The Bush administration, and in particular the sometimes waffling Colin Powell, deserve full credit for successfully executing the intricate gavotte required to unanimously pass the new Security Council resolution requiring full disclosure and disarmament of Iraq.
But, having accomplished this, December 8, the deadline for full disclosure, becomes a critical, glowing neon line in the sand which cannot be fudged or budged lest "the game," as Dennis Ross calls it in today's WaPo, continue with Saddam inching ever closer to his goal line of weapons of mass destruction:
- In particular, Hussein has viewed nuclear weapons as the necessary shield behind which he will be protected as he reverts to the practice of invading his neighbors when he decides his interests require it. Will we be so quick to try to stop him once he has nuclear weapons? He calculates that we will be deterred, given the costs to our troops, and he is determined to acquire this capability.
....For the key to the success of the inspection regime is Iraq's cooperation, and that is the test the administration must emphasize. The moment of truth will thus come for the resolution and for Hussein not at the moment the inspectors go to Iraq. It will come when Iraq, on Dec. 8, must provide a full accounting of all its WMD sites, programs, capabilities, developments and personnel.
Hussein will certainly try to create the impression that he is complying with the resolution. No doubt he will turn over voluminous quantities of documents; he may even turn over materials he has heretofore hidden. But he will not turn over the crown jewels of his WMD programs — especially in the nuclear and biological areas. He will count on the chief inspectors — Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei — not wanting to declare he is in violation of his obligations before they have even sent full inspection teams into Iraq.