Wolfowitz, to House Nat'l Security Committee, on Iraq Policy
Iraq News, SEPTEMBER 17, 1998By 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 .
I. PAUL WOLFOWITZ, STATEMENT TO HOUSE NAT'L SECURITY COMMITTEE, SEPT 16 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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