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I mean, we just don't know what may happen. The one question I wanted to ask from your written statement. You have—there has been a lot of effort put in on the resolution and the language. You state this one sentence; the resolution need not, at this point, authorize the use of force, but simply agree on the intent to authorize the use of force if other measures fail. And this, to me, is a key question because, you know, I want our President to feel like he has got all the support of the American people he needs to work this out dealing with the international community. But, I am not, I don't think, willing to vote at this time to say, and here you have got my card to go to war six months, eight months down the line if in your mind it hasn't worked out well. I think that is a decision the American people want the Congress to make. What do you mean by that language?
General CLARK. I think that what you have to do is—first, the card has been laid on the table about the intent of the United States to take unilateral action. So, we have moved past the point we were at in mid-August, when there was a discussion and the President was saying he hadn't made up his mind what to do, and so forth. So the President, our commander-in-chief, has committed himself. I think it is wise to narrow the resolution that was submitted. I think it will be more effective and more useful, and I think it is more in keeping with the checks and balances that are the hallmark of the American government if that resolution is narrowed.
And on the other hand, I think you have to narrow it in such a way that you don't remove the resort to force as a last option consideration in this case. So, not giving a blank check, but expressing an intent to sign the check when all other alternatives are exhausted.
I think, in dealing with men like Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, that diplomacy has to be leveraged by discussions, the threat, or in the last instance, the use of force. I think it is not time yet to use force against Iraq, but it is certainly time to put that card on the table, to turn it face up and to wave it. And the President is doing that, and I think that the United States Congress has to indicate after due consideration and consulting our people and building our resolve, that yes, this is a significant security problem for the United States of America, and all options are on the table, including the use of force as necessary to solve this problem. I think that is what is required to leverage any hope of solving this problem short of war.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you both.
Mr. SCHROCK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Obviously, General, your-time-is-on-our-side comment has certainly generated a lot of interest
Mr. HUNTER. And I might mention, Mr. Schrock, we are going to try to keep this hearing going because General Clark has to leave at what time General 11:30?
General CLARK. 11:30. 20 to 12. It is really hard to get out of here, Mr. Chairman. This is a very interesting hearing.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Perle says it is hard to get in. Okay. Go ahead, Mr. Schrock.
Mr. SCHROCK. To my knowledge you are the first person I have heard in the hearings that I have attended that says that time is on our side. But, then I heard you say a little bit later the clock is ticking, which means less and less time is on our side as we go along. And, I am still trying to understand what elements in this situation would indicate that time-is-on-our-side, and of course, I would like to hear Mr. Perle's comment on it, as well.
And, a second subject is what should we do if the regime suddenly collapses. You know, what should the scenario include. In any good military plan you have an exit-in and an exit-out. And, the exit-out is probably more important than the exit-in, because we probably know what the exit in is going to be. I, too, am concerned that the absence of intelligence created a situation last year that nobody ever thought would occur. And, I worry about the inspections. I just don't understand how new inspections would be any different than the past ones we have had.
He has deceived us all along, and I think he has had several years to develop capabilities of putting things underground or putting them on wheels and moving them around so he could do whatever he wanted. And, if inspections will not work, then, are we it is less time on our side that we could have been taking action on against this guy. And I agree with you, deterrence not domination. I don't want that. And, use force as a last resort. Where is that drop dead date or time certain when this occurs.
I am just baffled by a lot of that. I threw a lot at you. I don't know if you can sort through that.
General CLARK. Well, if I could answer and talk about why time is on our side in the near-term. First, because we have the preponderance of force in this region. There is no question what the outcome of a conflict would be. Saddam Hussein, so far as we know, does not have nuclear weapons. Even if there was a catastrophic breakdown in the sanctions regime and somehow he got nuclear materials right now, he wouldn't have nuclear weapons in any sizable quantity for, at best a year, maybe two years. Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He has had those for a long time. But, the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11 of 2001. So people are alert here.
Our homeland security is certainly not perfect, but we have, I think, taken some very significant steps. We are much more observant than we had been before. So, we have the time to build up the force, work the diplomacy, achieve the leverage before he can come up with any military alternative that is significant enough ultimately to block us. And so that is why I say time is on our side in the near-term. In the long-term, no. But, we don't know what the long-term is. Maybe it is five years, maybe it is four years, maybe it is eight years, we don't know. We know the situation can't be permitted.
And beyond that, we don't want to live in a world where the United Nations is increasingly enfeebled. This is an important opportunity that the President has seized to strengthen the United Nations but to strengthen it we have got to have the patience to
work with it, and we have got to twist some arms and bend some elbows and do all the kinds of things in international politics that, I guess, domestic political leaders do in their home constituencies and in their races.
I mean, this is about leadership. It is not just about a threat. So, that is why I say time is on our side. Your second question was about the exit strategy. And, what I try to portray is if you are going to have an exit strategy and you are going to have a turnover, you have to anticipate some of the worst things that might happen. You hope they won't happen and they may not.
It may be, just as Richard Perle has suggested, it may be a laydown. This thing may turn out they do have an educated population. They are one of the most Western-oriented countries in the region. There has also been a lot of psychological trauma inflicted on them. So, you don't know. But, you have to prepare for the worst. I hope that we are starting to do that in a very, very serious way.
But, there are a number of steps that have to be taken first, like engaging international organizations in the U.N., and trying to build a framework, because we don't want to put the United States armed forces if it takes, I don't know how many, 50,000, 70,000 initially. We don't want a bunch of young men in battle dress uniforms out there indefinitely trying to perform humanitarian assistance. That is not our job. We are not very good at it. We are also not any good at police work. Now, we are doing a lot of it in places like Kosovo and Bosnia, and we have and it has been unfortunate. So, we should try to do better in this case.
