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OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. CURT WELDON
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
October 2, 2002
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 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 series of classified briefings from the Intelligence Community on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction and conventional military capabilities. We also heard from former UNSCOM inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart 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 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.
Thank you Mr.Skelton.
Dr. Cohen, the floor is yours.
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