Regime Change, or Regime Protection?

The Bush administration wanted U.N. inspections of Iraq the worst way possible. Well, that's how it’s gone for them so far.

All the lovey-dovey cooperation in Iraq last week masks D-Day-- "Decision Day"-- this week, when President George W. Bush has to decide if he goes the U.N. way of non-confrontation, or implements his confrontational but wholly justified goal of "regime change."

The days following Dec. 8 will be the most important of the Bush administration since the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001. This Sunday, Iraq must declare if its facilities are capable of producing -- and undoubtedly still producing -- nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The administration can then highlight any discrepancies between what Saddam declares as his weapons of mass destruction, and what we know he has through intelligence gathered over the past 11 years. Deeming such discrepancies a material breach would constitute grounds for regime change, and with it Iraq’s liberation.

And this may be the last opportunity Bush has available over the next year. Because once U.N. inspectors begin their full operations -- such that they are! -- we can kiss President Bush's justified policy of regime change goodbye, at least for a while.

After that, there's scant way we can liberate Iraq without getting a green light from inspections chief Hans Blix. And there's no way Blix will be giving Bush a green light to attack.

Members of the administration, along with the U.N. establishment, somehow imagined that inspections could ensure Saddam’s disarmament. Fat chance.

Really, no chance. Saddam mastered developing and hiding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons over the past 11 years. He just finished four years of developing, without having to bother about the hiding.

Hans Blix plans for 80 or so inspectors to cover a country the size of France, with 23 million inhabitants who face torture or death for revealing such information. To show how ludicrous this is, consider two simple comparisons:

--After World War I, more than 5,000 international inspectors went into Germany after its hostile government was changed -- not with the violators still in power;

-- A team of 80 inspectors equals the size of the police force of Blacksburg, Va., and is smaller than the force of Milford, Conn.

From this flows my conclusion that the only reliable international inspectors for Iraq are members of the 101st Airborne Division. Real inspections can only follow real regime change.

Unless this post Dec. 8 opportunity is seized, the U.N. inspections will lead to "regime protection" over the coming year. This is remarkably different from the "regime change" Bush intended.

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

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