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• General Wesley Clark, USA (ret.), is Managing Director,
Merchant Banking at the Stephens Group, Inc., and a former
Gentlemen, thank you both for agreeing to appear today. We look forward to your testimony.
But before we begin, I want to invite Mr. Skelton, the Ranking Democrat on the Committee, to offer any comments he might have.
Thank you Mr.Skelton.
Mr. Perle, the floor is yours.
Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of
September 26, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding the series of hearings on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq.
This is a critical time for us to be considering U.S. action against Iraq. President Bush has made clear to the Congress, the United Nations, and the American people his determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power and to neutralize the threat posed by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. I applaud his realization that the threat posed by Saddam is one that faces the United Nations as a whole. I think we all agree that Saddam is a despot who has violated the Security Council's resolutions for years.
But we here in Congress now face a serious responsibility—to craft a resolution that will empower the administration to disarm Iraq and bring that nation into compliance with the requirements of many UN resolutions. The hearing today can help us in this effort by helping us consider whether force is now the only option. I believe that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before we send American troops
into harm's way. Any resolution Congress passes must recognize that. So the question for our witnesses is, what can still be done before we must compel Iraq with the use of the American military? What is the threshold beyond which the United States can no longer wait for Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions or for U.N. action in the face of Iraqi defiance?
This, to me, is the fundamental question. But there are others that the Congress must ask and which the president must be able to answer
before force can be used. How will the United States ensure that we
continue to have international support for our efforts against al Qaeda, even if the administration seeks military action without Security Council approval? Do we have the forces, fiscal resources, munitions, and other military capabilities to wage both campaigns effectively? How do we minimize the risk of casualties from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or from sustained urban combat operations? As members of the Armed Services Committee, we all share the commitment to making sure that our troops can succeed on the battlefield at the lowest possible level of risk if we decide to put them in harm's way.
The president should be able to answer these questions before he uses force. Once he does, I have no doubt that American troops will succeed in disarming Iraq. But the question then becomes what happens
next? Like the proverbial dog chasing the car, what will we do when we
I am reminded of Carl von Clausewitz's maxim in On War: that in
strategy it is “imperative...not to take the first step without considering the last.” We must think through carefully and NOW—before we authorize military force—how the United States would manage Iraq after Saddam fell. Planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan took years before the end of World War II. In today's dynamic battlefield, we don't have the luxury of years to prepare. How can we build a stable and democratic Iraq that takes all major groups—Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd-into account? How will we handle members of the Baath party and those scientists and engineers that designed Iraq's WMD programs? What military commitment will be required from the United States at the time of our victory and in the years to come?
Any decision to act against Iraq must begin with answers to these questions about the strategy for achieving victory and long-term responsibilities that come with doing so. To my mind, any resolution authorizing the use of force must require these answers. I thank both witnesses for being with us today, for sharing their expertise and hopefully for providing answers to the questions I have outlined. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2002
I wish to thank you for including me in today's hearing. As we confront issues of war and peace, our country is strongest when the Congress and the executive branch act in concert. In all the talk of the need for a coalition to confront Saddam Hussein, the coalition that matters most is to be found here in Washington, at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The President, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld and British Prime Minister Blair have all spoken in recent days about the urgency of dealing with the threat posed to the American people, and others, by Saddam Hussein. In what may well be the most important speech of his presidency, President Bush has argued eloquently and persuasively to the United Nations in New York that Saddam's open defiance of the United Nations, and his scornful refusal to heed its many injunctions, is a challenge to the credibility of the U.N itself. And he has rightly asked the United Nations to approve a Security Council Resolution that would force Saddam to choose between full compliance with the many resolutions he has scorned and violated and action to remove his regime from power.
Saddam's, response-calculating, deceitful and disingenuous-moves only slightly in the direction of U.N. inspections of Iraqi territory-and not at all toward the disarmament that is what really matters. The statement issued in his name that he will accept inspections unconditionally is anything but unconditional: it is hedged as to the allowable types of inspection and the rules under which inspections would be conducted. As I understand it, Saddam is demanding an inspection regime in which advance notification is required and in which certain places are off limits to the inspectors, who would be limited in number, mobility and armament.
Even from a government whose cooperation we could count on, these conditions would be unacceptable. But from Saddam Hussein, who has gone to enormous lengths to conceal his weapons program from previous international inspectors and continues to lie about them now, the sort of inspection regime that Kofi Annan has negotiated with Saddam would be a farce.
What would a robust inspection regime look like? It would, at a minimum, include tens of thousand inspectors with Americans in key leadership and decision-making roles distributed throughout Iraq, possessing an independent capability to move anywhere from dispersed bases to any site in the country without prior notification or approval, the right to interview any Iraqi or Iraqi resident together with his family at safe locations outside Iraq, appropriate