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OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. DUNCAN HUNTER
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
September 26, 2002
Today, the Committee on Armed Services continues its review of United States policy toward Iraq.
This morning's hearing marks the fourth 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 Nation's 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 classified briefing from the Intelligence Community in each of the last three weeks, which we also opened up to all Members of the House in the last couple weeks. We also heard from former UNSCOM inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart U.N. inspections.
And we heard from an Iraqi defector who ran Saddam's nuclear weapons program; he told us how the Iraqis built and sustained their weapons of mass destruction programs through the acquisition of Western technology, and how the United States' own export control system may have contributed to the problems we are now facing with Iraq.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld appeared before the Committee last week to discuss and defend the Administration's policy toward Iraq. And yesterday morning the Committee met behind closed doors with several retired generals to hear their views on this critical issue, with a special focus on military options.
The Committee is planning on holding another hearing next Wednesday on the topic of U.S. policy toward Iraq.
Today, however, we will hear from two well-known gentlemen who have distinguished themselves in the world of foreign and defense policy--
• The Honorable Richard Perle is a Resident Fellow at the
American Enterprise Institute and Chairman of the Defense
• 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
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 disarming Iraq. But the question then becomes what happens