U.S. must respect inspections results

The head of the United Nations’ weapons inspections program, Hans Blix, chief U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei and eventually more than 220 weapons inspectors from 49 countries will be deployed in Iraq to conduct a full search of potentially 700-800 sites for any sign of weapons of mass destruction. With field operations beginning Wednesday, inspectors have until Dec. 23 to begin their work and file reports with the U.N. Security Council 60 days later. By Dec. 8, Iraq must fully disclose its chemical, biological and nuclear programs. Legitimately there are two possible outcomes of this fully-unfettered weapons inspection access.

Either weapons inspectors uncover weapons allowing the United States to use what means possible to disarm Iraq, or the inspectors will find nothing, thus forcing the United Nations to drop sanctions currently held against Iraq and the United States to acknowledge Iraq’s sovereignty.

However, it remains to be seen whether the second scenario is even acceptable to an aggressive George W. Bush administration.

Dismissing the importance of inspectors’ return to Baghdad, President Bush expressed a zero-tolerance policy toward Iraqi violations in a Nov. 20 speech in Prague, Czech Republic. Yet, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan have said they’re looking for a “clear pattern of violations over time.” Apparently, the Bush administration is creating several different justifications for attacking Iraq.

A short synopsis of the past year reveals several planted reasons as for a war with Iraq. The first, declared by the Bush administration, hailed an al-Qaida link to Iraq. Eventually failing under scrutiny, the Bush administration failed to provide any evidence despite claims it had concrete evidence. The second, a case presented of repeated violations of the original 1991 peace agreement, failed to gain U.N. support. The third reason is the current U.N. weapons inspection resolution led by Hans Blix. But a fourth option appears to be on the horizon. Recently, Rumsfeld has been complaining that Iraqis are firing on British and American planes. Even though this has been happening for the past 10 years without a single incident of a hit and even though Iraqis have been firing on planes whose flight paths are unsponsored by the U.N. Security Council which Iraq deems a violation of its sovereignty.

Both sides should hold to the agreement. If the U.N. inspectors find nothing then the U.S. should leave Iraq. But such a declaration of defeat will be impossible for an administration that has spent months hyping war with Iraq.