The U.S. government is patiently explaining to the world and to our congress the point of view that inspectors are not spies. These explainers are intelligent, articulate people (well many of them are one or the other, and a few are both), and they probably don't need any help from me. But you know me, they're going to get help anyway.
Here's the thing. U.N. Resolution 1441 charged Iraq with disarming. The role of the inspectors was and remains to verify that Iraq is disarming. That is it. They are supposed to watch and record as the Iraqis dismantle existing weapons and "prove" that weapons previously known to exist have been destroyed. They are the U.N.'s eyes and ears to verify Iraqi compliance with the resolution.
The role of inspectors never was and is not now to find weapons nor to prove that they do not exist. The inspectors are not spies. I live in a town of about 10,000 people, covering about 6 square miles. Imagine 10 nuclear bombs the size of washing machines were hidden somewhere in this town. If I took 200 munitions experts with me, I could search for weeks and weeks and never ever find the bombs. Iraq is the size of California, and includes large cities like Baghdad. How in the world can 200 people search it thoroughly? No way. None at all.
The U.S. claims that Iraq is not complying with U.N. Resolution 1441. By way of proof, U.S. officials have shown that Iraqi officials are moving vehicles and weapons away from locations the inspectors are due to visit, disguising chemical plants, and preventing the inspectors from interviewing key Iraqi scientists. Hans Blix, the leader of the inspections team, said emphatically, "they know very well what they should provide. We have not seen it yet". Mohamed ElBaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, says Iraq needs to show "drastic change" in cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. This is clear evidence that Iraq is in violation of the U.N. Resolution.
If you were confused about this, don't feel bad, because apparently many foreign governments and diplomats are confused also. They are calling for more inspectors! They don't get it. You could put 10,000 inspectors in Iraq, and it would not matter one whit because they are there to monitor Iraqi disarmament, and the Iraqis are not disarming!
One final point before I leave the soapbox. So there is clear evidence that Iraq is in violation of U.N. Resolution 1441. They are not disarming. So be it. Whatever the U.N. decides to do about this, whether they do nothing, or debate endlessly, or send in more inspectors, or make another resolution, is the U.N.'s business. But - and this is the point - the U.S. is not going to war with Iraq because a U.N. resolution was violated. Don't be confused about this. If the U.S. goes to war, it will be because, in the judgement of our government, Iraq represents a clear and present danger to the U.S. That will be the reason. So in order to go to war, it doesn't matter whether there is clear evidence that the Iraqis are not complying with a U.N. Resolution, what matters is whether there is clear evidence that the Iraqis have and/or are building WMDs. I believe the U.S. government already has this evidence. If they don't, they had no business going as far down the path to war as they have. And if they do, I look for them to reveal some of this evidence soon...