I am a history teacher at LaPorte High School in LaPorte, Indiana (you know, that place that Stanley Changnon said had the worst weather in the United States). Anyway, my students and I would like to know how we can become UN weapons inspectors and how much the job pays. We would also like to know if you get benefits and get to keep those vehicles that they drive around Iraq. Do you get jumpsuits with your name on them like the Ghostbusters had? Thanks for your time. I use your dope in class all the time.
--Your pal, R.J. Otis
Let's chill on using dope in class, R.J.--you don't want to set a bad example. As for getting jobs as weapons inspectors, you guys are a little late--the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) started hiring three years ago, when it appointed Hans Blix executive chairman. Not that you would've had much chance of landing his job. While I don't wish to deprecate the skills required to be a history teacher in LaPorte, Indiana, Dr. Blix was director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997 and has a cool Swedish accent besides. Then again, many claim Blix was chosen in the belief that he'd go easier on Iraq than the guy the U.S. and UK wanted, Rolf Ekeus. If the goal was not to find anything, why couldn't the UN have appointed a bunch of high school students and saved some bucks?
Never fear, you may still have a chance. Though the weapons inspectors have already been hired, many challenging and remunerative positions with the UNMOVIC team remain available, and I venture to say that the fact that you and your students have a pretty low international profile won't be held against you--on the contrary. As of this writing
UNMOVIC gumshoes have had little success finding the smoking gun that everybody hopes President Bush will provide before he sends in the shock troops. Let it slip that you've spent the last few semesters frisking LPHS students for weapons and drugs (hey, I've been to LaPorte), and the folks at UNMOVIC's human resources department are bound to think: Whoa, here's our boy. As for your students, just put down that they're all experienced hall monitors.
What types of jobs are available? Check out "employment and training" at www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/ for a list. On the day I looked, I saw openings for a communications officer, two information manager assistants, and a half dozen other personnel. The job descriptions don't say anything about jumpsuits, but the lowliest job listed pays $51,225, and a "transport officer" pulls down a cool $109,792 (which will go a lot further if you're stationed in Baghdad). I don't know what they're paying history teachers these days, but I'd get that resume dusted off toot sweet.
Maybe you and the class were hoping for something a little sexier than "information manager assistant," though. Browsing further, I found the following notice: "UNMOVIC is looking for experts with the following experience: Missiles--Degree in engineering; experience in missile design, manufacturing and testing, familiarity with machine tools related to missile manufacturing, or experience with liquid or solid propellant manufacturing and testing." They also want experts in chemical and biological weapons. Sound a little more like it? You might have to finesse the part about an engineering degree, but surely some of the kids have taken shop. As for experience in missile design--look, Cecil went to high school. Let me tell you about the senior stunt the boys and I pulled off. OK, it involved weather balloons, not missiles, but for 75 dollars you can't expect the V-2 program. All I'm saying is, if I were facing a cunning and devious opponent and could have either a bunch of paper-pushing eggheads or a crew of high school students experienced in, how shall I say, practical munitions design, I know who I'd want on my team.
As it is, it's not like UNMOVIC is hiring Wernher von Braun. Controversy erupted recently when it came to light that one UN weapons analyst, Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge of Woodbridge, Virginia, had founded a "pansexual" S and M club called Black Rose, taught courses on sex slaves and bondage techniques involving ropes and choking devices, and served as an officer in the Leather Leadership Conference. His resume lists no specialized engineering degree, just an associate's degree in security management from a community college. Nonetheless, Blix declined McGeorge's offer to resign, perhaps feeling that leadership is leadership, and that UNMOVIC could use a take-charge kind of guy. Surely if there's a place at the UN for this character, there's a place for you.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Slug Signorino.