Jewish World Review March 1, 2002 / 17 Adar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- EVERY New Yorker sooner or later learns to resist the temptation to play three-card monte with the hustlers on the streets of midtown Manhattan. It's a game you can never win, only lose.
But have we learned a similar lesson about the "inspection game" that Saddam Hussein has perfected over the past decade?
It looks as if the Bush administration has decided to go after Iraq, preceding a military action with a U.N. demand that he admit arms inspectors. The implicit assumption is that Saddam will say "no" and bar the door. I don't think he'll be nearly so obliging. He knows that a "no" will trigger the worst possible consequences. So, he'll give a "yes" but will then give us the same runaround that he did in the 1990s. Here's how he plays the game:
First, the U.N. girds itself, meets, votes and demands that Saddam allow inspectors to examine his labs and manufacturing sites for weapons of mass destruction … or else!
As the world gets ready to enforce its "will," Saddam, all smiles, replies that, of course, he will allow inspections. "No, he's not making anything that he needs to hide, his country is an open book. Just suit yourself, come in and look."
Then the will inspectors arrive and go about their work. But their access to sites will be impeded, the gates blocked. Saddam will suddenly demand notice before a site is inspected or want a limit on the number of inspectors or demand that no American participate.
When the inspection team goes public with its protests, Saddam will charge that the team's leaders are persona non grata. He'd accept any other leader - but this guy. Ask Richard Butler, the last victim of Saddam's cunning little game. Trying to do a sincere and thorough job of inspections, he began to feel like Ken Starr did - the target, not the cop.
By placing small obstacles in the way of giant purpose, Saddam will seek to evade the decisions of the United Nations. He'll bank on the bet that it will never seem justified to make war over this or that petty issue. At least not to Russia, China or France. It's simpler to change inspectors or agree to Saddam's requirements for notification of inspections or whatever.
If the West calls Saddam's bluff and demands the unfettered access he originally promised, Saddam will simply pull back for a while and co-operate for a few weeks, only to begin the game anew down the road.
The allies, divided as they are, will never get it together to hold Saddam to his word and demand unfettered, aggressive inspections. Saddam's bait and switch tactics leave us befuddled, divided and irresolute. It's his favorite game. It's the same game Hitler played on Chamberlain when he kept promising that each bit of land was his last territorial demand.
So, let's learn our lesson and not play this game.
If we go to the United Nations and demand inspections, we must make it completely and absolutely clear that the inspections are to be with our people, on our timetable, and at our instance. We must be free to go where we want, when we want, with whom we want, and however we want. Any change, variation or restriction on the unfettered right of inspection must trip a wire leading to war. The inspectors come out and the troops go in.
Just as the West imposed a tripwire in Bosnia in 1995 and, when Milosevic
crossed it, we acted, we must now regard the inspections as a final, immutable,
enforceable demand. The United States must reserve for itself the unilateral
right to determine if Iraq is not acting in good faith and the unilateral right to
attack militarily with the objective of toppling Saddam's regime should we feel
he has given us sufficient cause. Otherwise, he will send us chasing our tail as
we did throughout the
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed