In the old Monty Python movie Life of Brian, the Romans and the Judeans had a sort of working arrangement. The Roman’s would always give enough notice of a search so that the Judeans could hide, and would then conduct the most ludicrous of searches, not finding Judeans hiding in the most obvious places.
Substitute UN weapon’s inspectors for the Romans and Iraqi weapons for the Judeans and you have pretty good idea of what the upcoming regimen of disarmament inspections, under UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, will be like in Iraq.
While the Bush Administration is pushing for “intrusive inspections,” Blix has stated that inspection teams should never be "angry and aggressive." And since Iraq is, according to Saddam Hussein, "devoid of weapons of mass destruction," the U.S. has called for a policy of “zero tolerance.” Nothing doing say Blix, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and such dependable U.S. “allies” as France. Iraq will be held accountable only for serious violations.
Presumably anything short of a UN inspector tripping over a hydrogen bomb labeled “serious violation, destination Paris,” will fail to make the standard. A little weaponized anthrax or aflatoxin that the Iraqis have forgotten to hide would be no big deal.
Annan previously distinguished himself in 1994 when, as head of the UN’s peacekeeping department, he dismissed warnings of impending genocide by the commander of peacekeeping troops in Rwanda and prevented searching the Hutu militias for weapons. The UN peacekeeping force was then reduced and an estimated 800,000 additional Rwandans died in the resulting Hutu-perpetrated massacres.
The whole thing would make for a delightful comedy, except that millions of innocent lives hang in the balance while the bureaucrats at Turtle Bay continue to impede the war on terrorism.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan nails the problem with UN weapons inspections much more succinctly than I did -- "I think I have as much confidence in Hans Blix as I do in Jimmy Carter." Exactly.