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chemical or biological weapons, how will the UN feel when one day, when Iraq demonstrates it has a deliverable nuclear weapon? The risks will only grow worse. If we are deterred today, we could be deterred forever-and Iraq will have achieved its objective. Or will the world community be deterred until Iraq uses a weapon of mass destruction, and only then decide it is time to act.
But I would suggest that even if Saddam Hussein were to issue an order for the use chemical or biological weapons, that does not mean his orders would necessarily be carried out. Saddam Hussein might not have anything to lose, but those beneath him in the chain of command most certainly would have a great deal to lose – let there be no doubt. He has maintained power by instilling fear in his subordinates. If he is on the verge of losing power, he may also lose his ability to impose that fear-and, thus, the blind obedience of those around him. Wise Iraqis will not obey orders to use WMD.
If President Bush were to decide to take military action, the U.S. will execute his order and finish the job professionally-Saddam Hussein and his regime would be removed from power. Therefore, with that certain knowledge, those in the Iraqi military will need to think hard about whether it would be in their interest to follow his instructions to commit war crimes by using WMD-and then pay a severe price for that action. The United States will make clear at the outset that those who are not guilty of atrocities can play a role in the new Iraq. But if WMD is used all bets are off.
I believe many in the Iraqi Armed Forces despise Saddam Hussein, and want to see him go as much as the rest of the world does. Those who may not despise him, but decide they would prefer to survive, may desert and try to blend into the civilian population or escape the country. This is what happened in Panama, when it became clear that Noriega was certain to be on his way out. Some say that Saddam might succeed in provoking an Israeli response this time possibly a nuclear response-and that this would set the Middle East aflame.
We are concerned about the Iraqi regime attacking a number of its neighbors, and with good reason: Saddam Hussein has a history of doing so. Iraq has attacked Bahrain, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Iraq is a threat to its neighbors. We will consult with all of our allies and friends in the region on how to deal with this threat.
But the fact that they have blackmailed their neighbors makes the case for action stronger. If we do nothing, that blackmail will eventually become blackmail with weapons of mass destruction-with significantly new consequences for the world. Some have said the U.S. could get bogged down in a long-term military occupation, and want to know what the plan is for a post-Saddam Iraq?
That is a fair question. It is likely that international forces would have to be in Iraq for a period of time, to help a new transitional Iraqi government get on its feet and create conditions where the Iraqi people would be able to choose a new government and achieve self-determination. But that burden is a small one, when balanced against the risks of not acting. In Afghanistan, our approach was that Afghanistan belongs to the Afghans-we did not and do not aspire to own it or run it. The same would be true of Iraq. in Afghanistan, the U.S. and coalition countries helped create conditions so that the Afghan people could exercise their right of self-government. Throughout the Bonn process and the Loya Jirga process, a new president was chosen, a new cabinet sworn-in, and a transitional government, representative of the Afghan people, was established to lead the nation.
If the President were to make the decision to liberate Iraq, with coalition partners, it would help the Iraqi people establish a government that would be a single country, that did not threaten its neighbors, the United States, or the world with aggression and weapons of mass destruction, and that would respect the rights of its diverse population.
Iraq has an educated population that has been brutally and viciously repressed by Saddam Hussein's regime. He has kept power not by building loyalty, but by instilling fear-in his people, his military and the government bureaucracy. I suspect that there would be substantial defections once it became clear that Saddam Hussein was finished. Moreover, there are numerous free Iraqi leadersboth inside Iraq and abroad — who would play a role in establishing that new free Iraqi government. So there is no shortage of talent available to lead and rehabilitate a free Iraq. In terms of economic rehabilitation, Iraq has an advantage over Afghanistan. A free Iraq would be less dependent on international assistance, and could conceivably get back on its feet faster, because Iraq has a marketable commodity
Some have raised concerns that other countries elsewhere in the world might take advantage of the fact that the U.S. in tied up in Iraq, and use that as an opportunity to invade neighbors or cause other mischief.
There is certainly a risk that some countries might underestimate our capability to handle traq and stop their aggression at the same time. But let there be no doubt: we have that capability.
Last year, we fashioned a new defense strategy, which established that we will and do have the capability to near simultaneously:
• Defend the U.S. homeland; • Undertake a major regional conflict and win decisively-including occupying a
country and changing their regime; • If necessary, swiftly defeat another aggressor in another theater; and • Simultaneously conduct a number of lesser contingencies--such as Bosnia,
Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The United States can do the above, if called upon to do so.
