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Gilman
Opening Statement
Prepared Statement

Hamilton
Opening Statement
-

Clement
Opening Statement
-

Leach
Opening Statement
-

Lantos
Opening Statement
-

Bereuter
Opening Statement
-

Fox
Opening Statement
-

Wolfowitz
Statement
Prepared Testimony

Haass
Statement
Prepared Testimony

Kay
Statement
Prepared Testimony

Cohen
Statement
Prepared Testimony

Appendix 1
(Rohrabacher)

Appendix 2
(Menendez)

Appendix 3
(Kay article)

Appendix 4
(Hamilton letter)

 

PREPARED TESTIMONY OF

PAUL WOLFOWITZ,
Former Ambassador to Indonesia,
and
Dean, Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies,
Johns Hopkins University

House International Relations Committee

February 25 , 1998

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before this distinguished committee on such an important subject as policy toward Iraq.

Although I share in the general sense of relief that the mission of the U.N. Secretary General has made it possible to avoid, for the time being, the necessity of U.S. military action against Iraq, I see no reason to rejoice about the outcome of the latest crisis with Iraq. Nor do I see any reason to be optimistic about the agreement that has been reached. In fact, the events of the last several weeks constitute a significant political victory for Saddam Hussein.

However, the course of military action that the Administration was preparing for would have been an even greater political defeat for the United States, accomplishing little or nothing at the cost of the lives of American pilots and Iraqi civilians and also at great political cost to our friends and allies in the region. What the United States needs to develop urgently is a long-term strategy so that we will not find ourselves in the same box again in a few months, forced to choose between an unsatisfactory diplomatic outcome or costly and ineffective military action. If we must act militarily in Iraq, it should be in support of a serious effort to help Iraqis to liberate their country from Saddam Hussein's tyrannical grasp. That is also the only way to rescue the region and the world from the threat that will continue to be posed by Saddam's unrelenting effort to acquire weapons of mass destruction and to exact vengeance for the defeat he suffered in the Persian Gulf War.

I would like to discuss three points in my testimony this morning:

1) Even a perfect agreement would have constituted a tremendous victory for Saddam Hussein and left the UNSCOM inspectors under an enormous handicap in their efforts to uncover his weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.

2) The agreement, or what we know of the agreement, leaves enormous question marks about whether UNSCOM will any longer be able to carry out its function of searching for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in any of the eight so-called Presidential Palaces or, for that matter, in any other locations that Saddam Hussein may at some later date decide.

3) If the agreement has not effectively gutted the inspection effort and if the inspectors are thus able to get lucky and get back on the trail of what they were about to discover when Saddam blocked inspections a few months ago, the United States must have military options that are better than the one that was available this time of bombing targets whose contents we have little knowledge about in the small hope that this might "substantially reduce" his weapons of mass destruction capability. What is needed is not the "major land campaign" that top Administration officials falsely suggest is the only effective way to remove Saddam from power. The real option is to support the many Iraqis who desperately want to overthrow this tyrant, but who have so far found the U.S. stinting and unreliable in the support we have provided them What is needed is not a "massive U S ground invasion" but political, economic and military support so that Iraqis can carry that fight themselves

THE LOSSES IN A RETURN TO THE STATUS QUO

First, it is important to recognize how much Saddam has gained even if the present agreement actually did commit him to allow the UNSCOM inspectors the "free, full, unfettered access to these sites, anywhere in the country" that President Clinton demanded in his speech to Pentagon personnel on February 17. Most of the reasons to be skeptical about this agreement can be found in the President's own speech.

As President Clinton said, an agreement with Saddam Hussein on this issue means nothing "Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on [the] solemn commitment" to submit to inspection of his suspect weapons programs. "Throughout [this] entire process," as the President said, "Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM."

It is also true, as the President said, that the UNSCOM inspectors have done a remarkable job of uncovering Iraq's secret programs despite all of this lying, concealing and obstruction. But there is one major difference now if the inspectors are able to go back to work unhindered in Iraq: this crisis has bought Saddam months of time to move whatever it may have been that U.N. inspectors were about to discover that forced Saddam finally to declare key sites off limits. As good as the inspectors are, it is not reasonable to think that they could get back any time soon to the point they were at when Saddam's obstruction began. It could take many months, or even years, particularly when much of the progress they have made in the last two years has been due, again as the President acknowledged, to the extraordinary revelations brought out by Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel when he defected in 1995. It is unlikely that we will ever get such a well-placed defector again.

Thus, even in the best of circumstances, Saddam Hussein has almost certainly bought himself a very long time before we will have to face the need to obstruct the U.N. Inspectors again, to continue the game of "cheat and retreat" as Les Aspin called it. Long before then, we can be sure, the pressure will build from Russia, France and others to lift the sanctions on Iraq on the grounds that the inspectors have found nothing. And once again President Clinton had it right in his February 17 speech when he said: "Already these sanctions have denied him $110 billion. Imagine how much stronger his armed forces would be today, how many more weapons of mass destruction operations he would have hidden around the country if he had been able to spend even a small fraction of that amount for a military rebuilding."

