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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 Secretary of Defense 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, Johns Hopkins
• Dr. Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings
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.
Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of
October 2, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding the series of hearings on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq. I would also like to join you in welcoming Dr. Cohen and Dr. O'Hanlon. Both of your insights on the subject of U.S. policy toward Iraq are greatly appreciated.
This committee has now held a series of hearings considering the policy options for dealing with Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program. I, like many members, began these hearings with some serious questions. I have asked these questions to the administration, to foreign policy experts, and to retired senior military officers. Yet I don't feel that many of the questions yet have satisfactory answers but I hope today's testimony will help in that regard.
At a basic level, if the goal of our efforts is Iraq's disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction, are there other credible alternatives short of invasion and regime change that can accomplish that goal? What are the implications of any U.S. decision to take military action against Iraq without the support of the United Nations and the
international community? Will the absence of international support undermine the broader global war on terrorism? And if military action is successful, what is the United States prepared to do in the long term to rebuild Iraq and make it more stable?
These are the questions I share with many of my colleagues. I thank the witnesses for bringing their expertise to help answer them. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
"War Against Saddam's Regime: Winnable but No Cakewalk"
October 2, 2002
Thank you Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, and other members of the Armed Services Committee for the opportunity to testify today on the critical issue of future U.S. policy towards Iraq, particularly its military dimensions. I will summarize my thoughts briefly in the first pages of my prepared statement and opening remarks, and include more detailed analysis in the following pages of my statement. Among the main subjects I examine in this testimony are postwar challenges after a possible invasion of Iraq, estimates of U.S. and Iraqi casualties during combat itself, and the military feasibility of overthrowing Saddam while continuing the war against al Qaeda.
I support the strategy laid out in the president's September 12 U.N. speech. By that strategy, Saddam is to be presented with a final, tough, multilateral ultimatum on the need to accept U.N. inspectors and disarm; only if he refuses the ultimatum or fails to comply with his disarmament obligations would war then be undertaken. The historical track record suggests strongly that such a policy of containment would protect American national security interests. However, it is a strategy that Congress needs to remind the administration to sustain, since both Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have appeared to question its basic conceptual underpinnings over the past two months, and since the administration's proposal for a Congressional resolution authorizing force did not reiterate the basic 9/12 approach. It is also a strategy that requires straight talk to the American people about what war against Iraq could be like. Much of the public debate of the last year has been driven by those who believe such a war would surely be easy. I believe such talk is not only unfortunate, but irresponsible, especially since much of it has been carried out by members of the quasi-official Defense Policy Board.
The broad themes of my remarks include the following:
There is no plausible way by which, militarily speaking, Iraqi forces can prevent the United States from quickly seizing control of the country away from Saddam
Hussein's Tikrit-based/Ba'ath Party regime. I That said, such an operation would surely require well over 100,000 U.S. troops and
probably twice that number or more, given the difficulties of fighting in cities and the desirability of intimidating and quickly overwhelming Iraqi forces so that their resistance is as limited as possible. Although such an operation would be demanding, and place strains on certain military capabilities such as special operations forces and intelligence assets, there is no military reason it cannot be done even as we continue operations against al Qaeda. If they fight hard, Iraqi Republican Guard forces in particular could make the military operation difficult and rather lethal, U.S. combat losses could exceed 1,000, and