Tracking Number: 166452
Title: "Aspin: Gulf Diplomacy Needs Arms Threat to Succeed." Remarks of House Armed Services Chairman Les Aspin to the Center for Strategic and International Studies and
following question-and-answer session. (901221)
ASPIN: GULF DIPLOMACY NEEDS ARMS THREAT TO SUCCEED (Transcript: Aspin CSIS remarks 12/21/90) (8920)
Washington -- U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin says that sanctions alone will not undo Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. He believes the best chance for a peaceful settlement of the gulf crisis is a diplomatic effort backed up by "the credible threat" of military force.
Aspin, whose committee just held a series of hearing on the gulf crisis, gave his assessment of the situation there during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) here December 21.
The following is a transcript of his speech and the question-and-answer session that followed:
REP. ASPIN: Thank you very much for that very, very kind introduction. It is a pleasure for me to be here today to be the one who gives the David M. Abshire Lecture. The lectures are a continuing tribute to the founder of CSIS, a dedicated public servant, and a friend. Ambassador Abshire's career stretches from West Point and combat in Korea to service as an assistant secretary of state and ambassador to NATO. He's helped to find thoughtful statesmanship in Washington, which is something we can always use.
Now, my topic today is the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its implications. Now in a way, that's a rather risky thing to do, because there's no question but that we're dealing here with a moving target and in the next few weeks we're likely to see a great deal of movement happen.
I'd rather not deliver an Abshire lecture in the morning only to have it rendered it inoperable by the evening newscast. In fact, the speech which was written several days ago already has a paragraph which has been overtaken by events and will have to be elided -- have to be redone when I get there in the light of something that happened yesterday and that was in this morning's papers. But anyway, in spite of the timing problems of the thing, I believe there's no more important question before us today than those presented by this crisis in the Gulf. So here we go.
GE 2 nxe511 For the region, the Middle East region, this event is a watershed event. Things are not likely to be the same again. For example, it's unlikely that pan-Arab nationalism will ever be quite the same. The US-Saudi relationship has acquired a new visibility. US troops now are flooding into the area of Saudi Arabia, which of course formerly preferred our presence to be over the horizon. Egypt and Syria are side by side, not toe to toe. There are strains, perhaps differences, in the US-Israeli relationship. In all, the Middle East is not going to be the same.
But even beyond that, beyond the region itself, beyond the regional issues, far more important for the United States is that this crisis (is) the first, maybe the prototype crisis of the post-Cold War world. Now, how this crisis is resolved or how the resolution of this crisis is perceived, will determine a great deal about how American foreign policy is conducted in this new era. I believe the lessons learned in this crisis will be cited for years to come when questions arise about can or should we work with the United Nations, when questions arise about whether we can or should use force, when questions arise about how or (whether) Congress can or should use its decision-making power on matters of war and peace.
Of course, it'll be much easier to pontificate about all this at next year's Abshire lecture, but we're risking it today because the issues are so important. Now, the invasion of Kuwait on August the 2nd confronted the United States government with three major concerns. In shorthand, in three words, they were: oil, aggression, and nukes. We're sending our men and women in uniform into harm's way and conducting an embargo on Saddam Hussein because he threatens access to oil and thereby the economic well-being not only of the United States but of all the industrialized countries. His aggressiveness against a smaller, weaker neighbor is destabilizing and sets a very bad precedent for the post-Cold War world. And by nukes, I mean the continuing military threat that he poses with his million- man army, biological and chemical weapons, and potential nuclear capability.
The US government has essentially three ways to deal with this crisis. They are diplomacy, sanctions, or war. Now, the House Armed Services Committee has undertaken a series of hearings over the last three weeks to explore the costs, risks, and advantages and disadvantages of pursuing each of these. The first week we had the hearings on sanctions; the second week was on war; and just the week that we've completed here is that we've had a week of hearings on diplomacy.
We have attempted a systematic, thorough examination of each of these three in the hopes of verifying a basis for Congress and for the country to reach judgments about the
GE 3 nxe511 proper course of action. Today, in conjunction with the speech, I'm releasing a white paper on sanctions that grows out of this effort. Other reports will follow soon on diplomacy and how we might prosecute a war in the Persian Gulf. Next week, the white paper on diplomatic solutions will be released.
Now, when we went into this and looked at these three methods of resolving the crisis, some conclusions we reached very quickly. One is that the three are clearly interactive. You don't just do one without the other. Diplomacy is unlikely to work without a credible military threat or sanctions, for example. The military threat is enhanced when sanctions constrict the flow of spare parts to Saddam's war machine, et cetera.
Now, a second conclusion is that there is no really one good solution. All three of these things, whether you pursue the resolution of this crisis by sanctions or you do it by diplomacy or you do it by war, all of them have got downsides and risks and costs. There's no -- when you look at them all, there's not really something that jumps out of the page at you.
I'm reminded about this when we had a -- recent visitors from the Soviet Union. A bunch of economists came in and we were at the House Armed Services Committee. We were talking with them and they would -- they said -- you know - - the spokesman for the group said, "The economics here in the Soviet Union -- we have essentially three choices," he says. So I said, "Oh boy, here comes Option B, huh?"
