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Catfish and Cod
Friday, October 31, 2003
Same song, second verse.
(Link path: CNN)

Psst! I've got a secret for you. Want to know how to evade international weapons inspectors? It's easy! First, claim that you're a perfectly legitimate country with a perfectly legal and peaceful set of programs. When details pop up to the contrary, throw the weapons inspectors out. Then you can negotiate to have them return, along with your declaration of a "full and complete accounting" of your program. This should give you the few more months you need to complete your program, at which point you can ignore the inspectors and threaten your neighbors.

Saddam did it over the winter of 2002-2003, and only the lightening intervention of the United States stopped his intention to use chemical weapons against an invading army. (Other programs, such as the rumored Iraqi nuclear program, turned out not to exist at all.) North Korea pulled the same trick over the same period of time, and now they have a full nuclear program and at least two bombs. Now Iran is trying the exact same trick.

I'd be happy as a clam if international inspections could prevent WMD proliferation. But the enemies of a stable planet have discovered the trick to evading inspectors: delay just long enough, and keep feeding them small victories. If you stonewall, they'll complain to the Security Council and the U.S. government, and that will be all she wrote. But if you give in to them just an inch at a time, they'll accept the small victories and patiently wait for you to cave. Except that by the time you do cave, you'll have your weapons and they can't stop you from doing whatever you want.

The inspection agencies must find a way out of the trap that their own policies have placed them in, or they will soon be as irrelevant as the Bush Administration makes them out to be.