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Disregarding the Deniers
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Inspections; Intelligence gathering; War; Weapons of mass destruction
Author: Will, George F
Date: Feb 6, 2003
Start Page: A.37
Section: EDITORIAL

After dismissing [Colin Powell]'s photographs and voice intercepts as "information, indications, questions, which deserve further exploration," de Villepin declared: "It will be up to the inspectors to assess the facts as is stated in Resolution 1441." Such cheek. De Villepin put Powell through torturous word-by-word negotiation of 1441 and knows that it does not contain what he, de Villepin, now purports to find in it. It does not vest in Hans Blix's minions the sovereign power to declare for the United Nations whether Iraq is in material breach.

Concluding with cascading billows of fog about "a collective demarche of responsibility by the international community," de Villepin proposed using "some unused space in Resolution 1441" by "decisive reinforcement" of the inspections, tripling the number of inspectors (to all of 300 for an uncooperative nation the size of California) and opening regional offices. In a flourish that defies satire, de Villepin called for Iraq to pass "legislation" prohibiting itself from manufacturing prohibited weapons.

De Villepin having deflated the French reputation for deft diplomacy, we are left with the stark fact that Iraq is demonstrating contempt for U.N. Resolution 1441 and for the United Nations itself. If the United Nations' supine response is to prolong the inspection charade in a futile attempt to stymie U.S. force, the United Nations will demonstrate contempt for 1441 and hence for its own pretense of moral authority and practical utility.

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