So, "First choice," he said, "we could go immediately to a market economy -- just take all controls off. But," he said, "that would be a disaster," and he explained it. Then he said "We could strengthen our controls and have a really controlled economy, going back to strengthening our controls. But," he said, "that would be a disaster. But," he said, "we have a third choice. The third choice is, we could do something in between -- some controls and some not -- be a free market and move gradually along a path," he says. "But that would be a disaster," he says.
So, the point being that we may face -- the point of all of this is that some problems have no really easy solutions. This may be one of them, this Persian Gulf Iraq invasion of Kuwait.
But before I discuss these options individually, the -- I want to discuss essentially the diplomacy and the sanctions this morning. But before we discuss those two options individually -- and let me set this thing into a political and military context -- there has been, I believe, a great deal of agreement in our policy in the Gulf, much more than you might think from following the hearings and the debates in Congress. There was, of course, a great deal of support
GE 4 nxe511 for the action taken by the President early in the crisis; sending the troops into Saudi Arabia to protect the Saudi Arabian government, and the oilfields; getting the UN to endorse the sanctions and getting the UN to endorse the use of force -- to back up the sanctions. All of that was supported.
There's also a great deal of agreement that Saddam Hussein must get out of Kuwait and if all else fails I believe there is support for the use of force. But that qualifier -- if all else fails -- is very, very important. It's an issue that will be decided by the calendar.
Have we given peaceful means enough time to work?
Here's how I believe the Bush administration is dealing with the calendar. Some time towards the end of October, I believe the administration made the decision that it wanted to bring matters in the Gulf to a head by the late winter. Exhibit A was the announcement on November 8th of a doubling of US troop strength in the Persian Gulf. An increase of about two divisions had been expected, instead the announcement was for the equivalent of nearly five divisions. Exhibit B was the word that there would be no rotation of US troops. The five division equivalents announced in November -- November 8th -- weren't replacements, they were reinforcements. Exhibit C was the successful initiative to get the UN resolution authorizing the use of force to oust Iraq from Kuwait after January 15th by force if necessary.
Now, the troop increase, the absence of a troop rotation policy and the UN deadline all point to a decision by the administration to bring matters to a head sometime say, around February. This was clearly a lot sooner than many people -- and many people -- members of Congress -- were prepared for. There had been no explicit discussion of this quickened pace in any of the meetings that were held between the congressional leadership and the White House. In fact, ten days before the November 8th announcement, there was a meeting in the White House with the congressional leadership at which no mention was made of changing time lines and a massive increase in strength or anything about troop rotation policies.
The President and members of his administration have repeatedly said that they want to work with Congress and are consulting closely with us. And there have been meetings -- lots of them. The problem hasn't been the quantity of the meetings or the consultations, but the quality. The November 8th announcement exposed a faultline in what had appeared to be generally solid support for the President's Persian Gulf policies. Many in Congress and critics elsewhere had assumed that the sanctions option would be given time to work. The Bush Administration was serving notice that that wasn't the case. Now, this is the sort of thing, of course, that drives Congress absolutely
GE 5 nxe511 crazy. The administration, without proper consultation, embarks on a policy that commits the country internationally. Some in Congress have reservations about the policy, but at the same time it's clear that to force the administration to back off of that policy has grave implications. This creates some very strong frustrations on Capitol Hill, and the administration is gambling that those frustrations won't come back to haunt them.
So the stage is set for a clash over time lines between war and sanctions. In the meantime -- in the meantime, however, the stepchild option, diplomacy, has come up on our radar screen. Ever since the President announced reciprocal visits of Secretary Baker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, people have been talking about a negotiated settlement to the crisis. Before we look at the other options, war and sanctions, let's look at this case for diplomacy.
Now, the administration, of course, denies that negotiations are intended at all. The President says he merely wants to make sure that his get out of Kuwait message gets to Saddam Hussein directly, and is not filtered out by some sycophantic advisors. But to the outside observer, it certainly appears that negotiations are going on, not quietly, but very publicly.
First, Secretary Baker says on a Sunday talk show that if Saddam Hussein pulls out of Kuwait, the United States has no interest in attacking Iraq. Next, Saddam Hussein releases all the hostages, thereby removing a very important flash point. Next, the United States government announces that it is no longer necessary to keep the US Embassy in Kuwait open, also removing a flash point.
Now, this is not a negligible record for non-negotiation. In fact, it has raised the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the crisis. What kind of a resolution might we negotiate? Clearly, Secretary Baker could not agree to anything less than full compliance with the UN resolutions. In the first place, he's not authorized to negotiate on the UN resolutions. And in the second, he said over and over again that anything else was out of the question. But discussions on other things are possible.
Let us recall for a minute what happened in the Cuban missile crisis. The Cuban missile crisis was resolved with the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba, our principal concern. And it was scored as a major success for President Kennedy. Now, one of the things that President Kennedy and the Kennedy Administration agreed to at the time was not to do something he wouldn't have done anyway -- namely invade Cuba. Jim Baker has already said that if Saddam Hussein pulls out of Kuwait, we would not attack Iraq. This might offer a model for other things we
GE 6 nxe511 might agree to not do. Something along this line might be enough to get Saddam to withdraw.
Second, like the Cuban missile crisis, we might agree to do something after the crisis that we intended to do anyway -- the equivalent of pulling American Jupiter missiles out of Turkey. We might, for example, agree to a peace conference to discuss the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian issue. Or we might agree, as we already have, to negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait about the border after an Iraqi withdrawal.
