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(RETIRED) WESLEY K. CLARK
U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
September 23, 2002
GEN. CLARK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Allard, distinguished members of the committee. I'm very happy to have this opportunity to testify here, and I would like to associate myself with remarks made by General Shalikashvili.
As NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe in 1998, we saw the beginning of a fourth war taking form in the Balkans. It was the repression to be waged by Slobodan Milosevic against his own people.
We knew that if we allowed this to go unchecked and unchallenged, that it would create a threat to regional stability, it would undercut the progress we had made in settling the war in Bosnia, and it was liable to ignite new conflicts elsewhere.
And so we attempted to use diplomacy with Milosevic, as we had over a number of years previously. But we recognized that with Milosevic, there was something more than was needed. It was leverage. And so we began to use diplomacy backed by force.
First there was the discussion of a threat. Then there was the issuance of a threat. After the threat was issued, Milosevic blinked, but his generals came back and said: The West, NATO, perhaps the United States really doesn't have the stomach for this, and anyway, we can defeat American air power because our friends have told us how to do this.
And so after the failures at Rombouillet, we eventually did turn to the use of force. The use of force was successful. But what we found was that the combination of international law, diplomacy and American and NATO air power gave us strategically decisive results without, in the end, ultimately having to use overwhelming military force. This was modern war.
Saddam Hussein does constitute a danger. He's calculating; he's stubborn. We watched him from Europe. I watched him when I was working on the Joint Staff. In 1994 he brought his forces back to re- invade Kuwait. We blocked that. In 1997, 1998, he resisted the actions of the U.N. arms inspectors. The United States was unable to muster the kind of majority and weight of opinion in the United Nations to change the equation on the ground in Iraq. Saddam Hussein has a irrational streak in addition to his cunning and stubbornness. And he is not, probably, ultimately deterrable -- not with confidence.
The embargo that's left against him is crumbling step by step. We watched it. It served well -- as well as could've been expected during that period. But it is ultimately crumbling. And so it's easy to see that after 9/11 there is much greater concern about Saddam Hussein and a desire to bring to a conclusion his violation of the U.N. security resolutions and the international law which he himself accepted -- that -- namely, to give up his weapons of mass destruction.
I think that the move toward the United Nations is the appropriate step. I think the president's strong statement and the statements of members of the administration have provided the leverage on which we should be able to build a coalition and possibly even achieve a new resolution in the United Nations. I think we're proceeding in a path of diplomacy backed by force. I think it is the appropriate path.
But as we move ahead, I think we have to be very conscious of the risks as well as the opportunities that are presented at this point. So I think we need to be certain that we really are working through the United Nations in an effort to strengthen that institution in this process and not simply to check a block. I think we have to do everything we can to build the largest possible, strongest possible coalition. While we ultimately might have to go with only a few, it will be much better and much more effective if we have a much broader and stronger coalition.
I think we need to be assured that we have done everything we can do for what happens after our military success before we begin that military operation. And that means planning for post-conflict Iraq and all of the ramifications of that, including the humanitarian assistance, the government, the economic development, and so forth.
And then, with a military plan in hand, with allies, with the unified support, if there is no other recourse, then we would use force as a last resort, ideally with the full blessing of the United Nations; ideally in conjunction with a large coalition. But we will have done everything we can at that point to solve this problem in the way that's most conducive to the world that we want to live in. And so I think it's not only the ultimate action that's important here, it's how we get to that action.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, General Clark.
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