Along the Tracks

Friday, February 14, 2003


I can't think of a better word to describe the conciliatory attitude taken by the U.N. weapons inspectors in the face of Iraqi delay tactics. From today's report:

"With the resolution of the problems raised by Iraq for the transportation of minders into the no-fly zones, our mobility in these zones has improved. We expect to increase utilization of the helicopters.

"The number of Iraqi minders during inspections has often reached a ratio--had often reached a ratio as high as five per inspector. During the talks in January in Baghdad, the Iraqi side agreed to keep the ratio to about 1:1. The situation has improved."

Get that? The Iraqis get to send "minders" along on each inspection, and have demanded so much "space" that the inspectors have been unable to use those much-ballyhooed helicopters. When they do finally use them, the Iraqi "minders" can call ahead and give the facility a heads up. So much for "surprise."

Nevertheless, even with such acquiescence, the unavoidable conclusion is clear:

"The declaration submitted by Iraq on the 7th of December last year, despite its large volume, missed the opportunity to provide the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions.

"This is perhaps the most important problem we are facing. Although I can understand that it may not be easy for Iraq in all cases to provide the evidence needed, it is not the task of the inspectors to find it. Iraq itself must squarely tackle this task and avoid belittling the questions."

Resolution 1441 was clear in its detail and in its threat. Saddam has failed. All that's left is for France (and tagalongs Germany, Russia and China) to decide if the United Nations will fail as well.

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