What has Saddam had to pay for this long breathing space and for the four-month defiance of the United Nations that produced it? Absolutely nothing. Even worse, he has been rewarded for it Rewarded by forcing the United States into a costly military build-up that has strained our relations with key allies in the region. Rewarded by the legitimacy of a meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations and a formal agreement with him (a dignity, we should be remember, would never have been accorded to Radovan Karadzic when he claimed to be the leader of Serbian Bosnia) Rewarded by an enormous outpouring of sympathy and support for him in many parts of the Arab world. Rewarded by appearing to have stood up to the United States and not paying any price for doing so.

Perhaps most seriously of all, Saddam has been rewarded by the repeated statements by top U.S. officials - not to mention those of other countries - that our goal is limited merely to getting the U.N. inspections restored. That is to say, or rather as President Clinton said, "Would the Iraqi people be better off if there were a change in leadership? I certainly think they would be. But that is not what the United Nations has authorized us to do; that is not what our immediate interest is about." Or, in the words of the Secretary of Defense: "What we are seeking to do is not to topple Saddam Hussein, not to destroy his country, but to do what the United nations has said in its declarations." Of course, these are not warm endorsements of Saddam Hussein's continuation in power. But they certainly go a long way to discourage opponents of his regime from thinking that we are seriously interested in removing Saddam.

POTENTIAL WEAKNESSES IN THIS AGREEMENT

There are also serious problems with the agreement itself. It does much more than simply provide for "diplomats" to accompany UNSCOM inspectors in visiting sensitive sites. In fact, Article 4 of the agreement says that inspection of those sites will be conducted not by UNSCOM but by a new Special Group, appointed by the Secretary General, in which members of UNSCOM will simply be members. Although the language is ambiguous, it suggests that the Executive Director of UNSCOM, Ambassador Richard Butler, who by all reports has done a magnificent job to date, would not be a member of this Special Group. The Special Group would have its own head, called a Commissioner, also appointed by the Secretary General.

If this means that Ambassador Butler has effectively been dismissed for the function of inspecting sensitive sites, and access to those sites is now to be negotiated by a Russian diplomat or someone else who is more sensitive to Saddam's claims of "sovereignty" than to the need to carry out effective inspections, then the damage to the inspection regime is truly fatal. If any confidence is to be placed in this agreement at all, it is vital that the Secretary General move very quickly to appoint Ambassador Butler as the Commissioner of the Special Group something which the agreement permits but does not require.

Even if the Executive Director of UNSCOM remains in charge of inspecting sensitive sites, there are other reasons for concern. The inclusion of "diplomats" in the teams may compromise security, a serious problem for UNSCOM in the best of circumstances. The promise by the Secretary General to bring the issue of lifting of sanctions to the attention of the Security Council, while seemingly vapid, could generate serious problems. Finally, there are serious concerns about the size and scope of the defined eight "Presidential Sites" that are supposed to be defined in the annex to the agreement, an annex which was still not available more than twenty-four hours after the agreement was announced.

THE NEED FOR BETTER MILITARY OPTIONS

It may be a long time, if ever, before the inspectors can get close to finding whatever it was that caused Saddam to start obstructing them last year. But if they do, we can be certain, he will block them again. President Clinton has said that in that case we must be prepared to take military action. If so, that military action needs to be something more effective than what was planned this time.

Although the Clinton Administration declared repeatedly that the air strikes they were planning would not be "pin-pricks" like the ones they administered in response to Saddam's attempted assassination of President Bush in 1993 or to his attack on our Iraqi opposition allies in 1996, simply making a bigger bang is no guarantee of serious results. There is simply no way that the U.S. Air Force can do from the air what the U.N. Inspectors must do from the ground. Over time it seemed that our objectives were steadily scaled back. As it began to dawn that bombing would probably not succeed in forcing the inspectors back in - indeed, it might well have the opposite effect - one heard less talk of that as a possible objective. But since we also couldn't hope to eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction with air power alone, we finally ended up with the objective of "substantially reducing" that threat. In the absence of inspectors, it would be impossible to know what we had actually destroyed. Perhaps the thinking was that the word substantially has enough flexibility in it to cover a range of outcomes. But as Secretary Cohen demonstrated with his bag of sugar, it would not take much left over to continue to pose a serious threat.

Thus, the U.S. would have been left trying to claim significant military success, with little evidence to back it up, while the evidence of death and destruction in Iraq would be real and readily demonstrated by Saddam. Risking American lives and the lives of innocent civilians is something that should be done only when there are serious goals to be accomplished by doing so. The proposed operation could meet that standard only with the greatest of difficulty. And it would have imposed serious costs on our allies in the Arab world.