If those kind of solutions occurred, then, I think the U. S. government and George Bush could claim victory over the aggressor, and that would be a substantial achievement.
Now this is not an ideal solution. There are those (who) would say with some justification that Saddam Hussein will just go back to brood in his tent in Baghdad for three or four or five years to emerge again, this time with nuclear weapons. In short, they would say we've not only postponed the inevitable, we've made it tougher.
Clearly, the diplomatic option does not deal with the questions of the military threat posed by Iraq and of safeguarding oil supplies. These would have to be dealt with by ancillary measures such as controls on nuclear technologies, an embargo on certain military items and a continuing multinational armed force of some kind in Kuwait.
But this kind of solution would deal with the immediate aggression. And it was this issue, in the invasion of Kuwait, with which the U.N. resolutions are chiefly occupied., This aggression is the problem that is most effectively dealt with by the stated goals of President Bush's policy. And aggression is the issue that the Bush Administration has most publicly and most effectively gone after.
Basically, I believe a negotiated settlement along these lines -- provided it included full compliance with the U.N. resolutions -- would be perceived by Americans as victory for U.S. policy and one that was achieved without bloodshed. I, myself, believe that there is a fair chance that this is how this whole thing will end.
There is another possible outcome that is related. That is a partial withdrawal from Kuwait with continued occupation of the Bubiyan and Warbah Islands and the Rumailah oilfield. Now clearly, Jim Baker could not and would not agree to that. And so it's not really -- you couldn't really call it a negotiated outcome. But it has always been a possibility, and the possibility will be even greater in the next few weeks that Saddam Hussein will simply unilaterally withdraw partially from Kuwait and present us with a fait accompli.
GE 7 nxe511
If Saddam Hussein does this, we're left with the question of what would be our policy and what would the U.S. and the allies do next. This is clearly not an outcome which can be accepted, but in terms of American public opinion, it will be very difficult to see how the American people would believe that war was still necessary. This has not been called the nightmare scenario for nothing. But if no diplomatic settlement happens -- and I think we'll know in the next few weeks whether this thing has got a shot at it or not -- if nothing happens over the next few weeks, and we don't have the nightmare, we don't get a nightmare scenario in the next few weeks, then we're left with the conflict in timelines between bringing it all to a head by -- early, on the one hand, and waiting for the sanctions to work, on the other.
Now, at the House Armed Services Committee, we spent a great deal of time and effort on trying to understand this issue of sanctions, as I explained. I've learned a lot from these hearings, which is essentially the basis for the white paper on sanctions. That is being released today. And let me -- and there's more discussion of the conclusions in that white paper if you are interested. But let me give you some of the basic -- essentially the conclusions here.
The conclusions are, first of all, technically -- technically, the sanctions against Iraq are an unprecedented success. Two things that chiefly account for this. One is the international unity displayed so far against Iraq's aggression; and second, and by far the more important factor, is the peculiar geographic vulnerability of Iraq and its enormous dependence on oil exports.
Iraq has only three ways to export oil: pipeline through Turkey, pipeline through Saudi Arabia, and shipped down the Persian Gulf. Cutting off these three avenues of export, which we've done, shuts down 95 to 97 percent of Iraq's export of oil and its only real source of foreign exchange. It almost doesn't matter whether the embargo works to shut off the imports coming in. It's really the export of oil, because Iraq has no foreign exchange to buy imports if the oil export is cut off. And certainly not too many people are willing to sell to Iraq on credit.
So the results have been really quite spectacular. I mean, really spectacular. According to most estimates, the impact on Iraq will be equal to about 48 percent of gross national product over the next one to two years. Now by contrast, a study of past sanctions -- of sanctions campaigns by the Institute for International Economics notes that the impact on GNP of successful sanctions campaigns against other targets was more like 2.4 percent. I mean, we are talking about a level of squeeze conducted by these sanctions that is really unprecedented in the history of sanctions. And I think that has caused a lot of
GE 8 nxe511 people to immediately say the sanctions are working, as indeed technically, the sanctions are working.
But it is one thing for sanctions to work technically, and it's another thing for them to work politically. Technically, the sanctions may turn Iraq's economy into a basket case, but they only work politically if they either force the government to change its policy, or if the pain of the sanctions forces the Iraqis to change their government. They have not done so to date, which is of course not too surprising. It takes time. But the real questions are, will the sanctions work politically at some time in the future, and can we keep the pressure on until that date arrives? The fact that sanctions aren't working so well technically means that we have to answer these questions very, very carefully.
Now, experts on sanctions will tell us that the history of these tools is in fact not very promising. Historically, only one in three sanctions campaigns work, and they work politically. And that only after four to five years. But they also tell us that the international embargo against Iraq is unique, and that the extent of sanctions -- the economic impact of these sanctions, the number of countries involved, all of that thing -- all make this a case which essentially falls out of their experience, beyond the boundaries of their data.
When it's all said and done, there is a significant number of experts in this field that believe that if we keep the corresponding political and military pressure on, the extensive sanctions imposed on Iraq could work a political change in one to two years from inception. Now, this is about the same time line that the administration's critics are saying that we ought to take to give the sanctions time to work.
