Saddam's Secrets: The Hunt for Iraq's Hidden Weapons

Tim Trevan, Author HarperCollins (UK) $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-00-653113-5
The British author spent several years as a key member of UNSCOM--the United Nations Special Commission for Iraq, tasked with monitoring and enforcing Iraq's dismantling of its capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. In addition to an informative narrative of the U.N.'s frustrating attempts to limit Saddam's weapons program, Trevan offers a valuable perspective on U.N. bureaucracy at a time when the organization is trying to assert its power and influence around the world. He describes the personal dynamics that replace national loyalties; the emphasis on negotiating finesse and the careful parsing of written agreements; the heavy dependence on leaks, back-channeling and spin. From the beginning, Iraqi officials placed every possible obstacle in UNSCOM's path. The deception and evasions were, in Trevan's view, as brazen as they were comprehensive. In the resulting game of ""catch us if you can,"" UNSCOM--with significant help from Israeli intelligence--scored its share of limited, specific successes. In Trevan's final analysis, however, the triumphs were ephemeral as Saddam Hussein continued his weapons research programs, inconvenienced but unthwarted. Not surprisingly, Trevan concludes that ""Iraq was not interested in cooperating with UNSCOM."" To the book's fundamental question--how can democracies force a hostile nondemocracy to ""be good"" without compromising democratic principles?--Trevan offers some answers in an epilogue. He argues for an increasing transfer of both sovereignty and power to international organizations, specifically the U.N. In fact, despite Saddam's success in dodging UNSCOM, Trevan considers UNSCOM a paradigm: ""excellent people bound by a strong culture of achievement and attention to detail."" (June)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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