Last week President Bush announced that Saddam Hussein must allow the United Nations to reconstitute on-site inspections of Iraqi facilities — or else.
That's shrewd as a first move — but not at all adequate as a full move. It's shrewd only if it leads to either:
— a dismantling of all conceivable Iraqi nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities (which is unlikely), or
— a liberating of the Iraqi people from Saddam's clutches altogether (which is preferable).
We know that Saddam is tyrannical to his own people, and treacherous to all of us. The Iraqi people loathe him. Many cheered U.S. warplanes from their apartment rooftops as we launched air attacks in Operation Desert Storm. They thought we were coming to liberate Iraq. Sadly, they were wrong then. But let's not let them down now.
Terrorist Networks, Terrorist States
Unlike Usama bin Laden, who sneaks around Afghanistan's caves, Saddam sneaks around a national capital. He has his grubby hands around real assets — billions of dollars in state oil receipts, hundreds of thousands of men in an army, scores of scientific laboratories, and myriad manufacturing plants to crank out weapons of mass destruction.
Al Qaeda and terrorist networks are horrible, but terrorist states are even worse. For they have the abundant diplomatic, economic, scientific, and military assets of a state, rather than the relatively skimpy assets of a private group in hiding.
Terrorist states can thrive without terrorist networks, as they can do the funding, recruiting, training, arming, and deploying themselves. But terrorist networks can barely exist without terrorist states. They must reside somewhere, and they have real trouble operating if they're being hunted down furiously — like bin Laden is right now. They must rely on sophisticated institutions to move their money and terrorist agents around the globe.
Hence the counter-intuitive conclusion that Saddam is a greater threat than even bin Laden. And hence it becomes even more critical for us to destroy Saddam than Usama. Moreover, Saddam oppresses more people than Usama, holding captive a whole nation of victims.
All this leads me to hope that Saddam continues to stiff Bush. Why? If he refuses any further inspections — despite United Nations resolutions demanding them — we would garner more international support to liberate Iraq.
If he plays coy and agrees to some international inspections, however, we must not tolerate any reruns of Clinton-era game shows. Saddam doesn't get to choose the inspectors. We in the U.N. Security Council do. And Saddam doesn't get to choose the sites to be inspected. We do.
The Bush team must, if it comes to that, insist upon the maximum number of sites for inspections. No more "inspections lite" of the Clinton administration (before it abandoned them altogether).
The Oracle: Saddam's Bombmaker
We should begin with the 400 or so Iraqi sites that Saddam's longtime "bombmaker" already knows. Khidhir Hamza ran Saddam's nuclear weapons program for many years, reconstructing the massive effort in the 1980s and 1990s after Israel obliterated the Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak in June 1981.
In the book Hamza wrote after defecting in 1996, Saddam's Bombmaker, he describes how Saddam decreed, post-Israeli attack, not to put all his nuclear assets in one basket. So he ordered Hamza to spread Iraqi uranium enrichment facilities around 400-plus locations in that huge country. Some are hidden behind a farmhouse facade. Some appear as schools. Some as warehouses, etc.
A truly effective U.N. inspection of Iraq must include the sites Hamza knows which hide Saddam's massive nuclear effort.
Add onto Hamza's already-robust list of over 400 sites those labs used to research and build chemical and biological weapons, and we have a mighty inspection effort indeed.
An invasion of inspectors — or, better yet, an invasion of liberators — should be throughout Iraq by Christmas.
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.