February 20, 2003

What the Anti-War Protests Really

What the Anti-War Protests Really Accomplish

Solid reporting in the WaPo regarding Baghdad's continued brinksmanship. Partly heartened by the outpouring of anti-war sentiment over the weekend, Saddam is ratcheting down any of his previous supposed "cooperation."

Key language: President Saddam Hussein's government, apparently emboldened by antiwar sentiment at the U.N. Security Council and in worldwide street protests, has not followed through on its promises of increased cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors, according to inspectors in Iraq. No Iraqi scientist involved in biological, chemical or missile technology has consented to a private interview with the inspectors since Feb. 7, the day before the two chief U.N. inspectors arrived here for talks with Iraqi officials. The United Nations also has not received additional documents about past weapons programs, despite the government's pledge to set up a commission to scour the country for evidence sought by the inspectors, U.N. officials said."

And: "...the inspectors have been unable to interview any other nuclear, biological or missile expert in private. They have asked to question 28 non-nuclear scientists, but most have insisted on having a government representative present. Although five non-nuclear scientists did agree to questioning without a government representative, they each insisted on making a tape recording of the session. The inspectors refused to go forward with those interviews because of concern that making a tape, which likely would wind up in the government's hands, would dissuade the scientists from providing candid answers."

"The tape recorder has been the stumbling block," one U.N. official said.

Of course, as a second resolution makes the rounds and rumors swirl that Blix's next report will be tougher on Iraq than his last one--Saddam will sheperd a few more scientists (perhaps even without tape recorders in tow!) towards the interviewers. The French and Germans will doubtless leap on such heightened cooperation and proclaim to all that, step by step, the inspections are working. This time, however, we have a U.S. President who isn't going to fall into the "hide and seek" and "cheat and retreat" ploys. Saddam doesn't appear to fully understand that, or is just dragging out the endgame to better position his defenses around Tikrit, assorted WMD-sites, and Baghdad.

Posted by Gregory at February 20, 2003 07:20 AM
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