"Ritter is being sent back because Annan has to prove that he’s going to take a hard line with Iraq over weapons inspections,” says TIME’s U.N. correspondent William Dowell. Baghdad expelled Ritter not simply because he was American, but because he headed up UNSCOM’s attempts to expose Iraq’s concealment and deception, explains Dowell. “If the Iraqis let him back in to continue his work, it’s a show of good faith on their part.” Of course, if Saddam decides once again to block Ritter’s efforts, the crisis will rewind to the (by now rather confusing) brink.
MacArthur had to wait years to fulfill his promise to “return”; for Scott Ritter the wait was only two months. The former Marine captain expelled by Saddam Hussein in January arrived back in Baghdad today to lead his UNSCOM inspection team, marking the first major test of Kofi Annan’s agreement.