To me, the only international inspectors for Iraq are the 101st Airborne Division. Real inspection will follow actual liberation. Beforehand, inspections are all but impossible.
We must appreciate this now, since now the real action moves from our Congress -- where 75 percent backed the president's tough policy -- to the U.N. Security Council.
To grasp the futility of U.N. inspections is easy. To imagine them working is quite fantastical.
For starters, the team will have all of 80 inspectors going into Iraq. To give one point of comparison, the international inspection team following World War I had some 5,000 experts covering Germany.
To give another, this "force" of 80 covering Iraq -- with 23 million people spanning an area as vast as France -- roughly equals the police forces of Blacksburg, Va.; Helena, Mont.; and Chico, Calif. It's much smaller than the police force of Milford, Conn.
Moreover, the 80 face very hostile Iraqi authorities, who have won at "cat and mouse" games with U.N. inspectors since 1991.
To use British understatement, it would not be a "career-enhancing move" for an Iraqi official to show the U.N. team a violation. Indeed, that would constitute cause for torture and death by Saddam's goons of the official, and probably his family to boot.
Starting Wednesday, negotiations over the U.N. resolution get real. The dynamic in Turtle Bay swiftly becomes one of watering down the resolution to gain "consensus" for passage. This I learned first hand, during two-and-a-half years as a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. negotiating scores of such resolutions.
Only White House monitoring can stop the dilution. And here, it must. For ending up with a weak resolution would allow Saddam Hussein to continue, or even expand, his huge chemical, biological and nuclear buildup protected by a U.N. inspection regime. That's the worse imaginable option.
The best scenario for those who want security would be a tough U.N. resolution, which Saddam Hussein then rejects. That would clearly prove, even to the U.N. crowd, what everyone else must see -- that Saddam has zero intention of allowing a handful of international civil servants, from Sweden and the like, to stifle his unremitting lunge for power and revenge.
So here's a checklist of "must include" provisions for the U.N. resolution this week:
-- one resolution, not two, as the French prefer, which ties Iraqi requirements with the "or else" clause authorizing council members to deploy "all necessary means" (the code phrase for military action) to deal with Iraqi violations of the existing disarmament resolutions;
-- short deadlines for Iraqi acceptance, precluding Saddam from stringing out this U.N. waltz for months (causing us to miss the prime window for military operations);
-- inclusion of "Perm 5" representatives (especially Americans and Brits) with, or on, the U.N. inspection team;
-- a declaration of existing arms by Saddam Hussein before U.N. inspectors enter Iraq, to provide a benchmark; and, finally,
-- reaffirmation of aerial inspections by U.S. and U.K. aircraft over all of Iraq, to complement ground inspections by the U.N. team.
These provisions give an inspection regime a sliver of a chance to fulfill its mission. Without them there is zero chance. Better, then, not to go through this charade, and wait until the 101st Airborne Division shows proof positive of massive Iraqi violations. This will come during the opening days, if not hours, of liberation.
But what if France and Russia won't go along? Our negotiators at the U.N. will soon petition the White House to compromise on all these provisions, in order to "bring" Paris and Moscow "on board."
Well, just say no. And call their bluff.
U.S. officials, including President Bush, can ask French and Russian leaders, "Do you wish to have closer relations with Iraq, or with America?" And: "Do you think your future rests more with Saddam Hussein or with George W. Bush? You chose, so we know."
Given our toughness, they'll choose right. And, if not, it's better to know that now, rather than later -- after we naively rely upon them in the global war on terrorism.
Kenneth Adelman is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News, was assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977 and, under President Ronald Reagan, U.N. ambassador and arms-control director. Mr. Adelman is now co-host of TechCentralStation.com.