Last week, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq reported that, like his U.N counterparts before the war, he had not uncovered Iraqi stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction or active weapons production efforts inside the country. David Kay and the 1,400 members of his investigative team may yet find the weapons stocks the Bush administration said were sure to be there. But such discoveries are increasingly unlikely.
The gap between President Bush's warnings and Kay's preliminary findings raises at least three important questions as the United States shapes its policy toward the weapons programs of North Korea, Iran and other countries: How reliable is U.S. intelligence on foreign weapons programs? Can sanctions and inspections play a useful role in containing the threat from such programs? And are pre-emptive attacks the most effective way to deal with such threats?
Elisa D. Harris is a senior research scholar at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.
Ivo H. Daalder was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is co-author of the just-released "America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy."