IT’S A FAMILIAR STORYLINE: Timid bureaucrats, obsessed with career advancement and professional niceties, stare at mounting evidence of impending danger. The facts are incontrovertible, the risk palpable, the logical conclusions easily drawn. Yet somehow the bureaucrats remain incapable of acknowledging the danger, let alone advocating the necessary measures that could thwart it.
The first time around, it was the FBI, where careerists and those whose minds had been dulled by decades of political correctness couldn’t bring themselves to what should have been an inescapable conclusion: Zacarias Moussaoui was up to no good. Coleen Rowley’s best efforts notwithstanding, the careerists blocked any attempt at an investigation. On September 11, 2001, some 3,000 innocents were slaughtered for their lack of action.
And now it’s another group of bureaucrats, this one at the United Nations. They are joined by America’s less sincere allies and some Democratic presidential candidates who warn that the White House not "rush to war" against Iraq. (An odd charge to level against an administration that has dealt patiently with the UN since last September.) This is the Axis of Appeasement, a group that refuses to take a stand against the war categorically, but can’t seem to find any circumstances under which it would support an invasion, either.
Like the last group of bureaucrats too timid to defuse an obvious threat, this group makes great efforts to ignore the obvious warning signs, as documented in weapons inspectors latest reports to the UN. The inspectors, who were sent to Iraq with one purpose alone—to determine whether Saddam Hussein’s regime was complying with UN resolutions requiring him to declare his weapons of mass destruction and disarm—have already found conclusive evidence of noncompliance:
The weapons declaration the Iraqi regime turned in on Dec. 7 was incomplete and deliberately falsified.
Iraqi scientists have refused to meet in private with international inspectors, no doubt for fear of reprisal.
Some scientists have been found to be hiding important documents in their homes.
Saddam Hussein’s regime has "refused to guarantee" the safety of (read: threatened to shoot down) the inspectors’ U2 spy plane should it fly over Iraqi airspace.
Inspectors discovered several undeclared 122 mm chemical rocket warheads containing traces of chemical agents in a bunker near Baghdad, giving rise to fears that thousands more warheads have been squirreled away elsewhere.
Thousands of liters of anthrax remain unaccounted for.
Iraq is assembling longer-range missiles which, under international law and the terms of its surrender in the 1991 Gulf War, are prohibited.
It should be an inescapable conclusion: Hussein is up to no good.
True, the weapons inspectors have found no "smoking gun," by which the appeasers seem to mean nothing short of a functional nuclear weapon. (Of course, were Hussein to obtain the bomb, that would be a reason not to invade. The likelihood that he doesn’t possess it yet underscores the need for swift action, so that regime change can be achieved while it’s still tactically feasible.) But then, finding a "smoking gun" has never been part of the inspectors’ mandate. Smoking guns aren’t easy to locate in a large country where thousands work diligently to conceal them.
Under Resolution 1441, weapons inspectors are supposed to determine only if Hussein is cooperating. They have, and he isn’t. His dishonesty and noncompliance are sufficient cause for concern in their own right. The Iraqi despot has procured and used weapons of mass destruction before, which, coupled with his long history of deception, should deny him a presumption of innocence. Clearly he is hiding something, and surely it’s not something innocuous.
Yet the Axis of Appeasement continually calls for "restraint" or "more time" for weapons inspections, without anyone actually suggesting how much time, exactly, Hussein deserves, and for what purpose. "Let the inspections work," the Axis says, to which the answer is: They already have.
What do the appeasers think further inspections would achieve? Do they believe that after being prodded for a while, Saddam might suddenly warm up to international inspectors, thereby letting them find and destroy every illicit weapon, thus eliminating the need for war? Do they seriously think he is more likely to respond to weakness than to strength?
Not even the weapons inspectors make such claims. Where inspections-based disarmament has worked (i.e. South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan), it’s been due to the host country’s full cooperation. It can’t work in places like Iraq, where cooperation is at best sporadic. For his part, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix hasn’t even asked for more time (although IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has). Blix merely reports the facts, which have been of little interest to the appeasers.
After all, the appeasers were clamoring for "restraint" and "more time" even before inspectors issued their reports, making it clear that nothing Blix or ElBaradei could have found would have persuaded them. The appeasers are convinced that no matter what, the best course of action is none at all.
And we all know how well that worked last time.