When bureaucracy meets bamboozlement


When bureaucracy meets bamboozlement, or Where’re Pynchon and DeLillo When We Need Them.

According to the Post, despite the fact that even the most confirmed yahoo now concedes that late Saddam-era Iraq had no WMDs, the UN has not and apparently cannot get around to shutting down the office charged with monitoring Saddam’s weapons and disarming the now-disheaded Saddam Hussein.

Writes Colum Lynch: “Every weekday, at a secure commercial office building on Manhattan’s East Side, a team of 20 U.N. experts on chemical and biological weapons pores over satellite images of former Iraqi weapons sites. They scour the international news media for stories on Hussein’s deadly arsenal. They consult foreign intelligence agencies on the status of Iraqi weapons. And they maintain a cadre of about 300 weapons experts from 50 countries and prepare them for inspections in Iraq — inspections they will almost certainly never conduct, in search of weapons that few believe exist.”

The reality of the situation is even more comic and bizarre then the headline. Even I wasn’t completely sure I understood it after reading Lynch’s article in the Post. But the essence of it seems to be this: the US and the Brits want to shut the thing down, but the Russians say the word has to come from the inspectors themselves. The inspectors, in turn, say they can’t definitively say that Saddam/Iraq has been disarmed because they haven’t been given access to the records of the Coalition-led Iraq Study Group.

Meanwhile, the current head of the inspectors, a Greek weapons expert named Dimitri Perricos doesn’t really seem to want to give up the gig. Indeed, Perricos warns that the Iraqi inspectorate should be kept going because insurgents, terrorists or some new Iraqi government could well reconstitute the weapons at some point in the future. (Hey, where was this guy when Bush and Cheney and Hanity really needed him, right?) Presumably, Martians might also reconstitute the weapons. But he seems not yet to have played this card.

We quote form the Post quoting Perricos …

“Look, Iraq is not Denmark,” he said. “They’ve made botulin, anthrax, VX, sarin; they’ve made the whole spectrum of horrifying items, and they’ve used them. We don’t know how things are going to develop in the region, and we want to be sure there are some controls.”

Last month, Perricos showed the U.N. commission’s board satellite imagery of plundered Iraqi chemical factories that produce chlorine, which has been used by Iraqi insurgents in chlorine-bomb suicide attacks. He warned that insurgents may obtain more deadly chemical weapons on the black market, according to U.N. officials.

You get the sense the Russians are getting a bit of a kick out of this.