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U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, October 2, 2002. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Curt Weldon.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CURT WELDON, A
REPRESENTATIVE FROM PENNSYLVANIA Mr. WELDON (presiding]. The hearing will come to order. Today the Committee on Armed Services continues its review of United States policy toward Iraq.
This morning's hearing marks the fifth in a number of planned public sessions designed to educate and inform the committee and the American people on the various issues surrounding Iraq's continued violation of numerous United Nations resolutions, its illicit development of weapons of mass destruction, and the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the United States, the Middle East, and the international community.
The committee has received a series of classified briefings from the intelligence community on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and conventional military capabilities. We also have heard from former United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart United Nations (U.N.) inspections.
The committee also received testimony from an Iraqi defector who was a key player in Saddam's nuclear weapons program. He told us how the Iraqis built and sustained their weapons of mass destruction programs through the acquisition of sensitive Western technology, including items from U.S. firms.
In separate hearings the committee also discussed U.S. policy toward Iraq, with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, several retired U.S. generals and two distinguished foreign and defense policy experts. Today, however, we will hear from two individuals who are foreign and defense policy experts in their own right, have published widely, and are well known for their policy ideas and insights: Dr. Eliot Cohen, professor and Director of Strategic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Gentlemen, thank you both for agreeing to appear today. We look forward again to your testimony.
And before we begin, I wanted to give Mr. Skelton, the Ranking Democrat on the committee, the opportunity to make any com
ments he may have, and then I have a special introduction before we actually begin the hearing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Weldon can be found in the Appendix on page 385.) STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE
FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. And I take this opportunity to welcome old friends, Dr. Cohen and Dr. O'Hanlon, with us today. I ask that my prepared statement be put into the record.
Congress is facing a constitutional duty sometime within the very near future, and as we speak, a series or a proposed resolution upon which a debate will follow is being glued together.
You and your testimony can be very, very helpful to us in taking us through whole steps that should come to pass rather than our country taking off on a horse and riding off into the sunset. The United Nations has a specific role. It is basically the creature of the United States of America. The Constitution gives us a specific role when it comes to conflicts and wars, and consequently, your testimony will be very helpful to us. And a special thanks for your being with us today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be found in the Appendix on page 388.]
Mr. WELDON. I thank my friend and colleague for his statement and for his ongoing leadership in providing a balanced approach to the issues involving the President's request for support for Iraq.
At this point in time, before our hearing begins, I have the very distinct pleasure and honor to introduce a longtime friend of mine. In fact, I hosted him several years ago for one week in Pennsylvania. He is the current chairman of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee. Mikhael Margelov from Russia is here. So he is the equivalent of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He started out as an advisor to both President Yeltsin and President Putin. He had his own company in terms of political consulting in Russia when I first met him at Columbia University at a conference three or four years ago. We have been together at a number of conferences, and we met this morning to talk about Russia's interest and concerns about Iraq.
Mikhael, would you like to just say a few words to the Members of Congress here? I mean, I did not ask you to appear as a witness. Perhaps I should have done that, and perhaps you would have accepted. But if you would just like to stand up and say a few words, we have to break in five minutes. But I think my colleagues might be interested in having-in getting a chance to know you.
He is a good friend and a close advisor, I might add, to President Putin.
Mr. Skelton, do you have an objection to that?
Mr. WELDON. Without objection. Special witness before the House Armed Services Committee, the Chairman of the we can
never get our Senators over here, Mikhael, so we have to go over to Russia to get a Russian Chairman of the Senate Committee to come over and testify.
STATEMENT OF MIKHAEL MARGELOV, CHAIRMAN, INTER
NATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL
Mr. MARGELOV. Well, first of all, thank you, Curt, for such generous introduction. It is a great honor for me to be invited for such hearings. Actually I also was invited tomorrow for the hearings at the International Affairs Committee of the House, which are called Russia and the Axis of Evil, and unfortunately I got to know this morning that these hearings are postponed. So I would like to take this advantage to address you, dear colleagues, and say that I think that such a practice of Russian parliamentarians taking part in the hearings here in the U.S., and American parliamentarians taking part in hearings in Russia is quite unique, and I think we have to continue with such practice.
We agreed with Senator Trent Lott on Monday that in the beginning of the year 2003, a senatorial delegation will come to the Council Federation to Moscow to take part in the hearings on Russian-American relations there. So I think that we have to continue such a practice.
Thank you very much.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mikhael. I know that our committee would welcome any comments in writing that you would have on our current discussion about the Iraqi situation and relative to your country's concerns as you outlined to me this morning, about the oil interests that you have in Iraq, the financial obligation that Iraq has to you as a nation, and so I would invite you to provide that information in writing on the record for us to be a part of the proceedings.
Mr. WELDON. With that, I want to thank you for stopping by. And we will now turn to our witnesses.
We do have to break for a series of votes. Would you like to begin now and go as far as we can, and then we have to break for one 15-minute vote and two 5-minute votes?
So, Dr. Cohen, what is your choice?
Dr. COHEN. How long would we have before the vote would begin?
Mr. WELDON. I would say probably ten minutes before probably eight minutes before we have to leave to go over and vote. Dr. COHEN. If you would like.
Mr. WELDON. The floor is yours. Your statement will be entered as a part of the record. You are free to make whatever comments you would like to make.
