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Matthew Reid: Ignorance is Blix

Ignorance is Blix

by Matthew Reid

I swear we’re living with Alice in Wonderland. Up is down, down is up; black and white have eerily evolved into each other and Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix believes what he cannot see yet doubts what he cannot deny.

The 74-year old Swedish lawyer-turned-bomb-voyeur refuses to come to terms with the reality of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction while claiming that global warming is a much greater concern than war.

Blix, perhaps auditioning for a spot on Real World Baghdad, talked to MTV this week. In an interview with John Norris, Blix said, “To me the question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war.”

Mr. Blix went on to chastise the US for “[going] it’s own way,” on the Kyoto Protocol. If John Norris were a better journalist, maybe he would have asked Hans why India and China were exempt from Kyoto. Or why no country, other than Romania, had ratified the agreement when the US pulled out. Or how President Bush could have enacted the accord—even if he wanted to—after it was defeated in the Senate 95-0. (Senate Resolution 98, the so-called Byrd-Hagel Resolution, was not only passed unanimously—it had 65 bipartisan cosponsors.)

And does Mr. Blix, or John Norris for that matter, wonder why President Bill Clinton never submitted the Kyoto agreement for ratification? The United States Senate, simply, would not have passed it. Not then. Not now. Bush was right to bail on a plan that had no chance of being implemented.

I could also point out the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s petition (, signed by 17,000 leading scientists, which raises serious questions about the existence of global warming. I could remind you of the 1970s hysteria about the “coming ice age,” as reported in the April 28, 1975 Newsweek cover story and in Betty Friedan’s piece, "The Coming Ice Age,” which appeared in the September, 1958 edition of Harper's Magazine—and forever immortalized in the Clash smash, “London Calling.”

It would also be instructive to direct you to Bjørn Lomborg’s book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomborg, a left-leaning Danish statistician, former Greenpeace member and PhD, wrote the book after coming across some studies that discounted global warming. Lomborg set out to disprove these studies, but found them to be accurate. His book, which the Left excommunicated him over, was painstakingly researched and contains over 2900 footnotes.

But let’s get back to Blix. My point is, Blix is more concerned with the threat of global warming, the existence of which the scientific community is deeply divided over, than the weapons which, as British Prime Minister Tony Blair pointed out again in his remarks at the Azores press conference, no one on the security council denies Saddam has.

And, while it’s nice of Hans to use his platform to push his pet projects, it would be even nicer if he would, you know, show a little concern about the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq neglected to include in their December 8, 2002 15,000-page “declaration.” (What exactly was in there anyway?)

At the very least, he could honestly confront the weapons of mass destruction his own team has found. In his latest report to the UN Security Council, Blix withheld information regarding newly discovered cluster bombs and an Iraqi drone equipped with chemical and biological agent dispersal capabilities.

Why we expect results from this guy is beyond me though. Blix was not anyone’s first choice to lead the inspections. A “60 Minutes” report by Steve Kroft, which aired last November, rightly pointed out that—in fact—he was 24th on the list. China, France, Germany, and Russia vetoed the first choices of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and others. Indeed, the first 23 candidates on the list were passed by and a compromise was finally worked out that put Mr. Blix in charge of the inspections regime.

As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency prior to the Gulf War, Blix declared that, “nothing alarming was happening in Iraq.” After the 1991 conflict, UN scientists were surprised at how far Saddam’s nuclear program had advanced—they determined he was only about a year away from securing an atomic bomb when the Persian Gulf War began.

And despite the well-known method Saddam uses to keep people out of his sight under his thumb, i.e., threatening violence against their family members, Blix rejected the idea of interviewing Iraqi weapons scientists outside of the country. UN Resolution 1441 called for the transportation of scientists and their families abroad for interviews—the only way to ensure honest debriefings. Blix’s take on the matter? “I think it is wiser," he said, "to interview the Iraqis inside Iraq and in the presence of a representative of the Iraqi government."

Questions arose about his ability and objectivity from the moment his name surfaced as a possible chief weapons inspector and got worse after his appointment. Blix’s former boss at the Swedish Liberal Youth organization, Per Ahlmark, wrote an article entitled, “Sending in a Dupe to Disarm Saddam.” ( Then again, who can be surprised when the UN itself selects Iraq to chair the Disarmament Committee and puts Libya in charge of the Human Rights Commission?

Mr. Ahlmark said he watched the news of Blix’s appointment “with utter disbelief.” Ahlmark referred to Mr. Blix as amiable and complimented his sense of humor, but called him, “politically…weak and easily fooled.” In, perhaps, his most damning assessment, Ahlmark said, “Mr. Blix, naive and relatively ignorant about technical details — his field is international law — is easily mislead… I can think of few European officials less suitable for a showdown with Saddam.” (And this from a guy who’s known Blix for over 40 years.)

It’s bad enough that his friends warned us he’d be weak. It’s worse when we learn that Saddam’s longtime business partner and “personal friend,” French President Jacques Chirac, suggested Mr. Blix for the job only after consulting with Baghdad “to see whom Saddam would prefer,” according to Ahlmark.

Saddam handpicked Blix!

Judging on performance, Saddam made the right call--at least as far as weapons inspectors go. In calling George W. Bush’s bluff, I have a feeling he couldn’t have been more wrong.


© 2003 Matthew Reid - All Rights Reserved.

Matthew Reid is an internationally syndicated radio host and freelance journalist based in San Francisco, CA. He's broadcast in Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of cities across the globe on the SupeRadio Network. He is also the editor of Mr. Reid can be reached via email at

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