Where are the weapons? As the war in Iraq winds down, this question is central on many minds, including those in the White House and Pentagon. Often used as a justification for the war, the U.S. forces, in their campaign to liberate the country, have yet to find the weapons of mass destruction officials adamantly claimed existed at the war’s outset. As the search continues, bringing back U.N. inspectors would grant the United States an added measure of credibility. It would also help ease the minds of a skeptical global public.
The United States is now undertaking a larger task than the war itself: rebuilding a nation and alliances it damaged in the run up to war. Many are skeptical of U.S. justifications for the war and rightly demand proof of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Because the United States is so invested in the issue, bringing back U.N. inspectors would help boost credibility. It also would help allay rumors, which have already surfaced, that the United States might plant weapons if it doesn’t find them.
But perhaps most importantly, it would help the United States to mend the relationships it damaged by waging this war without international support. By using U.N. inspectors, the United States would show that the international body will play an important role in the future of Iraq.
Russia and other nations support the return of U.N. inspectors, which is intertwined with the U.N. sanctions regime. The United States wants the sanctions lifted. So does Russia and other nations. But as Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov stated, “For the Security Council to take this decision (lifting sanctions), we need to be certain whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not.” The Security Council would be hard-pressed to make the decision to lift the sanctions if all relevant information comes from a U.S. military source.
The United States should heed the will of the United Nations and allow unbiased inspectors back into Iraq. By doing this, the United States will achieve an undisputable international authorization for the war and will show a willingness to cooperate with the international community it has unsettled with this war.