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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Wolfowitz, to House Nat'l Security Committee, on Iraq Policy

Iraq News, SEPTEMBER 17, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .

  This is the 43rd day without weapons inspections in Iraq.
  The Jerusalem Post, Sept 16, conducted an on-line poll, asking, "After 
no UN weapons inspections for 40 days, do you think that the US has 
backed off from confronting Iraq?"  82% of respondents said yes, 18% no.
  Former Undersecretary of Defense in the Bush administration, Paul 
Wolfowitz, testified yesterday before the House National Security 
Committee.  Wolfowitz began by praising Scott Ritter, "a public servant 
of exceptional integrity and moral courage, one of those individuals who 
is not afraid to speak the truth.  As an intelligence officer in CENTCOM 
during the Gulf war, he refused to submit reports that would have 
substantiated claims made by senior officers in briefings, even though 
he was pressured to do so, because he knew those claims to be untrue." 
That would seem to be allusion to Ritter's challenge to those generals 
who claimed that the US had destroyed mobile SCUD launchers during the 
Gulf war, although there was no credible evidence to that effect.
   Wolfowitz also took on the administration for its attempts to smear 
and discredit Ritter, before turning to the issue of US policy on Iraq. 
Wolfowitz explained, "The administration is engaged in a game of 
pretending that everything is fine, that Saddam Hussein remains within a 
'strategic box' and if he tries to break out 'our response will be swift 
and strong.'  The fact is that it has now been 42 days since there have 
been any weapons inspections in Iraq and the swift and strong response 
that the Administration threatened at the time of the Kofi Annan 
agreement earlier this year is nowhere to be seen."
  Regarding America's Arab allies, Wolfowitz said, "Recently a senior 
official in a friendly Arab government complained to me that the United 
States attaches great store to symbolic votes by the Non-Aligned 
Movement on the 'no-fly zone' in Southern Iraq, while doing nothing at 
all to deal with the heart of the problem, which is Saddam Hussein 
himself. . . "  
  Wolfowitz then returned to US policy, "To pretend. . . . that the 
decision of the Security Council to suspend periodic review of the 
sanctions on Iraq constitutes a serious setback for Saddam Hussein, who 
now finds himself free to reconstitute his prohibited weapons 
capabilities without fear of intrusive inspections, simply exposes US 
policy to further contempt and ridicule.  The heart of the problem is 
that the United States is unable or unwilling to pursue a serious policy 
in Iraq, one that would aim at liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam's 
tyrannical grasp and free Iraq's neighbors from Saddam's murderous 
threats.  Such a policy, but only such a policy, would gain real support 
from our friends in the region. . . .
  "Administration officials continue to claim, as Assistant Secretary of 
State Martin Indyk did in testimony to the Senate last week, that the 
only alternative to maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council is 
to send US forces to Baghdad.  This is wrong.  As has been said 
repeatedly in letters and testimony to the President and the Congress by 
myself and other former defense officials, including two former 
Secretaries of Defense, and a former Director of Central Intelligence, 
the key lies not in marching US soldiers to Baghdad, but in helping the 
Iraqi people to liberate themselves from Saddam."
  Wolfowitz outlined a strategy for overthrowing Saddam, based on the 
demonstrated premise that the majority of the Iraqi population hates and 
despises the regime.  As Wolfowitz explained, "Saddam's main strength- 
his ability to control his people through extreme terror-is also his 
greatest weakness.  The overwhelming majority of his people, including 
some of his closest associates, would like to be free of his grasp if 
only they could safely do so."  
   According to the strategy proposed by Wolfowitz, the US would 
establish a safe, protected zone in Southern Iraq, comparable to that in 
Northern Iraq.  A provisional government of free Iraq, based in the 
US-protected zone, would organize and promulgate a political program for 
the future of Iraq.  It would control oil fields and export oil to 
finance the overthrow of the regime, while the territory it controlled 
would attract defecting army units, who would rally in opposition to 
Saddam--something they would do now, if an option, short of the 
suicidal, existed. 
   As Wolfowitz explained, "One Arab official in the Gulf told me that 
the effect inside Iraq of such a strategy would be 'devastating' to 
Saddam.  And Wolfowitz concluded, "If this Administration could muster 
the necessary strength of purpose, it would be possible to liberate 
ourselves, our friends and allies in the region, and the Iraqi people 
themselves, from the menace of Saddam Hussein."

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