends which had placed themselves in the service of world reaction and capital.
Beside Lenin and under his leadership, he was one of the inspirers and leaders of the Great October Socialist Revolution, an unflinching militant of the Bolshevik Party. After the death of Lenin, for 30 years on end, Stalin led the struggle for the triumph and defence of socialism in the Soviet Union. That is why there is great love and respect for Stalin and loyalty to him and his work in the hearts of the proletariat and the peoples of the world. That is also why the capitalist bourgeoisie and world reaction display never-ending hostility towards this loyal discipline and outstanding, resolute co-fighter of V1adimir Ilyieh Lenin.


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