Memo To: The UN Security Council
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: UNSC Resolution 1441
Congratulations, folks. I was afraid for a while that you would not be able to pull it off, but you massaged the Iraq Resolution in a way that persuades me there will be no “war with Iraq.” I had not had a full night’s sleep for several weeks, wondering what else might be done to short-circuit the best laid plans of the War Party in Washington. When I heard France had agreed to the deal on late Thursday, I knew it would be okay. Something had to have been worked out and it became clearer on Friday that there had been no UN authorization for the use of force. I slept for ten hours, got up to read the Saturday New York Times to make sure, and went back to bed for another five. Now that the weapons inspectors are headed back, I don’t care how many experts say Saddam will mess up and the bombing will begin. He cannot do anything so onerous that it might cause the inspectors to report he really has hidden weapons of mass destruction. So we will have peace.
I'm of course not at all worried about the Iraqi National Assembly voting unanimously to reject the UN resolution. As in the United States, matters of this sort are decided by the Commander-in-Chief, in Iraq that being Saddam. And he knows this was the best he could do, as it even leaves a little light at the end of the tunnel for removal of sanctions, if Iraq is pronounced clean. I know President Bush is talking about "zero tolerance," but we know he would not start bombing if the inspectors cannot locate some piece of equipment or another. Our own Pentagon misplaces billions of dollars worth of stuff every year that it cannot account for. I'm counting on Hans Blix to use common sense, as he has in the past.
There has been a lot of mumbo jumbo from the press corps about how the skids are greased for Saddam and there is hardly a chance he can avoid removal by force. But Americans are not aware that he HAD cooperated with weapons inspectors for several years. In a recent interview, the chief American inspector, Scott Ritter, said: “Iraq has, in fact, demonstrated over and over a willingness to cooperate with weapons inspectors. Mitigating circumstances surround the demise of inspections and the inconclusive or incomplete nature of the mission, by which I mean Iraq’s failure to be certified as fully disarmed. Those seeking to implement these resolutions – for example the United States – actually violated the terms of the resolutions by using their unique access to operate inside Iraq in a manner incompatible with Security Council resolutions, for example, by spying on Iraq.”
What Ritter knows that even President Bush may not know is that Ritter himself participated in “snap inspections” that ended in confrontation between the inspectors and Iraqi security forces, only because the security forces had not been told that inspectors would be arriving in the middle of the night. One incident he wrote about in his 1999 book, "End Game," describes how his team was almost shot up by young Iraqi soldiers who did not know what the heck was going on, and simply decided to follow their orders to shoot anyone trying to get through a secure perimeter. Ritter’s team was accompanied by several Iraqis in uniform, officers who were not told where Ritter wanted to go until he got there, so there was not time to straighten things out with the trigger-happy Iraqi guards. Alas, under the rules, Ritter had to report the confrontation to his superiors, who reported it to the UN Security Council, which denounced Iraq and passed a new resolution tightening the sanctions! With France, Russia and China abstaining.
This is why the War Party in the Pentagon is so upset with the UN resolution, which President Bush says follows 16 others that Iraq ignored. The mechanism is such that misunderstandings of this kind cannot take place, and if there is a slip-up, the new UN inspections regime under Hans Blix will be able to straighten it out before it has to get to the Security Council. There may be attempts by the Pentagon to throw a fit because of one thing or another, but unless the issue is adjudicated by Blix, the Security Council will not even hear about it in any formal sense.
If you had not read Scott Ritter's speech to the Iraq National Assembly in Baghdad two months ago, I think you might give it a look, so I have posted it here for your convenience. It is a masterful political speech, which I believe more than anything else persuaded the hawks in Baghdad that they should throw upon the gates to completely unfettered inspections. They may have come around anyway, but not with the alacrity they displayed, which befuddled the Pentagon warriors. It gave Secretary of State Colin Powell the leverage he needed to persuade President Bush for a genuine diplomatic opening.
Several weeks ago, Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, a Republican movie actor, said his “worst fear” was the inspectors getting back into Iraq, which would postpone the war he wants. My worst fear, which has been giving me sleepless nights, was that they would not get back in. Thanks, God bless you all, and good night. Zzzzzzzzz.