Which brings us to the question asked by the elderly veteran in Columbus, Ohio: "If push comes to shove and Saddam will not back down, will not allow or keep his word, are we ready and willing to send the troops. . . and finish this job, or are we going to do it half-assed, the way we did before?"

Secretary Cohen's answer was "What we are seeking to do is not to topple Saddam Hussein, . . but to do what the United Nations has said in its declarations." At the same Town Meeting, Sandy Berger said that "The costs and risks of that course of action, in our judgment, are too high and not essential to achieving our strategic interests as a nation. . . It would require a major land campaign, and risk large losses of our soldiers."

Yet Secretary Cohen on other occasions, has said correctly, that this is not simply about U.N. declarations but about real threats to U.S. National Security. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated that we will cheat and try to build weapons of mass destruction as long as he remains in power. He demonstrated, by attempting to assassinate George Bush early in the term of a new American administration and by burning Kuwait's oil fields as his army left that country, that he is bent on serious vengeance against those who opposed him in the Gulf War. He has demonstrated not only in 1990 but also again in 1994 that he will pose a threat to Kuwait whenever thinks he has a chance. He has demonstrated countless times that he will conduct genocide and war crimes against his own people, including gassing them with chemical weapons, machine-gunning them in mass graves, and threatening them with starvation by diverting rivers. The one effective way to cope with the weapons of mass destruction problem, like all these other problems, is to help remove him from power.

As President Clinton has said, the issue of weapons of mass destruction is an issue that concerns the future of the twenty-first century. As Mr. Berger said in Columbus, it is an issue worth fighting for. Why is it worth fighting for ineffectively with air power and not worth fighting for effectively, if that means using ground forces? Instead of deciding what means it is willing to use, and then tailoring the goals to fit them, the Clinton Administration should decide what it takes to do the job and ask the country to support it.

However, the estimates that it would take a major invasion with U.S. ground forces seriously overestimates Saddam Hussein. As we did for too long in Bosnia, we are in danger of painting a brutal dictator and his army as mighty giants when; in fact they are military pygmies. There was some excuse for overestimating the capability of the "fourth largest army in the world" before the Gulf War, when all we had to go on was their performance against Iran in the 1980's. There is no reason to be doing so today, when their weaknesses were exposed in 1991, and when the Iraqi army of today is far weaker than the one that we faced then.

The notion that a large U.S. ground invasion would be needed is based on the belief, repealed often by U.S. government officials, that the Iraqi opposition is feckless. But that Iraqi opposition rose up in large numbers to fight against Saddam Hussein in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War. That Iraqi opposition, with some help from the U.S. Operation Provide Comfort, kept the northern third of Iraq out of Saddam's control for more than five years, and even today, despite the serious division between the two major Kurdish factions, Saddam's writ is weak in Northern Iraq.

Alas, it is U.S. support for the Iraqi opposition, more than that opposition itself, which has been feckless. I am sorry to say that the single best opportunity to support the Iraqi opposition was during the Bush Administration, when Saddam Hussein to use his armed helicopters to slaughter the rebel forces, while American fighter planes flew over head, with their pilots not allowed to shoot at Saddam's gunships. But, where the Clinton Administration came to office promising to do more, they in fact have done less. We have preferred to support coup attempts in Baghdad, which are almost certain to be penetrated and to fail, than to provide open support to the democratic opposition. Ultimately, when the Iraqi opposition was fighting for its life in the North when Saddam attacked Irbil in 1996, the United States made a few meaningless missile strikes against radars in the South, proclaiming the North to be of no strategic importance and abandoning the people whom we had promised to support.

But Saddam is not ten feet tall. The brutality that makes him so feared by his people also makes him hated. And his army is badly weakened by its defeat in the Gulf War and by the effect of years of sanctions. When President Bush did decide to do something to stop Saddam's repression of his people, by launching Operation Provide Comfort in April of 1991, it took only a small, lightly armed American force and ill-equipped Kurdish guerillas, backed up by the threat of American air power, to drive the Iraqi army out of the northern third of the country. When the opposition proposed an attack on Iraqi forces in the North in 1995, the United States warned them not to and said we would not support them. As a result, the larger of the two Kurdish factions pulled out but the operation nevertheless succeeded in capturing several large Iraqi army units with minimal fighting.

Just a few days ago, Daniel Williams reported in the Washington Post from Amman, in an article titled "Saddam May Be Weaker Than He Seems," that:

"Diplomats, Jordanian officials and travelers say that the south is dangerous territory for Saddam Hussein's army and police. 'By day, things seem calm enough, but at night the police and soldiers retreat into their shelters. They are not safe,' said a recent arrival from Iraq. 'There is lots of hit-and-run activity on Saddam's security forces. The nighttime belongs to them,' a Western diplomat added."