Now, clearly if that were the case, there are a number of advantages for allowing the sanctions to work. First, it avoids war, terrible loss of life, and uncertain implications for US interests in the region. Second, it allows for the building of a domestic consensus. In short, it supports the "tried everything view" most --(inaudible) -- quote, unquote, "tried everything." Most Americans before they go to war want to make sure that we have everything short of war. And this says how long we wait for the sanctions to work is really more of a political question than an economic one. But surely the administration's critics have a point here. Waiting until February for the sanctions to work is probably not long enough.
Now a third argument for giving sanctions a chance is the question of the impact on the Iraqi military. The CIA believes that the sanctions will begin to have some impact on the Iraqi air force at the end of three months and
GE 9 nxe511 perhaps on the ground forces in about nine months -- these are date from now; three months from now for the air force, maybe nine months from now on the ground forces. The intelligence agencies note, however, that this is not certain, that Iraq has a large number of weapons which may allow them to cannibalize the weapons in Iraq and move the parts into the Kuwait area, which is the relevant -- the relevant area of conflict.
So those are the basic advantages, and they're not inconsiderable. But they are also, unfortunately, disadvantages, arguments of why the strategy would not work so well: One, is the vulnerability of the coalition; two, the vagaries of international events; three, the clash of cultures, and four, the momentum of choices already made.
First, the vulnerability of the coalition: One of the hallmarks of this time of high velocity change is that we tend to treat as commonplace today what seemed to be really miraculous yesterday. It's much too soon to take for granted this unlikely grouping of allies in the Persian Gulf. The brutal invasion and pillaging of a small Arab state by a larger -- a larger country or one that also happens to be the best armed bully on the block, is about the only thing that would bring this such an unlikely coalition together.
There are lots of things that could tear it apart; including things that have nothing to do with Kuwait or Iraq. The incident at Temple Mount is an example. It has no direct connection to the Persian Gulf crisis; yet it was linked in a very real sense. Can coalition members continue to exert the necessary political and economic and military pressure on Saddam Hussein in support of sanctions while fighting in New York over other issues such as resolutions critical of Israel? I mean, it's a continuous line. I mean, now they're talking about the ones about expelling this -- the Israelis' decision to expel from the country. It's a continuous line. Can the UN continue the cohesion in support of the sanctions against Iraq while fighting about the enforcement of other UN resolutions on Israel? It's unlikely to imagine that that could go on for a year, 18 months, without having an impact on the coherence of the pressure that we're putting on Saddam Hussein.
The coalition has economic as well as political vulnerabilities. In the United States, we've felt the crisis at the gas pump. The jump in oil prices has pinched a bit, perhaps worsened an already poor economic performance. But while we feel a pinch, some of our coalition partners are having the daylights squeezed out of them. For Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and others, sanctions are definitely a problem. The economic impact of the embargo has been severe to those countries, through loss of trade, remittances from overseas workers, et cetera.
* PAGE 10 PAGE 10 nxe511
It is true that oil-rich country states in the Gulf can help make up the shortfalls -- at least, they can to the governments by just transferring them some of the cash -- but that money is not likely to filter down to the man in the street who has lost his job because of the sanctions -- obvious and potential area for Saddam Hussein to cause mischief.
Second, there are the vagaries of international events. Will the Syrians and Egyptians, to say nothing of the British and the French and others, be willing to keep their troops there a year to 18 months, waiting for the sanctions to work? Or will they fall out over some issue having to do with Israel, or be diverted by another crisis that will require that they deploy their troops elsewhere?
And what of our new-found ally in the Middle East, the Soviet Union?
This is the paragraph that has been overtaken by events, but let me read it to you the way it was written a couple of days ago.
Only a short time ago, the behavior we are seeing on the part of Moscow would have been the stuff of hallucinations. This is another nearly miraculous turn of events we seem to be taking for granted. Suppose Mr. Gorbachev is replaced by somebody who does not have Mr. Shevardnadze as his foreign minister? Can we be sure that the successor government will continue to back our hand, or might it revert to a more traditional Soviet attitude towards Iraq?
Well, Mr. Shevardnadze is gone and Mr. Gorbachev is still there, but the question remains: Can we be sure that the Soviet government -- and it's now more pertinent with Mr. Shevardnadze gone -- can we be sure that the Soviet government will continue to back our hand, or might it revert to a more traditional Soviet attitude towards Iraq? I mean, this example of what happens in the last couple of days just shows that, over the year to 18 months that we would need to wait for sanctions to work, lots of things can happen to the coalition, lots of stuff we aren't even thinking about.
A third point is the clash of cultures. We're building towards an enormous presence in the desert state that is thinly populated, archly conservative Muslim monarchy. Islamic fundamentalists are already spreading the alarm about the overwhelming presence of Westerners in the land that holds the holiest places of Islam.
And the culture clash, of course, goes both ways, incidentally. In the United States, we already see the first evidence of resentment at the lengths we are going to to be mindful of Saudi sensibilities. Now, I'm not just talking about absence of beer or Playboy magazines. What
* PAGE 11 PAGE 11 nxe511 I'm talking about is reports that Christian and Jewish religious life for our men and women of Desert Shield is officially muted lest it offend our hosts. What of the fact such reports can only irritate an American public which believes that those same men and women may lose their lives to pull Saudi chestnuts out of the fire? The Saudi treatment of women is another issue with which we will have little sympathy. Finally -- finally -- and this is an important, I think, important point -- there is the momentum of choices that have already been made. Now, whether rightly or wrongly or whether the administration consulted with Congress or did not properly consult with Congress, the Bush administration has embarked on a course of action likely to bring this crisis to a head, and -- early in February -- and it has brought the military alliance along with it, all of these players along with it. The administration timeline runs to February and is there for everyone to see, including Saddam Hussein, including the UN, including our allies. For the administration's critics in Congress and elsewhere, an attempt to walk the administration back down from that timeline cannot be undertaken lightly.