STATEMENT OF DR. ELIOT A. COHEN, PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC STUDIES, THE SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Dr. COHEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for inviting me to testify today before you on the question of American policy toward Iraq.
Let me summarize my argument briefly. It is that the choice before the United States is a stark one, either to acquiesce in a situation in which the regime of Saddam Hussein can restore his economy, acquire weapons of mass destruction and pose a lethal threat to his neighbors and to us, or we take action to overthrow him.
In my view, the latter course with all of its risks is the correct one. Indeed, the dangers of failing to act in the near future are unacceptable. To that end, Congress should authorize the President to initiate large-scale military action against Iraq and give him the widest possible latitude in acting, even in the absence of additional U.N. authorization to do so.
Let me describe the nature of our conflict with Iraq, outline what I think are the two strategic choices that we have, and briefly consider the implication of that choice. A famous saying has it that war is a continuation of policy by other means. In the case of Saddam Hussein, however, policy is a continuation of war by other means. Saddam Hussein has waged war against the United States and the community of civilized states since 1991. After the successful conclusion of ground and air operations in February of that year, most Americans thought the war had ended. We cleaned up the equipment, we brought back most of the troops, we held victory parades, and we congratulated ourselves.
The government believed, as did many observers, that Saddam would surely fall, and at worst, U.N. inspections would finish the job that bombing had begun. The United States would be able to neuter the regime, even if it didn't destroy it. How wrong we were.
Under the eyes of Americans soldiers, Saddam's soldiers massacred Iraqi citizens hoping for liberation. The U.N. inspections, backed as they were by American and foreign intelligence, and imposed upon an Iraq that was still reeling from a battlefield debacle, uncovered some dismaying facts: that the Iraqi nuclear program, for example, is far more extensive and more advanced than we have known, and that most of it had escaped destruction.
We learned, too, that Iraqi research on and production of chemical and biological weapons were well in advance of anything that we had suspected before the war. Unlike the case of nuclear weapons, furthermore, even the very competent and, I would add, brave professionals working for the United Nation's Special Commission on Iraq, UNSCOM, could not stay ahead of a very cunning opponent who intended to retain these weapons at all costs. Indeed, by 1999, we were outmaneuvered by the Iraqis who had negotiated the replacement of UNSCOM by the United Nation's Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which is a far weaker organization, working at arm's length from the United States and her allies, and UNMOVIC has been a dead letter until recently.
To these undisputed facts, add the Iraqi attempt on the life of the first President Bush, Iraq's sponsorship of suicide bombing in Israel, its ceaseless torrent of hatred and incitement directed against Americans and the United States, its hosting of terrorists to include the late unlamented Abu Nidal, and its relationship with al Qaeda.
Let us remember above all that on a daily basis the Iraqi military does its best to kill American and British pilots maintaining
the southern and northern no-fly zones put in place with U.N. support. If repeated and brazen attempts to shoot down American aircraft and kill American pilots are not acts of war, I don't know what is. If we have escaped without loss, it is a tribute to our skill and his bad luck.
The United States then has been at war with Iraq since 1991. Only the level of violence has changed, not the substance of the relationship or the intentions of the Iraqi regime. Since the middle of the 1990s, moreover, Iraq has been winning the war. It has done so despite the best efforts of American diplomats and soldiers to include short campaigns such as Desert Fox in 1998.
Iraq has violated Security Council resolutions and injunctions with impunity. It has dismantled the U.N. inspections regime, which was only partly effective at the best of times. It has slipped out from under sanctions as well. Today Iraq produces something like 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, up from a postwar low of 300,000 barrel a day, and not far short of its pre-1991 production rates. The stark facts are that inspections
are dead, and sanctions are dead, and they cannot be resurrected. There are too many countries that will assist Saddam in preventing us from really bringing them back to life. They have many motives: greed, desire to curry favor with Bagdad, anxiety about domestic opinion, a principled horror of war, a desire to take the United States down a peg or two, fear of the precedent set by the overthrow of this kind of regime or the consequences that would flow from it.
The international argument about inspections is, therefore, a sham, a mask for other concerns and intentions. There can be no question of Iraqi's good faith. It does not exist. Everything, everything that a decade's worth of experience can teach us is that we have only two choices, deterrence of the regime or its overthrow.
Is Saddam Hussein in the long run deterrable? He has twice launched ruinous, unprovoked wars of aggression against his neighbors. He has attempted to assassinate a former American President. He has evinced an unshakable determination to acquire the most lethal weapons devised by man. He has shown a willingness to use them, on civilians first and foremost, beginning with his countrymen.
He is a man who swam to power in a pool of blood and has exercised power not merely with brutality, but with a sadism that is notable even by the standards of the last century. His daily discourse is that of slaughter, and his deeds match his words.
An argument in favor of deterrence is a declaration of faith in the rationality of Saddam Hussein. It is an argument that he will not fulfill his repeated specific and bloody threats directed against us, his neighbors in Israel. It is an assertion that he will refrain from the use of biological weapons that have no return address. It is a contention that he understands power, justice, prestige, and above all revenge, more or less as we do. It is a belief that is contradicted by his career, which is one of ferocity, miscalculation and destruction. That leaves us the choice of war, as problematic as that may be.
What are our prospects in such a case?