A Cautious Man
March 18, 2004
 
There's a Lot of People Leaving Town Now
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Both of those events are being commemorated and commented upon. But, there's one event which seems to be getting less attention. Today is the one-year anniversary of the U.N. weapons inspectors leaving Iraq:
U.N. weapons inspectors climbed aboard a plane and pulled out of Iraq on Tuesday after President Bush issued a final ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to step down or face war. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday ordered all U.N. inspectors and support staff, humanitarian workers and U.N. observers along the Iraq-Kuwait border to evacuate Iraq after U.S. threats to launch war.

After failing to secure U.N. authorization to use force to disarm Iraq, Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to step down or face war in a speech Monday night.


U.N. weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad for the first time in four years on Nov. 27, 2002, and resumed inspections two days later. During four months of inspections, arms experts traveled the length of the country hunting for banned weapons of mass destruction.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has said that during those inspections, inspectors never found any "smoking gun."
The fact that there actually were inspectors in Iraq right up to the start of the war, is a little detail which the Administration would like people to forget. For example, Vice President Cheney in a speech this past January:
Against that background, the Congress of the United States voted overwhelmingly to authorize the use of force in Iraq. The U.N. Security Council unanimously found Iraq in material breach of its obligations, and vowed serious consequences in the event Saddam Hussein did not comply. When Saddam Hussein continued his defiance, our coalition acted to deliver those serious consequences.
And President Bush, during his "Meet the Press" interview with Tim Russert in February:
You remember U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 clearly stated “show us your arms and destroy them, or your programs and destroy them.” And we said, “There are serious consequences if you don't” and that was a unanimous verdict. In other words, the worlds of the U.N. Security Council said we're unanimous and you're a danger. So, it wasn't just me and the United States. The world thought he was dangerous and needed to be disarmed.
And, of course, he defied the world once again.
So, let's observe the one-year anniversary of the U.N. weapons inspectors being chased out of Iraq, not by Saddam Hussein, but by President Bush's threat to start a war.

[Edited to add] In the comments, Damfa pointed out an even more absurd statement in the same vein, made by the President back in July (scroll to bottom of linked page), while sitting next to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan:
The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region.

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