First, there's the enormous problem of dealing with US troop strength of more than 400,000 in Saudi Arabia for an extended period of time. I don't believe that troops can sit in the desert for a year or more and maintain anything like their peak combat effectiveness. What this means is we would need a rotation policy of some kind, and at a high troop level. It would require ASPIN-12/21/90 partial mobilization of the reserves, substitution of units for one service by units of another service, and maybe developing some special units which do not exist in a large number to rotate -- a very, very tough problem.
But secondly, success at walking the administration back down its timeline could spell failure in the crisis. It would send a very dangerous mission to Saddam Hussein and probably to the world. The administration has brought the coalition along on its timeline. They have, in effect, decided that January 15th is as long as they want to wait to see if the sanctions work.
The United States, having once given the signal that we're heading for a showdown sometime in late winter, would have to calculate very, very carefully what it would cost to switch the US signals on that issue now.
I would argue that maintaining our credibility now is more important if we hope not to go to war, than it would be if we planned to blast Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. If we hope that some kind of sanctions, diplomacy, and threat of war will force him out of Kuwait, then that threat of war must be credible.
* PAGE 12 PAGE 12 nxe511 Even the sanctions experts, the ones who are most optimistic about how sanctions might work, all believe it is not just sanctions, but a combination of economic pressure with political, military, and psychological pressure.
Now, what constitutes a credible military threat, how we might prosecute a war, and the necessity of allied participation, are topics that I would like to deal with in some other speech. I'd also like to deal with the question of how Congress should fulfill its constitutional role in that other speech.
But in the meantime, this examination of sanctions and diplomacy leads to four -- leads me to four important conclusions. Conclusion number one: I believe that the interests we have at stake in the Persian Gulf are vital. If all else fails, they're worth going to war for.
Second, I come to the conclusion that relying on sanctions is not the answer. Technically, they are working superbly, really to an unprecedented degree. Whether they could be made to work politically is more problematical. Pain for the Iraqi people is not the same thing as pain for Saddam Hussein. Keeping up the requisite political, military, and psychological pressure is a major stumbling block. Can we keep the alliance together and focused? Especially, can we keep it focused long enough for the sanctions to work politically? I judge the probability of that to be very low.
Third conclusion: I judge the possibility of a diplomatic solution to be more promising. Some will not be happy with this conclusion, but I believe the test of a diplomatic solution is the extent of the compliance with the UN resolutions. A complete withdrawal by Saddam Hussein from Kuwait will be a victory, almost regardless of what else is agreed upon around the edges. A partial withdrawal, of course, is only a partial victory.
Final conclusion: We must mean what we say when we deal with the Saddam Husseins of the world. If the United States is to be credible in the post-Cold War world, if the United Nations is to be useful -- a useful vehicle for collective security, then we cannot shrink from the use of force. A future aggressor can ignore the UN's next -- (inaudible) -- if we ignore this one.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MR. HARRISON: Mr. Chairman, Les, I am struck by the extraordinarily comprehensive analysis that you have given us, not just that but the hearings that you have conducted, the way you've probed the issues, the white papers you've produced. We eagerly await your next act. I think the country is in your debt.
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REP. ASPIN: Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q: Can you do questions, Congressman?
REP. ASPIN: Okay. Questions. Okay, we can do questions for -- I don't know how long.
Q: Then it sounds like you're saying that war is not really the good solution, based on your conclusions.
REP. ASPIN: There are no good solutions. We haven't gone through the war option here, but that's got its downsides, too. Diplomacy has got its downsides, although, depending upon how -- as long as he pulled out of Kuwait, I would say that we ought to take the diplomatic deal. Waiting for sanctions has its downsides, and as I pointed out here, I would not adopt the policy -- advocate the policy of waiting for the sanctions to work. But the war has its problems, too.
Q: Have you adopted Mr. Heath, who spoke to you yesterday, his attitude that it's not worth it to go to war?
REP. ASPIN: No, I have not. I'd come to the opposite conclusion.
Q: What do you think should be US reaction to the nightmare?
REP. ASPIN: That is hard to say. I really think as a practical matter it takes war off the table as a tool. So what we're talking about there would be maybe some kind of continued sanctions. A lot would depend upon what our allies wanted to do, what they would want to -- what policy they wanted, would want to do. It's a tough one; it's a very tough one.
Q: On this last one --
REP. ASPIN: Certainly.
Q: -- if diplomacy is not going to work by late February - -
REP. ASPIN: Yeah.
Q: -- or by February, the United States, in order to be a credible force in the world, has got to go to war? REP. ASPIN: I think that the -- that the use of force -- that once you've embarked on this time line, I believe that we ought -- let me just say that I think that what we want to do at this point is to move towards the -- the use of
* PAGE 14 PAGE 14 nxe511 force -- put all the pressure together -- economic, political and military -- towards the early time line.