Mr. HUNTER. Let me tell the gentleman we have one minute left on this vote. I think they are going to hold it for a little bit. But, I am inclined, if you want to pursue the last of this question, the chair is going to run over and make this vote. I am going to come back in five minutes.
Mr. SCHROCK. So am I.
Mr. HUNTER. And, Ed will be back, too, so let's take a five, ten minute break. We will be right back. And Ms. Davis, too. Excuse me.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Folks, we will resume here. And, we may get a few more members back in a couple of minutes.
General CLARK. I had one more question that was about new inspections. Can I answer, Mr. Chairman, for the record?
Mr. HUNTER. Sure. Absolutely.
General CLARK. From the gentleman who asked me the question, the third part of it when we broke was about why do the inspections, and what if they don't work? I think the answer is that we have to set up an inspection regime, and that is what should be going on here in the course of the discussions at the United Nations, which has enough trip wires and bells and whistles on it that we can intensify it to accomplish our broader purposes, even if the inspection comes up dry. And, maybe it will find something. And, as one person reminded me at the break, if you find one warhead and one weapon, you have accomplished something more and taken one more asset away from him that could be used against us or our
friends. So I think that we do have time and we should use that time to promote and exhaust all of the non-force of arms remedies.
Mr. HUNTER. Let me just follow up on that question, General. If you thought that theif you had evidence that Saddam Hussein was going to have a nuclear device in four months, would you recommend taking American action to destroy that capability.
General CLARK. Yes, I would.
Mr. HUNTER. Then how can you say with any certainty that time is on your side?
General CLARK. You can say that in the near-term, based on the information available, that we should exhaust all diplomatic means because you don't have the hard information if he has a single nuclear device.
Mr. HUNTER. But my point is, my question to you is, let me get back to the question. You said and you went through all of the different estimates as to when he is going to have one. You also concur, I take it, with the fact that when we went in in 1991, our projection was that he was three to five years away. And we found out he was six months away. So we were wrong, weren't we, at that time?
General CLARK. You know, I have never seen all of the details on which that projection was based. I think it assumed that if he had fissionable material, he could have a crude nuclear device, not a nuclear weapon, but something like a dirty bomb in six months.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. But, I would hope you would accept the facts that have come before this committee over the last numerous hearings that that is what basically is stated in opening testimony that we said it was three to five years, and in fact, six months is accurate. And, that is what we do know because we went in and we found and we did deprive him then of his facilities, or some of his facilities when we went in. Now, if that is so, and you have said there are estimates all over the lot, and nobody is sure what he has, how can you then say that you know. You didn't say, “Maybe that time is on our side.” You said, “Time is on our side.” How do you know, how can you say with certainty “Time is on our side” if the basic facts underlying that statement are, in your words, uncertain?
General CLARK. Well, I don't want to answer this in an epistemological sense. I want to answer it just in a sense of practical statesmanship.
Mr. HUNTER. That is the way I am trying to ask it.
General CLARK. I think you have to balance risks. And, I think that in balancing the risks, it is better to take the time now to line up a strong-as-possible diplomatic support and a military coalition before you have to take what looks like will probably be inevitable action, rather than rushing into something on the presumption that your intelligence is faulty and you don't have the time to prepare it because in the last course, if we had the information that you are suggesting that he was going to have a nuclear device, presumably we would have some idea of where it was. And, we have the means to strike Saddam Hussein literally on a moment's notice
today. We could do so if we were under threat. We should take the time. It is a matter of practical statesmanship.
Mr. HUNTER. Well, but the evidence that we had then, after we went in, was that he was six months away. The proposals that were made by Senator Nunn and others that we embark on a longrange sanctions program would certainly have fallen outside, because they were programs that would go on for years presumably, would certainly have fallen outside that six-month period. So in retrospect, was that, then, not a mistake? Or would that not have been a mistake to have waited for several years at that point.
General CLARK. I think these areI understand what you are asking. These are hypothetical questions. You know, I think with the value of hindsight, what you realize is that there are many, you know, "ifs," "would haves" and "buts” in situations like this. The question before the United States of America is whether we think our intelligence system is so faulty and our lack of information so gross that we would feel the need to rush to a military solution before we have taken the time to adequately build up the diplomatic and full military support capabilities that will assure we get a more favorable outcome.
And you know, it is a question of where the weight of the evidence is. I no longer have access to the information this committee has. You may have information I have not seen. But, based on the evidence submitted publicly, and my experience over many years of looking at classified information, I would say the balance comes down on time is on our side in the near time. We don't know precisely how long that is and we don't know exactly where we will draw the line on that risk. As long as we are achieving momentum in building support for our case and building legitimacy, as long as we have all of the sensors and all of the intelligence capabilities of the United States focused on Iraq, we have no specific indicators of any breakthrough, leakage or sudden development, then press on. Time is on our side in a practical sense.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Perle.
General CLARK. Mr. Chairman, with your permission, sir, I hate to do this, but I have to depart. I have got to get a plane at Reagan Airport to make previous commitments that I can't get out of. I beg your indulgence.
Mr. HUNTER. Well, General, you have stuck around for a long time and it is sometimes hard to get out of this city, and feel free to leave. And Mr. Perle, you may want to answer that particular question. But I tell you what, before you take off here, General, just one other question for you. You said that we don't want to recruit a bunch of new al Qaeda members by doing something that disturbs the extremist world. Our last military operations have been ones in which we have saved Muslims by the hundreds of thousands and the millions, whether it is Kuwait or Kosovo. And yet, we seem to have had an attack on the United States by some extremists. How would you explain that? What else do you think we could have done in terms of opening our arms, in fact, shedding our blood for components of the Muslim world that we didn't do?
General CLARK. Well, I think it takes a number of measures. But I