Remember the Monty Python bit about "not being seen"? I think we could make a similar film about the UN, call it "How Not to Disarm a Nation".
Somewhere in the mists of the past I have a memory of a line from a movie long forgotten. It goes like this, "No punishment is any good, ‘lessen the threat of death is behind it."
That’s the lesson the UN has not focused on. Instead of looking for signs and signals and penumbras of cooperation the UN would be better served by taking a hard line.
The latest discovery of the rockets and motors is a text book case of "How Not to Disarm". Blix has set a deadline, and that sounds oh so impressive, so decisive, but there’s far too much wiggle room. He told Hussein that he must start destroying them by Saturday. No other conditions or deadlines.
Compare that with how the US and Russia demonstrate the destruction of their strategic systems. The B52s that go under the knife at Davis Monthan AFB follow a specific and verifiable process. First, the aircraft are parked in a specific part of the bone yard, out in the open. They are marked on the topside so they can be identified from satellites. Second they must be cut up into a specific number of pieces in a specific way. Third the carcass must be on display for a specific amount of time before the scrap dealers can remove it.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Why can’t Blix do that? He could demand that all the rockets and motors be transported to a central location in the desert. That the inspectors tag and mark all the systems. That they remain in place and that all destruction be open and observed the the UN team. That weapons be dismantled in such a way that they can never be repaired. That they be disposed of by crushing or melting.
Seems pretty simple to me. But then I’m not a UN inspector. I guess I don’t have a taste for nuance.
IF the UN adopted that sort of rigorous procedure for all his weapons there would be no need for a massive US force in the Gulf. Instead we could have a medium sized "international UN force" whose mission was to enforce the requirements of the inspectors.
The UN method has failed because the Security Council is focused on process, not results. And they have nobody but themselves to blame. Given the opportunity for a rigorous and definitive inspection regime, they have taken the easy way out.
Churchill said of Chamberlain’s Munich agreement, "They were forced to choose between shame and war. They have chosen shame. They will have war."
The same can be said of today’s UN.
Forced to choose between process and war, they have chosen process. They will get war.