Q: Congressman, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US kept its embassy open in Kabul in spite of some congressional pressure to close it, arguing that it was necessary to keep it there to find out what was going on. But now they have closed their embassy in Kuwait. Are they not interested in finding out what's going on in Kuwait? Or what's the rationale?
REP. ASPIN: It's not clear to me though they argued that there was no more necessity to keep it open but -- and the pressure on the -- psychological and other pressure on the people that were there -- and, indeed, there are a number of problems with this, the US embassy -- was that there are a number of citizens who were at the US embassy who were not Foreign Service Officers but just US private citizens.
So, I can't tell you what the reason is that they closed it down. I know what they said but I can't give you the actual reasons. I'm sorry.
Q: Mr. Chairman, considering what you just said about moving towards war, what do you plan to do about helping the administration get a congressional resolution passed?
REP. ASPIN: Ah, let me just say that -- that -- stay tuned for the next speech here and the next follow-on. Okay? Because there's different ways in which we can do war. I mean, you know, there's not the war option. Okay? There's several war options.
Secondly, we -- that's part of the second program. Part of the program here is "What should Congress do?"
Q: Do you believe Congress ought to pass a resolution before the 15th?
REP. ASPIN: Stay tuned.
REP. ASPIN: Yes.
Q: Isn't this in some respects not the first post-Cold War crisis, but given all the cuts coming in the US defense establishment in the next three to four years, the last crisis in which the US would be able to put its stamp on as a leading country -- leading role?
REP. ASPIN: It's an interesting question. I guess we don't know. I mean, we will know when we look back in history where this thing fits in.
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But, the thing that makes it the first post-Cold War crisis is, first of all, that the Soviet Union is mainly preoccupied with internal problems, but the extent to which they are playing a role here, their cooperation. Now, that's a -- that's a -- surely a sign of a post-Cold War crisis. Secondly, is the issue of using the UN. Now, you know, what you are arguing is that maybe in the future we would use UN more and there would be more of an integrated or more allied participation or maybe even a UN command. Is that what --
Q: No. What I'm really trying to get at is a few years from now, we won't have those forces in Europe to send to the Persian Gulf for a follow-on deployment. We won't have anymore sealift, airlift capability than we have now, maybe less. We're not going to be able to do this again with the cuts in Europe --
REP. ASPIN: Well, not so quick. First of all, I think that you have to decide what the lessons that we learned from this, and that will -- certainly the Persian Gulf experience here will have repercussions on the defense budget not this year -- only this year, but for years to come. Secondly, I guess I would contend that it's hard to think of another country in the world that if we responded to it would require this level of response. I mean, I would say this is not a small deployment, it's not a major deployment -- it's something in between, it's on the larger size. But then again, I don't see any other million-man army out there with Soviet weapons, et cetera. In other words, this is unique in the sense that the size of the Iraqi army here is bigger than most.
Q: If the diplomatic option works and Iraq withdraws completely from Kuwait, what should be done about the nuclear capability of Iraq?
REP. ASPIN: I think as a practical matter, I mean, what requires -- and indeed, this would be true of sanctions, too. We do not deal with either -- either we pursue the diplomatic solution or the sanctions solution -- we would not have not done anything about Iraq's million-man army, the chemicals, the biologicals or the nuclear capability. Both cases will require some kind of a post-crisis program of sanctions, you know, some control on the technology, working that problem in a different way. And so, neither of them deal with that issue very well. You have to do something outside of the context of the crisis to deal with those. I would also contend that they do not therefore deal with the long-range threat to the oil problem either, that both sanctions and diplomacy are likely to leave Saddam Hussein with all of his power, maybe out of Kuwait, but with the clear ability to come back in, and this time
* PAGE 16 PAGE 16 nxe511 maybe not stop at the Kuwaiti border, but go all the way into Saudi Arabia.
So, both diplomacy and sanctions would leave some kind of way to deal with the oil also, which I think you've heard various testimony from people talking about some kind of a multi-national force, probably stationed in Kuwait, maybe it's UN, maybe it's Arabs, maybe we would have some part in it, but anyway that's all to be decided -- determined.
Q: Congressman, is there any sense that the -- your colleagues will come around to your view about the vulnerability of the coalition, especially given the Shevardnadze resignation?
REP. ASPIN: Mmmh, it's tough always to predict my colleagues. You know, as we always say, it's hard to judge what Congress -- where we are without them being in town. I mean, how do we know what we think until we hear what we say? (Laughter.) I don't think I can make predictions.
Q: Congressman, I just want to remind you that there is another million-man army -- that is of India -- which is primarily equipped with Soviet weapons -- they have nuclear weapons -- and missile programs. They have dismembered Pakistan with force of arms, invaded Sri Lanka, so what do you think, you don't discount that army, or what?
REP. ASPIN: No, I don't. That's another problem perhaps.
Q: Excuse me, Congressman. Don't you think a longer term after the deadline of the 15th of January to be involved in the Gulf crisis going to be more painful? Not only for the US but also for the Eastern Europe countries?
REP. ASPIN: Yes, yes.
Q: Regarding, you know, it's -- administration and everybody's focused on the Gulf crisis.
REP. ASPIN: Yeah, I -- but you know, this thing has already messed things up for the Eastern Europeans -- big time -- I mean it's already a mess. Because, the Eastern European countries were getting oil from Iraq at a cut-rate in exchange for previous deliveries of weapon systems. Now they're not only paying market price, but of course the
t price is way up. But that's true no matter you know, we can't go back and restore the status quo on that so that's true, no matter what. That's why I didn't add it to my list of why waiting for the sanctions to work is not a good idea, because I think that that's damaged no matter whether we finish it early or wait for the sanctions to work. It's already water over the dam.
