June 13, 2003 | Commentary on Middle East
Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.
Perhaps that is why top U.N. weapons cop, Hans Blix, feels bitter and alone.
Twice he's been denied disarmament victories by the Butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein. From 1981 through 1991, Blix's watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency failed to detect Iraq's nuclear weapons program. And most recently, when the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission he led spent three and a half months combing Iraq and came up essentially empty-handed.
But the czar of global nonproliferation plans and policy is unwilling to acknowledge the U.N. legacy of failure in reining in Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Instead, he's taking pot shots at Pentagon hawks and the quality of American cloak and dagger, which he believes might have denied him his rightful place in history.
Blix told the Guardian (a London paper) this week that the Pentagon ran a smear campaign against him. On Wednesday, he told ABC News that Washington should have had better intelligence before launching a war. "I mean, if you want to start a war on this basis, then I think the intelligence should be good, not just, 'Sorry about that, it was wrong intelligence,'" Blix said.
This whining and sniveling is unbefitting a man of Blix's stature and record of public service. He obviously didn't get the U.N. office memo about going out gracefully and diplomatically.
The fact is that Blix himself believed that Saddam had WMD. And he wasn't alone apparently. In February, Blix reported to the U.N. Security Council that: "We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programs continue to exist."
The French, Germans, British and the Russians were also believers.
Blix had a tough job in Iraq, but his recriminations and historical revisionism are disappointing and unhelpful. Understandably, he wants to leave the U.N.'s lackluster record on Iraqi disarmament in an orphanage, but his histrionics will only tarnish his reputation and that of the U.N. and international nonproliferation regimes.
Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, is a senior fellow for national-security affairs at the Heritage Foundation.
Reprinted with permission by New York Post