2002 October 05 Saturday
Thinking about Coercive Inspections

Jessica Matthews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has proposed coercive inspections in Iraq:

Under the coercive inspections plan, the Security Council would authorize the creation of an Inspections Implementation Force (IIF) to act as the enforcement arm for UNMOVIC and the IAEA task force. Under the new resolution, the inspections process is transformed from a game of cat and mouse punctuated by diversions and manufactured crises, in which conditions heavily favor Iraqi obstruction, into a last chance, "comply or else" operation.

The inspection teams would return to Iraq accompanied by a military arm strong enough to force immediate entry into any site at any time with complete security for the inspection team. No terms would be negotiated regarding the dates, duration or modalities of inspection. If Iraq chose not to accept, or established a record of noncompliance, the U.S. regime-change option or, better, a UN authorization of "use of all necessary means" would come into play.

Think about what this means in practical terms. The inspection team would need a huge military force to accompany it (actually to go in front of it) as it tried to move around in Iraq. That force would need to be capable of fighting thru any opposition thrown up by the Iraqi military. The proposal is basically to replace a general invasion of the entire country all at once with a series of narrow invasion paths to each site that the inspectors desire to inspect. This proposal strikes me as a case of a bunch of intellectuals being too clever for their (or our) own good.

Such a force still would not succeed for a simple reason: It would need to be able to exercise full police investigative powers in order to be able to get Iraqi government officials and functionaries to tell where things are hidden. The problem is that the Iraqis are more afraid of being killed by Saddam if they talk. So the investigative force would need to able to basically offer the equivalent of witness protection for all Iraqi weapons scientists and weapons program administrators. Nothing short of that would be enough to compel the Iraqis to talk.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 05 03:43 PM  Inspections and Sanctions


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