What saves Saddam from massive uprisings in this situation, a former Iraqi military official exiled in Jordan told Williams, is that "no one wants to be burned twice." If the United States wants the opposition to Saddam Hussein to be less feckless, then it must be less feckless in its support. This does not mean that we can guarantee their success. But there are certain minimum things that we must do. We cannot pretend to support a serious resistance movement when we have yet to give them a single rifle, much less anti-tank weapons. We cannot plan to sit by while helicopter gunships slaughter them without interference.

What the U.S. needs to do to support effective resistance to Saddam Hussein is not a large ground invasion, but rather a series of political, economic and military measures that can help the Iraqi people liberate themselves:

Political: We need to challenge Saddam Hussein's claims to be the legitimate ruler of Iraq. This will be much harder to do in the wake of the agreement that he has just signed with the Secretary General. But it is important, nevertheless, to press to indict him as a war criminal and to challenge his claim to represent Iraq in the United Nations.

We should also indicate our willingness to recognize a provisional government of free Iraq, and the best place to start is with the current organization and principles of the Iraqi National Congress, the only organization that has to date set forth a set of principles on which a post-Saddam representative government could be built.

The United States can expect to be isolated at first in pushing these positions, but it is important to do so because they are not merely symbolic steps. They have real practical consequences, both political and economic.

Economic: One of the consequences of creating a mechanism to recognize a provisional government for Iraq is that it would open a way to make the frozen assets of Iraq, reportedly in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion just in the U.S. and U.K. alone, available to support the resistance.

Another important measure will be to lift economic sanctions from regions in Iraq that are wrested from Saddam's control. It is inexcusable that sanctions have been kept in place all this time on Northern Iraq, even when it was liberated territory. This squeezed the people in the North between a U.N. embargo from the north and Saddam's embargo from the south, thus exacerbating tensions among the Kurds.

Ultimately, the most important economic measure will be to make provision for the oil resources of liberated areas to be made available to support the resistance to Saddam Hussein.

Military: Serious military support is also needed from the United States, but not the large land invasion that is thrown up regularly as a straw man. What is needed most of all is weapons and logistics support. Anti-tank weapons, in particular, could have a powerful equalizing effect, just as anti-air weapons did in Afghanistan. It is difficult to understand how U.S. Officials can claim that we have tried supporting the opposition, when we have never tried to arm them.

We should also be prepared to provide air cover for liberated areas within the southern and northern no-fly zones. This is of critical importance, not only to provide a base from which the resistance to Saddam can operate, but also to provide a secure zone to which units of his own army that wish to change sides can go. Saddam is now so unpopular with his own regular army and even with many parts of his Republican Guards that if a secure and honorable path can be opened for his army to leave, major units are likely to do so or to desert without a fight. This presents a very different scenario than the imagined "major land invasion" with U.S. troops marching on Baghdad against a fiercely resisting Iraqi army.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Chairman, it seems clear that the United States is going to have to live with this agreement. While we can work to clarify certain important details - particularly those that bear on the continued ability of UNSCOM to do its remarkable work. But no new agreement with Saddam Hussein is going to fundamentally alter the threat that Saddam poses to his people, his neighbors and the world, whether from weapons of mass destruction or conventional weapons or from terrorism. Despite the eagerness of some for a quick test of the new agreement, we can't really know whether this new inspection regime is working for a long time (although we might learn sooner that it is not working). Despite the eagerness of some for quick military action if the inspectors are obstructed now, we should not be in a hurry to take military action as pointless as what we were just now planning to do.

What we should be doing now is preparing for the time when we face another crisis with Saddam Hussein or another opportunity to act to help the Iraqi people liberate themselves. That is something that we should start doing now. It seems to be something the Administration will not do unless Congress forces them to. For that purpose, I would urge the Congress to:

- Urge the United States government to recognize, and assist in all practicable ways, a provisional government of free Iraq representing all the people of Iraq and committed to reconciliation within Iraq and to living at peace with its neighbors.

- Appropriate $100 for the purpose of assisting the provisional government. The administration should work to recover these funds from blocked Iraqi assets now held by the U.S. treasury.

- Press for the United States to seek an indictment of Saddam Hussein for war crimes and crimes against humanity in an appropriate international tribunal.

Saddam is in a position of great weakness today. But the weakness will only become apparent if he is pushed. If we exaggerate his strength and thus encourage the defeatist mentality that seems to affect Administration strategy today, we will help him buy time for a later confrontation when he will be much stronger and the costs in blood and lives will be much higher. As the veteran said in Columbus:

"Are we going to do it half-assed? And then men at that time to (sic) come back and ask my grandson and some of these other grandsons to put their lives on the line, if we're going to do it half-assed, the way we did before."

 


 

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