2002 December 01 Sunday
Jim Hoagland On Inspections And Triggers For War

Jim Hoagland argues that effective inspections may not be needed in order to trigger war against Iraq.

The political and diplomatic costs of going to war dominate public discussion. But imagine the costs involved in the opposite situation of an American president failing to deal with a serious threat to world peace because he has been boxed in by U.N. inspections that are seen to be ineffective or rigged. That result would shatter Bush's presidency, beginning with his national security team, which argued bitterly over the inspections last summer. It would erase significant U.S. support for the United Nations for a decade and more. America's influence in the Middle East and its protective shield for Israel would be shredded.

The ridiculous premise behind the inspections is that inspections are capable of finding the secret weapons development equipment and the weapons. But as the Times of London has reported Saddam is hiding the equipment in private houses. (or see the same article reprinted on the Fox News site).

SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered hundreds of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors.

According to a stream of intelligence now emerging from inside Iraq, the full extent of the Iraqi leaderís deception operation is now becoming apparent. As the UN inspectors knock on the doors of the major military sites in Iraq, suspected of housing chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, the bulk of the evidence is being secreted away in peopleís homes.

Iraq has millions of private dwellings. Will UNMOVIC be willing to try to search some of them? If it does will it get lucky and choose one that has something hidden in it? Also, how will UNMOVIC find weapons that are buried under mosques and other buildings?

In the face of the Iraqi regime's ability to conceal its equipment and weapons Thomas Friedman argues that the best hope for discovering where the weapons and WMD development equipment is hidden is for an Iraqi to decide to tell the UN some useful information:

But this leads to the second issue, which is a deeper moral question. Is there an Iraqi Andrei Sakharov? Is there just one Iraqi scientist or official who wants to see the freedom of his country so badly that he is ready to cooperate with the U.N. by submitting to an interview and exposing the regime's hidden weapons?

It takes just one person in Iraq who wants these inspections to be real, who wants Saddam to be exposed, and the whole house of cards comes down.

There may be no Iraqi who is willing to run the risk of trying to cooperate with UNMOVIC. The Iraqi would have to signal somehow that he wants to cooperate and then hope that he or his family members do not end up dead before Blix might get the scientist and his family taken out of the country. Blix may not even be willing to try to remove an Iraqi scientist and his family outside of Iraq to be questioned. Is any Iraqi scientist willing to gamble their life and the lives of their family members on that? George W. Bush and Tony Blair may not get hard simple proof from the inspections and will still end up being faced with the decision of whether to attack Iraq without the that kind of evidence.

UNMOVIC is at a huge disadvantage to the Iraqi regime. For instance, UNMOVIC's personnel may not even be able to hold conversations among its members in Iraq without being heard by Iraqi intelligence agents. The UNMOVIC team is trying to prevent Iraqi electronic eavesdropping devices from overhearing their conversations:

The Iraqis systematically bug buildings in Baghdad and there are fears that no counter-surveillance technology can prevent them bugging the hotel the UN team is using as a base. Reports suggest that during briefings at the hotel this week inspectors refrained from naming sites they planned to visit and instead pointed in silence to their location on maps.

The Bush Administration is sending envoys to Europe to attempt to build support for military action against Iraq:

Correspondents say the officials will be following up American requests to governments for military contributions, and seeking to build a more solid political coalition against Iraq.

An unnamed French diplomat is reported to have produced his own proposed resolution on Iraq:

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 661 (1990), 678 (1990), 686 (1991), 687 (1991), 688 (1991), 707 (1991), 715 (1991), 986 (1995), 1284 (1999), 1382 (2001) and the just-adopted 1441 (2002), as well as the relevant statements of its President, Security Council members and Larry King thereon,

Deploring the fact that Iraq has repeatedly obstructed immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites designated by the United Nations and CNN,

Remaining slack-jawed that previous U.N. weapons inspectors were foiled by locked doors and clever explanations such as "Those are my wife's medical records,"

Marveling at the successful game of three-card monte that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has played for nearly a decade,

Confessing that the United States will likely do whatever it wants regardless of this august body and that it is in the paramount interests of the United Nations to appear to be relevant as long as possible,

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 01 01:20 AM  Inspections and Sanctions


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