* PAGE 17 PAGE 17 nxe511 Yes, sir?
Q: Do you envision a diminishing United States role as the only world superpower?
REP. ASPIN: That's why I think this is going to be important. Let me tell you, how this thing plays out -- this is going back to the very important -- why I think -- this crisis is important beyond just the crisis itself. Because I think there will be lessons learned from this which will govern our foreign policy for maybe decades to come; that people will either come out of this saying that we should and can work with the UN, or we shouldn't and we can't, because something will happen here, that will -- either there'll be a lesson that this attempt by Baker and Bush to work the issue internationally through the UN, we will either decide that that was a good idea and a success or we'll decide it was a bad idea, and we'll go back to the old ways of essentially ignoring the UN.
It's the same with the use of force. You know, this is a major -- this is going beyond Grenada and Panama, you know, we're talking now about a -- not a just a little police action, but a major use of force. Coming out of this, there will be some lesson and there will be a kind of lesson in the head that will come -- seep into our culture that either the use of force and the threat to use force is a good thing, it's a part of our policy, it's one of the -- or no, you know, we can't do that, that essentially it isn't.
I can't answer the question now. I don't think anybody can answer the question now. It depends on how this thing plays out, and it's very, very important how this thing plays out.
Way in the back? The Ambassador, our friend, star of stage and screen] (Laughter.)
AMB. AL-MASHAT: Well, I would like to pose the following question. It has to do with United States credibility, because you said, as I recall, that if we stay the course United States credibility would be enhanced.
It seems to me that you have skipped a vital issue that is on the one hand, the United States working to have all of these Security Council resolutions, but yet on the other hand for the Palestinian question, they have delayed for a few weeks the issuance of any resolution to protect the Palestinians. Now how do you see that the United States can be credible in world affairs by following those double- standards in conducting its policy?
REP. ASPIN: Okay I think first of all that clearly we have a need to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and I think that because of what Saddam Hussein did and because
* PAGE 18 PAGE 18 nxe511 Yassir Arafat supported the invasion by Iraq of Kuwait, it means you can't -- and Yassir Arafat tried to link the two and Saddam Hussein has tried to link the two. No chance. You can't even begin to deal with it now while the Iraq crisis is still underway.
But -- let me finish, let me finish, please. Let me finish. I believe that after this crisis is over, then clearly we ought to try to deal with the Iraqi -- I mean with the Israel-Arab-Palestinian crisis. So, if you are concerned about getting that moving, I would suggest that if you pull out of Kuwait, we can start on it a lot sooner than if you stay there. (Applause.)
AMB. AL-MASHAT: You are talking about politics; I'm talking about principles. I think what enhanced United States credibility is to follow one principle, yet you close your eyes for years even now when you -- when the United States in claiming that they are going for a new international world order and they are implementing --
REP. ASPIN: No, I would say that we agree on the principles, it's just that life being what it is, you can't deal with all principles at once. You know, there's only 24 hours in the day. But as soon as this -- you pull out of Kuwait. I mean, we have got lots of free time to work on that issue. So our principle will come into play as soon as we get off of dealing with the principle we're dealing with now, which is that big countries shouldn't invade little countries.
AMB. AL-MASHAT: Now, why do you think of linkage. They're a different event, and a different issue that is affecting the United Nation Security Council --
MR. HARRISON: Time. Time.
REP. ASPIN: Essentially, the United States government is very -- time constraints. You can't deal with a lot of crises at once, a lot of different things. Get out of Kuwait. We'll deal with the problem. If you really want to deal with the Palestinians and worry about the Palestinians, get out of Kuwait, then we'll deal with the Palestinians.
AMB. AL-MASHAT: We asked for --
REP. ASPIN: Yes, sir?
Q: Mr. Chairman, the Turkish government has requested NATO support for its borders with Iraq. What do you think about this request? How should it be dealt with? And second, would that be a possibility to bring the Germans in militarily, because Turkey really is NATO territory, there would be no constitutional constraints to bringing German military into Turkey?
* PAGE 19 PAGE 19 nxe511
REP. ASPIN: I don't know. That's too hard. Turkey may get involved in this thing, but I think that -- I don't think I would advocate it.
Q: Mr. Congressman, as you well know, Americans believe strongly in the rule of law, and also in human rights. Don't you think there's a strong possibility, as the hostages that have been released continue to give information -- don't you think there's a strong possibility that as the hostages who have been released continue to give information about the enormous, outrageous atrocities and brutalities that have been committed in Kuwait by the Iraqi military and the Iraqi government, that in fact there will be a public ground swell of opinion across the United States that this tyrant has brutalized an entire people, and so your colleagues in the Congress may well find themselves getting increased pressure pushing the Congress toward support of the war position that you have announced here? Is that a possibility?
REP. ASPIN: The answer is absolutely yes.
Q: If you -- if you say to the Iraqis, "Get out of Kuwait and we will take care of the Palestine problem," you're admitting a linkage obviously -- logically speaking. If you're not, why hasn't the United States dealt with this issue since 1948? Why not? And the second question, Congressman, is why isn't -- why isn't the United States -- why doesn't the United States take care of the issue of disarmament in the region -- on a regional basis? Why doesn't it care for the Israeli nuclear, chemical and biological, believing that as long as Israel has it, the Arabs will have to have it?
