NOT Bolt Rifles Posted February 8, 2003 Share Posted February 8, 2003 HITCHENS: SADDAM CAUGHT RED-HANDED Jan 28 2003 :idea: By Christopher Hitchens THE term "smoking gun" is one of the more ridiculous phrases to have emerged from the recent argument over intervention against Saddam Hussein. It is an expression originally evolved from corruption or deceit in American politics, which means evidence of a crime. There is, people lazily say, "no smoking gun" in the material presented to the United Nations by the Blix inspection team. The expression is absurd in two ways. First, Saddam Hussein has already been caught red-handed, several times, employing weapons of mass destruction. His deputy, Tariq Aziz, recently admitted Iraq showered chemical poison on the city of Halabja and Iraqi generals were also good enough to admit how close they were to building a nuclear weapon by the time of the last Gulf War. Second, the mandate of the UN resolution does not require Mr Blix to flourish a "smoking gun". Instead, the resolution states with unmistakable clarity that it is up to Iraq to comply fully with the treaties it has signed. The inspection system is supposed to monitor that compliance, not investigate breaches. And it works well: checking past declarations against present reality. That is how the North Koreans were recently caught red-handed, re-deploying previously declared rods of uranium from inactive to active modes. IT is already plain that Saddam Hussein's regime has put itself in material breach of the relevant UN resolution. And it is material breach, not a "smoking gun", that has to be demonstrated. Just look at the actual materials. Mr Blix - who has a reputation as a softie when it comes to inspections - reports that an impressive number of chemical-weapon warheads are missing. Other germ-warfare and nerve-gas agents, and their delivery systems, are also unaccounted for. This is a matter of simple arithmetic, checking what can be found against Saddam's original inventory. More inspections and more time would disclose nothing except more of the same. The paper presented by Iraq on the occasion of the last deadline now proves to have been nothing more than a trash-pile of evasions and deceptions, designed to run out the clock. But who could possibly argue that the Iraqi authorities allowed unfettered access to scientists and technicians, as required by the resolution? In Sunday's New York Times, John Burns told how Iraqi guides shook with fear when even humble reporters asked unauthorised questions. These poor goons knew that they and their families would take days to die if they offended the leader even in a minor detail. Picture, then, the kind of pressure that is exerted on scientists and technicians who possess hard information. Once again, though, we do not need to rely on guesswork either. A steady number of defectors, including the nuclear physicist Dr Khidir Hamza, have escaped from Baghdad and given a fairly comprehensive blueprint of the war designs of Saddam Hussein. Once inspections had begun, it was inevitable that holes would open up in the "full disclosure" presented by his underlings. I am impressed only by the sheer crudity of their effort, and by the speed with which it has crumbled. ANYONE who repeats the mantra about "more time for the inspections" should be aware of exactly what they are demanding. With the sanctions system falling apart, and illegal trading growing apace, all goods entering or leaving Iraq yield a percentage pay-off to Saddam. With this trove of money, they can still hope to go back to the underworld market and shop around for more deadly materials. Meanwhile, the unbearable suffering of the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples is protracted needlessly. In order to have a complete disclosure of Iraq's capabilities, one would have to actually be the government of Iraq. People who claim to know Iraq poses no threat are claiming either to be in the confidence of Saddam's regime, or else claiming to know more than anybody could know. But why not accept the logic of the argument? A day will come when all the sites will be open and all the documents published. On that day, the inspectors will have "completed their job". In other words, the demand for a full inspection is another way of calling for a regime change, which for many other reasons is already long overdue. Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -- John Adams "I am a senior member, and thereby entilted to all the privileges and rights accorded said status" -- NBR Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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