Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation, or TOTN as it's known to us NPR aficionados, I heard a reporterette from the Christian Science Monitor lay out the following argument in favor of continued inspections instead of military action:
In the 1991 Gulf War we actually destroyed few of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. It was the period after the war when UN inspectors were in Iraq that most of the WOMD were located and disposed of.
The point of the first Gulf War was not to destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. It was to drive the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. Sure after he started lobbing scuds at Israel we established air patrols to try to seek out and destroy them but WOMD were not first priority during the air campaign then. Warnings of the consequences of using such weapons against our troops were enough to stay Saddam's hand and so a full bore effort to destroy these weapons and facilities was not mounted.
And the reason that the inspectors had success in locating and destroying weapons and facilities after the war was due to the fact that we had just beaten the tar out of Saddam's military and he was holding on to his power by the barest of threads. At that time he did not dare challenge the legitimacy of the inspections for fear that we would step in and impose disarmament by force ending his regime. But in the ensuing years little by little as the world's attention left Iraq he began to impair the inspections process finally ending in the 1998 expulsion of all UN inspectors. It was because he realized that we would not act to force him to disarm that he flaunted the inspections process in this manner. If not for our victory in the Gulf War there would have been no inspections to begin with and only in the aftermath of war were they successful.
Today if we go into Iraq we're going after the WOMD and their facilities with all guns blazing. They will targeted in the first round of strikes and will continue to be aggressively sought out and destroyed as long as the war lasts. And the war will not end in a negotiated truce that allows Saddam to remain in power. It will end with the occupation of Iraq by allied forces and there will be no hiding of WOMD. They will be ferreted out and accounted for. All of them. Unlike the inspections process, there will be no opportunity for weapons to vanish or disappear. There will be complete compliance and this is the only way that will be achieved.