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Commentary | PERSPECTIVES ON THE IRAQI CRISIS

It's No Longer About Inspections

U.S. must encourage Saddam's victims--the people of Iraq--to get rid of him.

November 15, 1998|SCOTT RITTER | Scott Ritter was one of the most senior U.N. weapons inspectors assigned to Iraq. He resigned his post in August in protest over U.S. and U.N. policies

In stating the objectives of military action, the Clinton administration can no longer afford to be satisfied with mere reinstatement of U.N. Special Commission inspections under the procedures and protocols that were once effective. Having these inspections successfully thwarted by the Iraqis for 100 days has already damaged the program and provided new advantages to Iraq's dangerous leadership.

If all we are going to accomplish is a reinstatement of the cat-and-mouse game, we would not be making the most of our deployment and the lives we are putting at risk. We must make it clear what we expect to achieve. A return to the status quo will no longer suffice.

In addition to full empowerment of UNSCOM, the world must now demand that Iraq stop denying the existence of weapons and materials of mass destruction that we know to exist.

After years of playing hide and seek with weapons inspectors, Iraq has become expert at the rapid evacuation of critical materials from its factories.

Saddam is expert at protecting himself in the security apparatus that surrounds him. Factories targeted for bombing most probably have been emptied of the contents that make them viable.

Saddam himself moves about Iraq from one hiding site to another. Bombs can inflict no real harm to the things that Saddam wants to protect the most: himself and his weapons manufacturing capability.

The U.S. must encourage Saddam's victims--the people of Iraq--to get rid of him as soon as the Republican Guard around him is destroyed.

While the United States holds the decisive edge in military weaponry, the ultimate battle will be fought in the halls of governments. Only then will we know which side has the stronger political weaponry.

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