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Jewish World Review March 20, 2003/ 16 Adar I, 5763

Larry Elder

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Inspector Hans Clouseau | Global warming, not the prospect of major military conflict, poses a bigger threat to the world. Who said that? United Nations arms-inspection chief Hans Blix.

The United States government, said Blix on MTV News, "simply must be multilateral. There's no other way around. You have the instances like the global warming convention, the Kyoto protocol, when the U.S. went its own way. I regret it. To me the question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war. We will have regional conflicts and use of force, but world conflicts I do not believe will happen any longer. But the environment, that is a creeping danger. I'm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict."


This confirms, yet again, why the French, Russians and Iraqis wanted him for his current job. Obtuse doesn't begin to describe Blix's unwillingness to declare, let alone confront, the obvious.

Blix's stint in his previous post as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), from 1981-97, revealed his astonishing naivete, if not incompetence. According to National Review White House correspondent Byron York, " . . . On Aug. 6, 1991, The Washington Post ran a story headlined 'Baghdad Surreptitiously Extracted Plutonium; International Monitoring Apparently Failed.' The story, and several subsequent reports, revealed that Saddam had put together a massive and sophisticated nuclear-weapons program virtually under the nose of one Hans Blix, who was then head of the . . . IAEA, the group charged with monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In the years leading up to 1991, Blix gave Saddam high marks for abiding by the treaty; the nuclear program was discovered in 1991 only after an Iraqi defector told authorities about it. Blix was stunned. 'The system was not designed to pick this up,' he told the Post . . .

"'(Blix) has a history of not being terribly aggressive,' says Gary Milhollin, of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. 'The Iraqis were given stars for good behavior, when in fact they were making bombs in the rooms next door to the ones the inspectors were going into.' Two other nuclear-arms experts, Paul Leventhal and Steven Dolley of the Nuclear Control Institute, have written that while the best arms inspectors are 'confrontational, refusing to accept Iraqi obfuscations and demanding evidence of destroyed weapons . . . IAEA was more accommodating, giving Iraqi nuclear officials the benefit of the doubt when they failed to provide evidence that all nuclear weapons components had been destroyed and all prohibited activities terminated.'"

Per Ahlmark, Sweden's former deputy prime minister, wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "Despite (Blix's) obvious shortcomings as IAEA chief before the Gulf War, after the war he was asked to head the U.N. inspections team, this time in tandem with (Swedish diplomat Rolf) Ekeus. And, like the previous period before 1991, Iraqi officials again assured the U.N. that they were hiding no weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Blix again believed them. He even reproached the most creative and energetic of his inspectors, David Kay, who did not trust Saddam's henchmen. Mr. Blix said that he should trust them.

"The crucial discoveries in the middle and end of 1991 became possible when Mr. Kay initiated raids into suspected buildings without telling the Iraqis in advance. Hans Blix disliked this method. But Mr. Kay went on efficiently, was supported by Mr. Ekeus, and found large amounts of documents and weapons within a year after the war. He proved that Iraq had huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons. It later became visible beyond doubt that, when the Gulf War broke out, Saddam had been only six to 18 months from his first atomic device."

Why didn't President Clinton object to Blix?

According to Ahlmark, "Indeed, in 1999, Mr. Ekeus made the shortlist for Mr. Blix's current position but was vetoed by Russia, then France. As the former chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler writes in his book, 'Saddam Defiant,' the Russians were taking marching orders directly from Baghdad. In Mr. Butler's book, Ambassador Sergei Lavrov is quoted as saying that Russia 'blocked the Ekeus nomination because Iraq did not want him!' He goes on to say that all appointments were to be treated the same way -- approval from Iraq was mandatory. When Hans Blix's candidacy was discussed, no veto arrived from Baghdad.

"With the go ahead from Saddam, Russia and France threw their support behind Mr. Blix, and he was soon approved by the Security Council. The Clinton administration seems to have been too paralyzed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal to put up a fight. Thus, you could say that Hans Blix was handpicked by the very regime he was to inspect and disarm (emphasis added)."

Why does much of the world refuse to accept that Saddam continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, that such "material breach" necessitates serious consequences?

Don't bother asking Blix.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate