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Mr. WELDON. Second question. Dr. Cohen, in your testimony you mentioned that the Iraqi military is far less capable than it was ten years ago, and I would agree with that. And you mentioned that there would be no problem in ultimately achieving victory, and I also agree with that.
Dr. O'Hanlon, in your testimony you basically acknowledged the same, but you do say that a greater strategic threat to U.S. forces is the likelihood that large numbers of Iraqi civilians could perish, and that Saddam Hussein will make sure of that. And I think that is perhaps one of the greatest risks we face strategically, because Saddam, knowing that his military is far less capable, knows that he can't in any way stand up against a coalition force or the U.S. alone. Therefore, he has got to win this on the TV sets and in those groups in this country that are just against war under any circumstances, and I think that is already beginning to happen.
I saw an article yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor that a group in Alexandria, Virginia said that they are now recruiting volunteers to act as human shields. These are U.S. citizens. And I quote, “They are trying to recruit old people”. “It is more comfortable to ask someone who is nearing the end of their lives to do this,". So American groups, planning to take American citizens into Iraq to place them in urban areas and inner-city areas where the likelihood of them being killed is very high.
What are your comments on that, and what are your suggestions? I mean, Saddam obviously knows this. He has used this ploy in the past. So it is not just now a problem of the Iraqis and the collateral damage to innocent civilians, but now what appears to be a deliberate attempt by American-based groups to take Americans over to Iraq so that they, in fact, can become human targets.
Dr. COHEN. Well, let me, if I could, try to respond at a number of levels. First, just in terms of the law of war, what we are obliged to do is to make every reasonable effort to safeguard civilian lives. But, in war civilians do get hurt, and I have complete confidence that the American military will do everything that it can do. If it fails and civilians are killed and hurt, as is quite likely, we are not culpable in any-certainly in any legal or, I would argue, in a moral sense.
You know, I agree with a basic point that Michael made, which seems to me central. We should not be talking about cakewalks, we shouldn't be talking about something that will be effortless. I think where we may disagree a little bit is I can imagine a range of outcomes. I can imagine something that is very sudden, and really very cheap in terms of loss of life on our side and Iraqi civilians. And, I can imagine some of the darker scenarios that he sketched out, and I think when you make your decision, you have to accept that that is the case.
But, I just think that it is very, very unpredictable. I think in that context we have to walk into this with our eyes open and accept that. I think part of the challenge of leadership is going to be to prepare people for that.
One final point that I hate to make, but I think I have to make it, it is one of the ways in which our determination will be understood, particularly in that part of the world, is if we make it clear that we are going to do this anyhow.
Dr. O'HANLON. Mr. Chairman, I do agree with Eliot Cohen, first of all, that there is a range of possible outcomes. I hope very much this is very quick. I think there is a decent chance, if we put 200,000 forces in Kuwait and in surrounding countries, the Iraqi military will take this matter into its own hands.
But one of the reasons I think you don't want to think in terms of cakewalks, because putting 200,000 forces in Kuwait is by itself not a cakewalk, and, therefore, to generate the very kind of outcome that we most want, we have to be braced for and prepared for the actual big conflict.
On the issue of casualties, I do worry. I didn't know this particular case that you mentioned. I do worry about the general issue of Westerners in Baghdad when this war begins, whether they are inspectors that Saddam decides not to let go, whether they are journalists. I think that we do have to face—this is more of a question for down the road if we get into this war, but I think this is an idea that won't go over well in many quarters, but I think it is actually worth raising right now—there may be certain circumstances under which we want to negotiate an asylum arrangement for Saddam if that is the way to get him not to use his weapons of mass destruction and not to kill hostages.
I don't know how many countries in the world would want him. I think Belarus comes to mind as one of the few places I could imagine, and maybe one or two others. But that kind of a thing, as politically delicate of an issue as it may be to raise in a country where Saddam has been our nemesis for a decade, I think it is the sort of thing that we may have to consider, because there are going to be these issues of hostages. It may not be the human shield people, but it may be the journalists and others who are covering the
Dr. COHEN. If I could just add two things, one to maybe counterbalance things a little bit. The Serbs tried the human shield technique a little bit, and they pretty soon fell off of it. People's sense of self-preservation, it seems to me, eventually is going to kick in.
I think the other thing, though, that we have to be prepared for is in the aftermath of a successful military operation, there is probably going to be a lot of Iraqi-on-Iraqi bloodshed. There have been a lot of people who have suffered under this regime. If we think back to the Shi’ite revolts against the Iraqi regime immediately after the Gulf War, there was a lot of ugly stuff. That is going to happen actually in the aftermath of this kind of conflict as well.
Mr. WELDON. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. That is one of the items that concerns me a great deal, what happens after. At end of the day, I think history will be written about what happened after the de-weaponizing and the changing of the guard in Iraq.
Mr. O'Hanlon talked about some 50- to 100,000 American troops. Look on the dark side each of you and then again on the bright side as to what could happen. I am deeply concerned about this. I have been pushing. We finally got some language in the proposed resolution making reference to the aftermath, but I am not sure that there is a plan in force now. There was a plan for Bosnia that has worked pretty well, a plan for Kosovo that is beginning to
work, I think, and there were plans after the two-after defeating Japan and Germany.
Tell us what your best thoughts are.
Dr. COHEN. Shall I take a crack at that? I am not a Middle East expert, I hasten to say. I think there are two very different schools of thought among people I respect who have devoted their lives to studying that part of the world. There are those who say, “Look, the culture that you are dealing with is, and the particular history of Iraq is such that you cannot hope for anything other than some kind of dictatorship. I mean, anything else just isn't going to work.”
There are others who say, “Well, this is actually one of the most educated populations in the Middle East. You have a large and important and influential diaspora of Iraqis who can make a contribution.” The world has changed, and so perhaps our prospects are better, and, again, I think there is a range of outcomes.
In the absolute worst scenario, it seems to me, we end up with a general in charge of Iraq who is something of a thug, but he is not Saddam. He is not Saddam for two reasons. One is he has seen what has happened to Saddam and doesn't want to have that happen to him. And, second, he probably doesn't match Saddam in his extraordinary ferocity.
Saddam really is, I think, off the charts. He has not had the resources of a Hitler, or a Stalin or a Mao, but he is in that category of world leader. In some ways he is a little bit beyond them, because this is a man who, after all, has periodically beaten people to death with his bare fists for the sheer pleasure of it and clearly has a personal sadistic streak as well as a larger collective one.
In the worst circumstance then, if you have a regime that is simply replaced by a thuggish general, we are still ahead. And in some ways the Iraqi people are still somewhat ahead of where they were. That is, I think, the kind of low end of what our expectations would be.
The higher end is the kind of thing that Michael was talking about, where there is an American presence for some time, and you have what I would argue would probably be a moderate authoritarian regime. The numbers that he cited seem to me to be roughly right. So much depends on which allies would be willing to be involved, say the Jordanians, for example.
I think I agree with you, we should be doing a lot of planning for it. I also agree in the long run we may well be looking at an increase in end strength, not just because of Iraq, but because of everything that we are doing in Afghanistan and Central Asia and will continue to do there.
One final point I would raise, just in terms of what you might encourage the Defense Department to think about, or the administration to think about, is whether we might not want to move as soon as possible to civilian rather than military administration, where the military is in support, where you had a figure like something like Ambassador Oakley was in Somalia, or someone of the character of the Deputy Secretary of State would be the right kind of person to try to take Iraq through a period of something like five to ten years.
Dr. O'HANLON. Congressman, thanks for the question. It is a tough one.
I think that the worst case, the worst case is not this level of military effort from the United States, because we can do that, and it will cost us. It may require at least a temporary increase in end strength. We know how to do an occupation, and we—as you say, we are pretty good at it. Even in modern times we seem to have begun to find our touch again, at least to a limited extent in the Balkans.
The real worst case, I think, is if we win the war and pull out quickly, and then Iraq descends into civil conflict, which has—and Eliot has mentioned that there is at least the tinderbox potential for that. There are a number of potential consequences of that.
The worst case of those is not all of the chemical and biological agent being destroyed in the war, and then al Qaeda getting its hands on that agent in the aftermath. It is the sort of chemicalbiological equivalent of the Pakistan decay or deterioration scenario that we all worry about where Pakistan falls apart and its nuclear weapons get in the hands of Islamic extremists.