REP. ASPIN: Perhaps -- perhaps, we do the second at some point in the future. But let me say that this -- you know, this question of linkage. First of all, for the -- it -- for the Iraqi government to be making this linkage takes an awful lot of chutzpah. There is no evidence, no evidence at all that Saddam Hussein, when he invaded Kuwait, was thinking about the Palestinians. Zero] He was thinking about himself. He was thinking about revenues that he would get from invading Kuwait. He was thinking about his own economy. He was thinking about his own aggrandizement. There is no evidence that he was thinking about doing anything for the Palestinians by invading Kuwait. And indeed, he made life a lot more miserable for Palestinians -- emigres living in Kuwait and Iraq, etcetera, and other places.
So -- but it is possible -- and, indeed, I think the US government has already said -- that if Saddam Hussein pulls
* PAGE 20 PAGE 20 nxe511 out of Kuwait, we will turn our attention to things like a peace settlement with Israel and Palestine, etcetera. Not because of anything that Iraq has done, but because our allies in this coalition would like to do something about it. When we come out of this crisis, there are certain Arab countries that are going to be thought of as very good friends of the United States. And we're going to be very close to those -- and I would say Turkey, too -- besides, not just Arab countries.
But there are countries in the region which are going to come out -- and that -- this is going to be a defining event; at the end of this, there's going to be a list that people look on as good guys or bad guys; friends and not so friends and enemies. And because the friends want to do something about the Palestinian-Israeli issue, I would predict that it would happen; no deal, no understanding, but because we've worked together on the problems created by Saddam Hussein and now we would probably work together on other -- on other issues.
Yes, sir. Back at the -- (inaudible).
Q: Is it your view that force is inevitable and if not, why not?
REP. ASPIN: No. No. I mean, I think that the chance that Saddam Hussein will back out of this thing is -- is strong. In other words, that's why I use the term "forcing the event, bringing it to a head early" -- I don't say using the war option early -- what I think is that the administration's policy is to bring the thing to a head early. Now, when it gets to the head depends upon what Saddam Hussein does. If he backs out, then we've got peace; if he doesn't, we've got war. But the bringing it to the head is what matters; not -- you know, we don't know whether that means war or not.
And basically, what we're talking about is timelines. Do you bring it to a head now, meaning between now and February -- late winter -- or do we as have some advocated, wait for a year to 18 months for the sanctions to work? Which means we would bring it to a head if they didn't work, sometime a year to 18 months from now. That doesn't mean that there would be a war a year or 18 months from now if the sanctions didn't work. Again, you'd be bringing it to a head. For the reasons which I explained, I don't think it's a good policy to try and wait for a year to 18 months to bring it to a head.
Q: Congressman, -- (inaudible) -- about regional -- (inaudible)?
REP. ASPIN: I can't comment on that. That's another possibility. It's possible.
* PAGE 21 PAGE 21 nxe511 Yes, sir?
Q: Would you comment on the influence of a diplomatic solution of Shevardnadze's resignation?
REP. ASPIN: Good question -- good question.
You see, I think that without Shevardnadze there's likely to be a softer Soviet line here in support of US policy. I mean, from what I -- I mean, there's a lot better Soviet experts here than I am. But it seemed to me that Shevardnadze and Gorbachev were not automatically on the same wavelength here in the Persian Gulf, that the Shevardnadze was the one who was strongly backing the US hand.
And I thought it was unusual that Gorbachev sent Primakov in there to discuss it. I mean, there must have been some friction there. I mean, how do you send another envoy in there to do something that your foreign office ought to do? And Primakov, of course, is not even associated with the foreign office.
It had the -- it had the kind of view that -- you know -- it had the air of somehow -- what I read that is that somehow Gorbachev wasn't trusting his foreign office on this issue and wanted to send his own man in there to see - - check things out for himself -- maybe to see whether Saddam Hussein was as hard over or whatever.
So -- and clearly, Gorbachev came around to this UN resolution and the use of force very gradually. I mean, first he said it was unacceptable use of force -- you remember? And then he finally said it should be the last option, et cetera. Shevardnadze was much more up front on that.
Now, the question is, what brings about a solution, diplomatic solution, here? A Soviet that is completely backing the US hand, or a Soviet that may be as willing to broker here? See -- so I don't know. I mean, you may find a Soviet Union which is now less willing to back the US hand as completely as it was under Shevardnadze, and you may get someone in the foreign office there who's more wanting to broker the deal.
Now, I don't know whether that helps a diplomatic solution or not at this point. That's why I say it's a very good question.
Anyway, thank you all very much for coming this morning. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. HARRISON: Thank you.
* PAGE 22 PAGE 22 nxe511 NNNN
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Product Code: WF
Keywords: ASPIN, LES/Speaker; CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES; OPERATION DESERT SHIELD; IRAQ-US RELATIONS; DIPLOMATIC COMMUNICATIONS; UNITED NATIONS-SECURITY COUNCIL; SANCTIONS; MILITARY STRATEGY; SAUDI ARABIA-US RELATIONS;
Document Type: TRA
Thematic Codes: 1NE
Target Areas: NE
PDQ Text Link: 166452
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