By Scott Ritter
Jul 5, 2007
The organization that was at the center of the maelstrom of the Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco, responsible for bringing the world to the brink of war on no fewer than a half-dozen occasions during the 1990s, and then unable to prevent a war in March 2003, has departed the global scene. It left not with a dramatic flair befitting its former status, but rather with barely a whimper, reduced to nothing more than a historical footnote in the grand tragedy that has become Iraq. The United Nations Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), successor to its more accomplished parent, the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), was found to be redundant by an act of the United Nations Security Council, which created its disarmament mandate over 16 years ago when it passed Security Council Resolution 1687 in April 1991. The United States and Great Britain had been trying to close down the weapons inspection operation since the invasion of Iraq, citing the demise of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq by coalition forces as evidence that the U.N.-mandated inspection process was now moot.
In a way, the U.S.-British position has merits, as I for one, having led numerous inspections inside Iraq from 1991 to 1998, would have a hard time imagining the inspection teams operating in a safe and effective manner inside the insurgent-ridden Iraq of today. But the issue of the ongoing relevance of U.N. weapons inspections goes far beyond a simple matter of inspector security. What really galled the U.S. and British officials were the inconvenient truths about Iraq’s disarmed status, something a continued viable inspection operation would officially register in politically damaging fashion. The lies and distortions concerning the threat posed by Iraqi WMD promulgated by the governments of George W. Bush and Tony Blair have been blasted into the background of domestic discourse in both the United States and Britain by the ongoing cacophony of violence exploding from occupied Iraq today, more than four years after the invasion.