Iraq: AreSanctions Collapsing?Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
May 21, 1998
Statement of Richard Perle before the United States Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Energy and Natural Resources May 21, 1998 The Committee has convened this hearing to examine the question "Iraq: are sanctions collapsing?" You will hear at least three perspectives on this issue this morning, probably more. I can give you mine with some efficiency: the sanctions regime is indeed collapsing, along with American policy toward Iraq. In fact, there is little to distinguish the Iraq sanctions from American policy since American policy is nothing more than the desperate embrace of sanctions of diminishing effectiveness punctuated by occasional whining, frequent bluster, political retreat and military paralysis. What the Administration calls a policy of containment has become an embarrassment as our friends and allies in the region and elsewhere ignore our feckless imprecations and reposition themselves for Saddam's triumph over the United States. More than six years after his defeat in Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein is outsmarting, outmaneuvering and outflanking what may be the weakest foreign policy team in any American administration in the second half of the century. The coalition once rayed against Saddam is in disarray, marking a stunning reversal of the position of leadership occupied by the United States just six years ago. Ambassador Pickering will undoubtedly tell you everything is fine, that American diplomacy in the Gulf is determined and effective, that we have been and will continue to be successful in "containing" Saddam. But everything isn't fine; American diplomacy in the Gulf is weak and ineffective; we have been failing to contain Saddam politically; and he is getting stronger as American policy becomes manifestly weaker. The United States, mass-marketer to the world, is losing a propaganda war with Saddam Hussein, mass-murderer of his own citizens, over the issue of humanitarian concern. With much of the world believing that Iraqi babies are starving because of U.S. policies rather than the policies of Saddam Hussein, we are facing a political-diplomatic defeat of historic significance in the Gulf and the Administration, bereft of ideas, energy or imagination, is doing nothing to stop it. You will hear from others, perhaps in classified meetings as well as this one, about violations of the existing sanctions against Iraq. I am sure that even the CIA, which has a nearly unbroken record of failure in assessing, understanding and operating in the Gulf, will report how Iraqi oil is loaded on barges and shipped to UAE waters where, after appropriate fees have been collected by Iran, the cash flows back to Saddam. You will certainly hear about how enough South Korean four wheel drive vehicles to equip two Republican Guard brigades made it easily through the barriers erected to enforce the current sanctions-barriers, by the way, based on 151 United Nations inspectors overseeing a country of 22 million people. The Committees will learn how Saddam controls the ration cards that tighten hisgrip on a hapless Iraqi people as they queue up to receive humanitarian food supplies purchased with "oil for food" dollars. After you have been briefed by the Administration and its experts, after you have examined the facts about the efficacy of the current sanctions and the prospects that they can be kept in place and made effective, I suspect you will come to the following 10 conclusions, which I urge you to consider: First, there is no reason to believe that a continuation of the sanctions will drive Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq or that they will be effective in eliminating his relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Second, the pressure to relax the sanctions, which has already pushed to more than $10 billion per year the amount of revenue Iraq is allowed from the sale of oil, will not subside and will almost certainly increase. Third, the French, Russians and others will continue to agitate for the further relaxation of sanctions and the United states will almost certainly make further concessions in this regard. Fourth, there are already significant violations of the sanctions and these can be expected to continue and even increase. The United Nations is hopelessly ill-equipped to monitor and enforce a strict sanctions regime. Fifth, Saddam's exploitation of the health and hunger issue has created the impression that sanctions, and not Saddam's manipulation of the humanitarian food and medicine programs, is the cause of mass suffering and ill health in Iraq. Sixth, No one in the region believes that the United States has or will soon adopt a policy that could be effective in bringing Saddam down. The result was a collapse of support for the United States when it blustered about getting tough with Saddam-and an inexorable drift away from the U.S. and toward Saddam. Seventh, When the sanctions have diminished, as they inevitably will, when they have been eroded by circumvention, relaxation and de-legitimization, Saddam's triumph will be complete and he will become the predominant political force in the Gulf region with disastrous consequences for the United States and its allies. Eighth, Saddam's eventual political victory will be followed by a restoration of his military power. Ninth, only a policy that is openly based on the need to eliminate the Saddam Hussein regime has any hope of attracting sufficient support in the region to succeed. Tenth, without legislation and other pressure on the Administration there will be no change in current policy, previous Congressional initiatives will be sidelined or ignored and irreparable damage will be done to the position of the United States in the region and the world.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|