Dr. Hans Blix's employment contract expires in June 2003. Whoever signed the contract with him must have been very optimistic, believing the UN arms inspectors would be able to work in Iraq for such a long time. On Friday, it became clear that Blix's inspection days are numbered.
In the four months since he began his mission as chief of the United Nations inspection team, even Blix has realized that it was superfluous. Not because it is useless, but because from the start, it was meant to serve as proof for the justification of a new American policy and that his reports serve at most as bibliography for politicians' interpretations.
The United States does not believe in the effectiveness of the supervision on Iraq. After the bad experience with North Korea, the United States apparently has ceased believing in supervision altogether. Its conclusion, which seems to be largely substantiated, is that supervision cannot prevent a determined state from obtaining weapons for mass destruction. Thus, for example, Iran, Iraq and North Korea signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), while India and Pakistan and Israel did not. It now seems, practically speaking, there is no difference between a state that signed and one that didn't.
The test President Bush suggests instead of supervision is checking the state's historical record and analyzing its motivation to use weapons of mass destruction. Bush frequently presents Iraq's chemical attack against Iran and the Kurds in Halabja as a "repeat offense" - indicating an intention and readiness to commit a similar crime again.
The conclusion of this test is that a state's delinquency will not be measured by the kind and quantity of mass destruction weapons, but by the character of its regime and its guiding ideology. Therefore it no longer matters whether Saddam Hussein publicly destroys all his containers of anthrax and VX nerve gas, and whether he gets another excellent report card from Blix. Because Saddam the man, in Bush's eyes, is the menace. As long as he is in power, his motivation to get weapons of mass destruction and perhaps use them will endure. What was, will surely be, regardless of the fact that in the past 12 years there have been more threats of using nuclear weapons from India, Pakistan and North Korea than from Iraq, and despite the fact that the new threat - international terrorism - sprouted in the fields of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and even the United States itself.
Bush's criterion, that "certificate of approval" a regime must win to evade the threat of being replaced, created the rift between the United States and Europe, between the Arab and Islamic states and the West in general, and between those who support war and those who oppose it, although many of the war's opponents, including Arab states, support Saddam's removal.
The problem with this criterion is twofold. First, it is not applied equally to every regime perceived as dangerous - for the United States is not going to war against Pakistan or North Korea. Second, it gives the deciding authority to the strongest power at a given time. Can anyone imagine Russia going to war alone against Saudi Arabia with the intention of removing King Fahd from his throne, only because Saudi Arabia financed Chechen terrorists? The American criterion is therefore absurd, because its full application would require a wholesale removal of bad regimes, and failure to apply it fully already shows up the American administration as hypocritical.
Shifting the threat from weapons of mass destruction to the quality of government in Iraq, the talk of instituting a new order in the Middle East, of replacing systems of government and of democratization, is at odds with the important effort to eliminate the real danger of mass destruction weapons. Because such talk is based on the monopolization of justice and government values by one power, even if it is enlightened. Even America's friends find this hard to agree with. They express their protest by opposing the war, and this plays into Saddam's hands.
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