In Iraq, if you leave that country without having destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction and allow civil conflict to ensue, then you actually make the problem worse, and the likelihood of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction getting in the hands of terrorists is actually much greater than it is today, I would argue.
So, that to me is the worst case, that the administration, which has opposed anything sounding like nation-building, takes that philosophy to an unfortunate extreme and pulls back quickly after this war, allowing not just for what I just said, but also possibly for the Kurds to try to secede, which could bring the Turks into Iraq as they try to clamp down on the Kurds, could even lead to some kind of a quasi-legitimization for an Iranian movement into southeastern Iraq, and I think we could have a real mess.
And I worry about it because this administration, as well as it conducted the overall war in terrorism, in my judgment, it has been so adamantly against U.S. participation in state-building that I worry that they would extend the philosophy here to a postwar Iraq, and that would be a huge mistake.
Mr. SKELTON. Thank you very much.
I have another question regarding support of the United Nations, but I will postpone it to the end of the hearing. Thank you.
Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman. And we will now go to members. We will follow the five-minute rule in the order that members appeared, starting with the gentlelady from Virginia, Mrs. Davis for five minutes.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I just have one question for Dr. Cohen. What do you think should be our adequate response to Iraq were they to use biological and chemical weapons on our servicemen?
Dr. COHEN. Well, if we assume the operation is intended to overthrow the regime, then, you know, we will—we would intensify our efforts, but they should be pretty intense as it is. I do think that one of the things that we should do, very early on, is make it clear that we will hold individual Iraqi officers responsible for the use of those weapons, and make a strenuous effort to communicate that fact to quite junior Iraqi officers so they understand that if they turn those things loose on us, they will be held personally account
able, and if they refuse to follow orders to do so, they will be all right.
And, I would suspect that we have a fair amount of credibility, or we will have a fair amount of credibility, in the context of a war in which it is very clear that we intend to get rid of that regime. So, it seems to me that is going to be the centerpiece of that effort. So, the issue of holding individuals accountable and having a tremendous effort to communicate that probably is the most likely way to prevent it from happening, or to make sure that it happens only in a limited way.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. The gentleman that we had here testifying. I believe it was in this committee, I am also on the Committee on International Relations, so I get them mixed up, so excuse mestated, when I asked him the question, what did he think Saddam Hussein would do were he backed into a corner if we were to attack, and he was very adamant that he felt that he would unleash everything that he has. Do you agree with that?
Dr. COHEN. Saddam is a survivor. In that way he is unlike Hitler. This is not a man who is going to commit suicide. He will go down trying to get somebody else. He is a very vengeful man, but I think he wants to stick around. At some point is he capable of doing this? Obviously. But the thing to remember, it is not Saddam who is going to be firing the rocket or opening the canister, it is going to be he has to have other people, in the bureaucratic context, do that, and they will not do that until they get authoritative direction from him.
You know, one thing, during the Iran Iraq war, Mirage pilots did not fly without personal orders from Saddam Hussein. It is that kind of system. This is an extremely centralized system, which also makes it a very vulnerable system in some important ways. So what we have to focus on is the operators, the people who would actually have to press the buttons or open the canisters or do whatever has to be done.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Dr. O'Hanlon.
Dr. O'HANLON. Congresswoman, I think it is a very important question. I think there is good news and bad news that I would add to what Eliot has said. I agree with what he has already stated.
In terms of the chemical and biological threat, I believe that we are pretty well prepared militarily. In some ways I am worried more about what Saddam might be able to do against the United States homeland. Although the good news there is he has devoted his intelligence operatives in the last years to try to acquire technology to build weapons of mass destruction, he has not infiltrated Western countries as much, for example, as Hezbollah may have cased certain Western targets. So, I think there is reason to hope that that worst-case scenario of an attack on the homeland would not happen, but we have to be braced for the possibility.
I also think I am relatively optimistic about the Scud missile threat. I actually think that even if Saddam has a couple dozen of these, the technology is probably not much better than it was back in 1991, when these rockets broke up in descent, and I think if he tried to deliver a chemical or biological agent against Israel, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait with those rockets, I think he would not do very