2002 November 02 Saturday
Kenneth Pollack: The inspections are a trap

Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm, questions the wisdom of the entire UN Security Council drive of the Bush Administation. Pollack does not think the UN inspections regimes will achieve any worthwhile goals.

The fear is growing among hawks in Washington that the inspection process, instead of aiding the U.S. cause, will thwart the Administration's plans for toppling Saddam. "The inspections are a trap. They are highly unlikely to get [Iraqi] disarmament, as the doves want, or provide a pretext for war, as the hawks want," says Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. For starters, Bush has yet to win the diplomatic battle over the inspectors' mandate, which will be set out in a new Security Council resolution. China, France, and Russia are resisting U.S. proposals for a tough resolution warning Saddam of "severe consequences" if he fails to comply.

Writing the New York Times Richard Bernstein has reviewed The Threatening Storm and Bernstein makes it plain that Pollack has framed the argument for regime change that has to be answered by anyone who is opposed to a war to topple the Iraqi regime:

It is fair to say that whatever your feelings about the question of Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read Mr. Pollack's book, which is both hawkish and judicious. Its essential argument is that the containment policy followed since the Persian Gulf war of 1991 consisting of economic sanctions, a continued American military presence in the Persian Gulf and United Nations weapons inspections is fast eroding. Sanctions are being circumvented by the rampant smuggling of Iraqi oil. The presence of American troops in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia, is breeding local resentment. Meanwhile, the most important element in the containment policy, United Nations inspection teams searching for and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, ceased in 1998 and, in Mr. Pollack's view, is not likely to be effective even if revived.

If Poillack's argument is correct (and I think it is) then the Bush Administration is not only wasting effort to win approval for a stiff Iraqi weapons inspecton regime but it is also undermining the security of the US by allowing the UN to restrain the US from taking the most efficacious actions to deal with a real and growing security threat. The UN is a fatally flawed institution and the Bush Administration is making an enormous error by granting it legitimacy by treating with it. Also, the Bush Administation, by supporting the fiction that inspections regimes are capable of preventing WMD proliferation, is misleading its own citizens and granting a great propaganda victory to those who wish to use inspections as a way to block US actions.

You can find links to other posts on Kenneth Pollack's arguments here. For my previous posts on inspections go here. For my previous posts on preemption vs deterrence or containment go here.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 02 07:57 PM  Inspections and Sanctions

Bob said at November 3, 2002 9:34 AM:

Bush already told the world that the UN must enforce its existing resolutions or admit irrelevancy. As soon as the elections are over and folks can start considering what's next, I think the US should just declare that the security council "succeeded" in blocking such enforcement, declare the UN irrelevant and withdraw from it.

I've said it before, and I will continue to say it. I am sure the people of New York City could put the office space to more productive use--even if it is along the East River and not in Lower Manhattan. Like the stale bread and mouldy salad in my refrigerator, the expiration date has long since past on the UN. The time has come to clean house and to make a fresh start.

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