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http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,842958,00.html Blix bears brunt of hawks' frustration Right finds new target after losing argument to fight swift war on Iraq Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington Tuesday November 19, 2002 The Guardian The claims by Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, that he has been the target of a smear campaign by Pentagon hawks is the culmination of months of tension at the heart of the Bush administration about the UN inspection team. Earlier this year the deputy secretary for defence, Paul Wolfowitz, ordered a CIA report on why Mr Blix, as chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency during the 1980s and 1990s, failed to detect Iraqi nuclear activity. Mr Blix has much more sweeping powers now, but that fact has failed to banish the suspicions of a cluster of hardliners in the administration that includes Mr Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, the under-secretary for defence, and John Bolton, the deputy secretary of state. "There are a whole group of people in this administration who are against multilateral institutions, and also the people that staff them," said Joseph Cirincione, the director of the non-proliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Hans Blix to some of these people is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the multilateral approach." The resurrection of UN arms inspections for Iraq is seen as a defeat for the hawkish sections of the administration - both for relatively straightforward nationalists such as the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, as well as for the faction led by Mr Wolfowitz, who have been described by scholars as "democratic imperialists". Mr Wolfowitz, influenced by Richard Perle, chairman of the defence policy board, is believed to view US military action in Iraq as the first step in a larger project of realignment and democratisation of the Middle East. For months, the hardliners pressed home the case for a military strike against Iraq, ratcheting up their arguments to such an extent that intelligence officials complained of intense pressure to cook up information that would support a war. In August, Mr Cheney said Iraq would have nuclear weapons "fairly soon" -in direct contradiction of CIA reports that it would take at least five more years. Mr Rumsfeld, meanwhile, accused Saddam Hussein of providing sanctuary to al-Qaida operatives fleeing Afghanistan - although they had actually travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan, which is outside his control. Until the summer, the hardliners were firmly in the ascendancy. But all their efforts were undone by George Bush's decision to take America's case against Iraq to the UN. "There is no question that a battle was won on September 12 when President Bush went to the UN, and instead of condemning it, praised it and embraced it and promised that the US would work through its administration to disarm Iraq and to resort to military force only as a last resort. That is not the strategy some in the Pentagon had been agitating for for months," said Mr Cirincione. Powell's campaign Mr Bush's decision to work through the UN was a product of a dogged campaign by Mr Powell, detailed at great length in a series of reports in the Washington Post which paint a picture of a highly changeable administration prone to shifts in policy direction on an almost weekly basis. However, Mr Powell had been disturbed for some time at his dwindling influence in the administration - particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a weakness he sought to remedy by requesting a series of personal chats with Mr Bush. The conversations, which began in August, appeared to have paid off as Mr Powell swayed Mr Bush towards his arguments to work with the UN. Even so, it was not seen as a secure victory. The hardliners continued to believe they could woo the president back to their way of thinking, and the Washington Post reported blistering rows between Mr Cheney, described as "hell-bent for action" against Iraq, and Mr Powell on the wording of the speech. In the end, Mr Powell triumphed. The rhetoric of the speech was scaled down, and he threw himself into the behind the scenes diplomacy that resulted in a unanimous security council resolution on November 8 for sending weapons inspectors to Iraq. But, as Mr Blix noted yesterday, it is virtually certain that the hawks remain determined to return to the ascendancy. "This may be a very low moment for them, but I think they believe in the long run they will have their chance," said Ellen Laitson, president of the Henry Stimson Centre, a Washington-based thinktank. "I think they have done a lot to set up very high expectations, and a very high standard, and they are already preparing for the inspections not to work. If you look at the deployment in the region, and how the bureaucracy is gearing up, they are putting a lot in motion militarily even though there may be this temporary lull of the inspections." Some commentators have predicted the hawks will try to set a trigger date for December 8 - when Iraq is supposed to provide a declaration of its arsenal. Amid expectations of a patently false declaration, the hawks will try hard to get their early war despite Mr Blix. _________________________________________________________ Don't miss your favorite TV programs because you have it all daily on your own Maktoob TV Guide. http://maktoob.tv-now.net _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk