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Review of Hans Blix's book

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  • Review of Hans Blix's book

    My executive summary: Blix too thought Iraq had WMD, but couldn't figure out why they didn't come clean. Meanwhile, he was also amazed at how sure the US govt was that the WMD were there but yet had literally no evidence to back it up.
    Zakaria says just a little more time and the other UN countries would have come around.



    At several points in ''Disarming Iraq,'' Hans Blix admits that he too assumed Saddam Hussein's regime was concealing weapons of mass destruction. But, he explains, ''I needed evidence.'' His frustration with the Bush administration, expressed throughout this book, was that it was both supremely confident that the weapons existed and utterly uninterested in evidence. Indeed, the administration was deeply mistrustful of Blix's search for it. Washington's logic, he writes, appeared similar to that of witch hunting in the Middle Ages. ''The witches exist; you are appointed to deal with these witches; testing whether there are witches is only a dilution of the witch hunt.''

    Blix was puzzled that this certainty about the weapons was combined with absolutely no real information about where they might be. He repeatedly complained to senior American officials that the intelligence was meager or simply bad. The sites they directed him to rarely yielded anything. The evidence Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell cited publicly Blix knew to be dubious.

    And yet Blix also believed that the witches existed. He suspected that the Iraqis were hiding weapons and weapons programs. He came to this conclusion on the basis of the same logic -- a lack of evidence. In 1991 the United Nations had found vast stockpiles of chemical and biological agents in the country. Iraq claimed to have destroyed them but had never presented a single piece of evidence that it had done so. If they had destroyed them, Blix wondered, why did they not ''try to convince us of this in 2002 and 2003. . . . Had there really been no written orders issued in 1991? . . . Why was the Iraqi side so late in presenting . . . lists of people who they claimed had taken part in the destruction of prohibited items in 1991? Why did they not present these people for interviews in December 2002?'' Thus in his first report to the Security Council, in January 2003, Blix declared, ''Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world.''

    ''Disarming Iraq'' can be read as an attempt by an honorable international civil servant to steer between two realities: on the one hand, an American administration that had made up its mind to go to war no matter what; on the other, an Iraqi regime that never cooperated enough to ease the world's suspicions


    --long snip--

    But if getting Iraq right was tough, getting the diplomacy right was much easier. Reading this book one is struck by how, at the end, the United States had become uninterested in diplomacy, viewing it as an obstacle. It seems clear that with a little effort Washington could have worked through international structures and institutions to achieve its goals in Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei were proving to be tough, honest taskmasters. Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war. But in a fashion that is almost reminiscent of World War I, the Pentagon's military timetables drove American diplomacy. The weather had become more important than international legitimacy.

    Had Washington made more of a commitment to diplomacy, Saddam Hussein would probably still have been deposed. Blix's book provides ample evidence that the Iraqis would most likely not have met the tests required of them. But the war would have been authorized by the Security Council, had greater international support and involved much more burden sharing. Countries like India and Pakistan, with tens of thousands of troops to provide, made it clear that they needed a United Nations mandate to go into Iraq. The Europeans and Japanese (who now pay for at least as much of the reconstruction of Afghanistan as the United States does) would similarly have been more generous in Iraq than they are today.

    Most important, the rebuilding of Iraq would be seen not as an American imperial effort but as an international project, much like those in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and even Afghanistan. America is paying a price in credibility for its mishandling of Iraq. But the real price is being paid by the Iraqi people, whose occupation has been far more lonely and troubled than it needed to be.

    NY Times review
    Dude. Can. Fly.

  • #2
    Zakaria is an excellent author...

    I read everything the guy writes...he has keen insights and understand geo-politics.

    Wonder why he continues to work for Newsmeek...when he was the editor of National Review...

    Comment


    • #3
      Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war.
      I have trouble believing France and Germany would have gone for it under any circumstances.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Reggie Cleveland@Apr 12 2004, 07:56 PM
        Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war.
        I have trouble believing France and Germany would have gone for it under any circumstances.
        Reggie-

        Germany...I would agree. Especially since Schroeder based his re-election campaign on this premise..

        French...who knows..but, the likelihood is slimmer than an annorexic on phen-fen.

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