Another argument is that acting without provocation by Iraq would violate international law.
That is untrue. The right to self-defense is a part of the UN Charter. Customary international law has long provided for the right of anticipatory self-defense--to stop an attack before it happens. In addition, he is in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Those concerned about the integrity of international law should focus on their attention his brazen defiance of the UN. Some ask: What has changed to warrant action now?
What has changed is our experience on September 11th. What has changed is our appreciation of our vulnerability-and the risks the U.S. faces from terrorist networks and terrorist states armed with weapons of mass destruction.
What has not changed is Saddam Hussein's drive to acquire these weapons. Every approach the UN has taken to stop Iraq's drive for WMD has failed. In 1998, after Iraq had again kicked out UN inspectors, President Clinton came to the Pentagon and said (quote):
"If (Saddam) fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some
At the time, the U.S. massed forces in the Persian Gulf, ready to strike. At the last minute, Iraq relented and allowed UN inspectors to return. But predictably, they
kicked them out again ten months later. They have not been allowed to return since. He has not only paid a price for that defiance, he has been rewarded for his defiance of the UN by increased trade from a large group of UN member nations.
If, in 1998, Saddam Hussein posed the grave threat that President Clinton correctly described, then he most certainly poses a vastly greater danger today, after four years without inspectors on the ground to challenge his WMD procurement and development efforts. To those who still ask-that is what has changed! Some have asked what are the incentives for Iraq to comply-is there is anything the Iraqi regime could do to forestall military action? Or is he finished either way?
Our objective is gaining Iraq's compliance. Our objective is an Iraq that does not menace its neighbors, does not pursue WMD, does not oppress its people or threaten the United States. The President set forth in his speech what an Iraqi regime that wanted peace would do. Everything we know about the character and record of the current Iraqi regime indicates that it is highly unlikely to do the things the President has said it must do. So long as Saddam Hussein is leading that country, to expect otherwise is, as the President put it, to "hope against the evidence." If Saddam Hussein is in a corner, it is because he has put himself there. One choice he has is to take his family and key leaders and seek asylum elsewhere. Surely one of the one hundred and eighty plus counties would take his regime - possibly Belarus.
Some ask does the U.S. needs UN support? The President has asked the UN Security Council to act because it is the UN Security Council that is being defied, disobeyed and made less relevant by the Iraqi regime's defiance. There have already been 16 UN resolutions, every one of which Saddam Hussein has ignored. There is no shortage of UN resolutions. What there is is a shortage of consequences for Saddam's ongoing defiance of those 16 UN resolutions. The President has made the case that it is dangerous for the United Nations to be made irrelevant by the Iraqi regime.
As the President put it in his address last week, “All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" But the President has also been clear that all options are on the table. The only option President Bush has ruled out is to do nothing.
Mr. Chairman, as the President has made clear, this is a critical moment-for our country and for the world. Our resolve is being put to the test. It is a test that, unfortunately, the world's free nations have failed before in recent history-with terrible consequences.
Long before the Second World War, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf indicating what he intended to do. But the hope was that maybe he would not do what he said. Between 35 and 60 million people died because of a series of fatal miscalculations. He might have been stopped early-at a minimal cost of lives-had the vast majority of the world's leaders not decided at the time that the risks of acting were greater than the risks of not acting.
Today, we must decide whether the risks of acting are greater than the risks of not acting. Saddam Hussein has made his intentions clear. He has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and his neighbors. He has demonstrated an intention to take the territory of his neighbors. He has launched ballistic missiles against U.S. allies and others in the region. He plays host to terrorist networks. He pays rewards to the families of suicide bombers in Israel -- like those who killed five Americans at the Hebrew University earlier this year. He is hostile to the United States, because we have denied him the ability he has sought to impose his will on his neighbors. He has said, in no uncertain terms, that he would use weapons of mass destruction against the United States. He has, at this moment, stockpiles chemical and biological weapons, and is pursuing nuclear weapons. If he demonstrates the capability to deliver them to our shores, the world would be changed. Our people would be at great risk. Our willingness to be engaged in the world, our willingness to project power to stop aggression, our ability to forge coalitions for multilateral action, could all be under question. And many lives could be lost.
We need to decide as a people how we feel about that. Do the risks of taking action to stop that threat outweigh these risks of living in the world we see? Or is the risk of doing nothing greater than the risk of acting? That is the question President Bush has posed to the Congress, to the American people and to the world community.
The question comes down to this: how will the history of this era be recorded?
"December 7, 1941: The Day the Admirals Slept Late"