Was it then correct to send military forces to the Gulf, in case Saddam continued his long policy of defiance, concealment, and expulsion or obstruction of U.N. inspectors?
If you understand the history of the inspection process at all, you must concede that Saddam would never have agreed to readmit the inspectors if coalition forces had not made their appearance on his borders and in the waters of the Gulf. It was never a choice between inspection and intervention: It was only the believable threat of an intervention that enabled even limited inspections to resume.
I don't concede that at all. As I remember it, Saddam had announced that the inspectors could return (and with no restrictions, he claimed) long before the troops were sent. It was a strategic blunder of the highest order for the USA to have spurned the offer. Imagine ten thousand UN inspectors wandering around Iraq in their conspicuously-marked vehicles. Such a show of international force would have had a corrosive effect on Hussein's prestige and power; it would be obvious that he had been rolled. And had he then refused to allow inspectors to look wherever they wanted, such refusal would have been a legitimate casus belli.