Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kill the messenger- particularly when it proves you wrong

The most successful international team ever assembled to probe suspected WMD activities is shutting down this week—thanks to U.S. and British insistence. The team (the U.N. commission initially acronymed UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC) spent 16 years uncovering and destroying Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and missile weapons programs. The U.S. invasion of Iraq proved that the U.N.'s intel—overruled by the Bush administration—had indeed been correct: Saddam no longer had WMD. But late last month, the U.S. and British governments pushed through the U.N. Security Council a vote to halt funding for UNMOVIC.

The decision dismayed WMD experts. The action foreclosed discussions that were going on behind the scenes at the U.N. on whether UNMOVIC—or parts of it, such as its roster of close to 400 trained inspectors—should be retained to monitor biological and missile proliferation threats. "UNMOVIC is a unique resource," says Hans Blix, who led the Iraq inspections. "Once dispersed, that expertise will not easily be reassembled. But as ever, one has to understand the politics here."

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