That Whole Rigamarole

Monday, January 27, 2003

Inspections Without End

Steven Den Beste provides a good summary of the Blix Report. It is obvious that Iraq has not implemented UNSC Resolution 1441, which was supposed to be their “last chance” to comply with the related, preceding resolutions. So the inspections are now mostly beside the point, except to the people who insist that they should take their “natural course.”

Mr. ElBaradei and the Axis of Weasels and John Kerry and the rest who hold this view need to admit that the inspections no longer have a natural course. They are meaningless without an Iraqi commitment to disarm. What is the stopping point for a meaningless process? I guess in this case it would be that elusive “smoking gun.” It might take years to find it, and in the meantime we run the risk of the WMD being used before they are found. Also in the meantime, the Iraqi people suffer under Saddam’s rule of fear, and Saddam uses his Oil for Food money to make trouble everywhere he can.

I liken these inspections in some ways to ISO 9001 audits. Some auditors (inspectors) show up, ask some questions, look around, and draw some conclusions. In the case of ISO 9001 audits, the voluntary registration bureaucracy calls for a few auditor-days per year in a small manufacturing plant. They can only take a cursory survey of what’s going on. I think it’s safe to say that in many cases, they don’t really understand the reality of the organization, unless the organization really wants to air its dirty laundry, which usually it does not. It’s easy to fool a couple of auditors for a few days, especially when the organization is paying the auditors for their services. The auditors have very little incentive to threaten the organization’s registration, and plenty of incentive to continue the organization’s registration.

Without straining the analogy too much, I think anybody who has experience in the ISO 9001 system or with military inspections will realize that UN weapons inspections in Iraq cannot verify disarmament under the current circumstances. Even Colin Powell, an advocate of inspections, has realized this. The UN inspection process has in fact run its natural course. As Bill Kristol pointed out yesterday on Fox News Sunday, people like John Kerry who are calling for more inspections do not have the courage of their convictions. They supported the President last fall, and have called for UN involvement. The plain meaning of the UNSC decisions on this issue is that the time for forcible disarmament of Iraq has arrived.


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