November 30, 2002
NOT SO GOOD, MR. FRIEDMAN:'Sodom' Hussein's Iraq (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, December 1, 2002, NY Times)
The U.N. inspectors in Iraq have begun their investigation of various Iraqi factories and military sites. Pay no attention. They will find nothing. The key to this whole inspection gambit--indeed, the key to whether we end up in a war with Iraq--will come down not to where the inspectors look inside Iraq, but whom they decide to interview outside Iraq, and whether that person has the courage to talk. The fate of Iraq will all come down to the least-noticed paragraph in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441: Point 5.
The framers of this resolution had learned their lessons from previous Iraqi inspections. They knew that Saddam Hussein was an expert at hiding his war toys and, having had four years without inspections, had probably buried everything good under mosques or cemeteries. That means the only way we can possibly uncover anything important in Iraq is if an Iraqi official or scientist--a Saddam insider--tells the U.N. where it's hidden.
And that is why the Security Council insisted on Point 5--something I did not appreciate at first, but do now. Point 5 says: "Iraq shall provide [the U.N. inspectors] and the [International Atomic Energy Agency] . . . immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons whom [the U.N.] or the I.A.E.A. wish to interview in the mode or location of [the U.N.'s] or the I.A.E.A.'s choice, pursuant to any aspect of their mandates." The U.N. and I.A.E.A. may "conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and . . . such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government."
In other words, the chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, can invite any Iraqi general or scientist to come outside Iraq and reveal what he knows. And should that Iraqi worry about personal safety, U.S. officials would be prepared to give his whole family green cards and money to live on. And why not? "I am happy to pay for that," a senior Pentagon official said. "It will be a lot cheaper than going to war to find these weapons."
If Mr. Friedman really didn't understand the importance of this, it suggests he's not been reading the many essays by neocons and others who have suggested that this was a necessary component for any serious inspections regime. He may not agree with conservatives, but if by ignoring them he's missing the importance of key elements of our policy, Mr. Friedman is doing his own readers a disservice. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2002 7:26 PM