Friday, November 08, 2002
2 months to war. The clock is ticking. 7 until Iraq accepts the resolution. (It will.) 30 until all weapons must be declared. (They'll produce a list; only inspections will determine if it is accurate.) 45 until inspectors must be allowed to return, with unrestricted access.
They'll be welcomed in. Then it'll take about 5 minutes for them to hit a snag of some sort - some Iraqi objection, some evidence of materials being removed from a site in advance of inspections; something. The inspectors report "immediately" to the Security Council, which convenes to discuss.
I give the discussions 2 weeks. The official Bush Administration position is that the resolution and prior resolutions allow any member state to enforce the provisions of the resolution. In other words, the U.S. Army can go in at the first sign of obstruction in order to gain access for the inspectors to whatever Saddam doesn't want them to see. 2 key paragraphs for this are the fourth of the document and the eighth of the decision:
Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to Resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,
. . .
8. Decides further that Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution;
Any member state can enforce this and prior resolutions on the matter; that's how the U.S. has been justified in periodically initiating air strikes to enforce the no-fly zones over the past decade. And Iraq is forbidden from taking action against any state that chooses to enforce this or prior resolutions. So the Bush Administration has a good legal claim: if the inspectors are obstructed, we can "unobstruct" the inspections by force without another resolution.
Knowing that to be the case, we'll probably press for another resolution anyhow to make it clear that the Security Council agrees with our assessment of the situation. I give that negotiating process 2 weeks. Hence: 2 months to war.