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Much has also been made of the depleted inventories of precision munitions in the aftermath of last fall's intensive aerial operations, including satellite-guided joint direct attack munitions, or JDAM. But this concern is easily exaggerated when considering the feasibility of a war against Saddam. Stocks of most other ordnance, including Maverick and Hellfire missiles, appear ample based on unclassified estimates. Inventories of laser-guided bombs may not be full, but are surely considerable given how many were used in Afghanistan.

We did not even have JDAM the last time we fought Iraq. And we might not be able to make much use of it in urban combat anyway since it typically misses its targets by 10 yards or so (meaning that a bomb aimed at Iraqi troops might hit a hospital instead). But we are producing more quickly, and inventories will be substantially larger by the end of the year—the soonest we would plausibly fight Iraq, given that months of preparations needed before any conflict.


Finally, what about getting to the fight? Most U.S. sealift has hardly been used in Afghanistan and would be quickly available for a war against Iraq. That fleet is by far its strongest ever, a largely unsung accomplishment of the Clinton administration and the Congress in the 1990s was the construction of almost 20 large roll-on/roll-off ships for rapid transport of equipment. Airlift has been much more heavily used in Afghanistan. But current operations there involve a quarter of the total U.S. capability, at most.

None of this is to suggest that war against Saddam is a good idea or a necessary option. Nor does it solve the diplomatic problem of gaining wartime access to bases in the Persian Gulf. But American adversaries should have no doubt about our ability to mount a large-scale military operation, and to do it soon if necessary.


How can inspections accomplish their purpose of verifying the disarmament of Iraq from its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile capabilities? The track record on inspections in Iraq is mixed. Rather than argue over whether they have been mostly good or mostly poor, we should recognize what inspections do well, and take advantage of those positives. To its credit, despite taking a dismissive attitude about inspections during the summer (particularly in the cases of Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld), the Bush administration appears to be pursuing improved inspections in its effort to craft a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq.

The following elements should be included in any new inspections concept. If properly applied, they should force Saddam to make irreversible reductions in his WMD capabilities in the next few months, while the threat of U.S. military action should he fail to comply is most credible. They should also provide rather high confidence that he will

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not make major progress towards a nuclear weapons capability. That is the one major
WMD capability he does not now possess, and it is the type that could probably cause
the most damage to western interests if he did possess it. Hence, an inspections
regime that reliably prevented Iraq from obtaining a nuclear capability would in my
judgment be acceptable, even if it could not absolutely guarantee elimination of all of his
chemical and biological weapons.

Iraq must come into compliance with all U.N. disarmament demands and other
requirements imposed on it after the Persian Gulf War, including but hardly limited to
the immediate return of U.N. inspectors.
Those inspectors must not be impeded from visiting any potential weapons sites in
Iraq, including presidential palaces and compounds, at any time and without notice.
Nor can they be impeded from access to any Iraqis they choose to converse with, or
from determining the composition of their inspection teams as they see fit.
The United Nations must have the power to immediately grant asylum to any Iraqi
weapons experts as well as their families, should such experts provide information to
the United Nations that could put their lives at risk.
Iraq must account for, display, and allow U.N. destruction of stocks of chemical and
biological weapons and munitions that we know it possesses, and do so within a

short, specific time period.
• Iraq must agree to intrusive, long-term monitoring of its weapons capabilities that

would include no-notice inspections.
And even if Iraq were to comply fully with all these requirements, its future oil
revenues would still have to be escrowed to control its purchases of dual-use

One additional but essential component of the ultimatum concerns Iraq's neighbors. Since they would all prefer to avoid a U.S. invasion of Iraq, they need to agree to stop their illicit trade with Iraq - by which oil comes out, and many goods including weapons and dual-use technology go into that country. This would require detailed negotiations with Jordan, Turkey, Syria, and perhaps even Iran, including some combination of economic incentives and strong pressure that would depend in its details on the country in question. Without tighter sanctions, weapons disarmament and inspections efforts will be far less effective.

There is a chance Saddam will accept this ultimatum and allow the return of the inspectors, if the clear alternative is his demise, despite his recent insistence that he will not comply with any new U.N. resolution. Some would prefer that he comply, others that he refuse and, in doing so, provide undeniable justification for war. The key point, however, is that either outcome would be better than the current alternatives: allowing Saddam to keep his weapons and his power, or unilaterally waging war.


Is Saddam Hussein deterrable, and does containment thus provide an alternative to war, especially if rigorous weapons inspections and disarmament can again be

conducted within Iraq? Some say no, noting his aggressiveness in attacking Iran and Kuwait as well as his own civilian populations. But even aggressive, evil rulers such as Joseph Stalin and Kim Il-Sung, the former North Korean leader, can often be deterred when faced with a credible threat that any aggression they attempt will meet a firm response. Moreover, those who argue that Saddam is not deterrable should remember Ambassador April Glaspie's famous statement to him before the invasion of Kuwait that the United States did not take a position on his border disputes with neighboring countries. The United States did not exactly give him a green light to invade Kuwait, but it gave him little more than a yellow light. Its failure to oppose that aggression before the fact ranks with Acheson's famous 1949 statement that Korea was outside the zone of U.S. security interests as among the worst examples of deterrence failure in American history. And once Saddam had already taken Kuwait, it was no great surprise that he refused to vacate it in the face of American threats. Political scientists have recognized for decades that compellence, or getting a country to undo an action already taken, is much harder than deterrence, or persuading it not to do something it may be contemplating.

Today, there is no such ambiguity in American willingness to respond to any aggression by Saddam. The only small uncertainty relates to what we would do if he again attacked his own populations, notably the Kurds in the north and Shia in the south. But even there, Saddam now knows he would be taking huge risks.

As threatening and dangerous as Saddam Hussein may be, the recent track record suggests that he can be dissuaded from undertaking actions that he believes would likely lead to his overthrow. During the Gulf War, he desisted from using the weapons of mass destruction we now know he had, realizing (following explicit threats from U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney) that to do So would almost surely lead to his downfall. He moved brigades southward towards Kuwait again in 1994, only to pull back once the Clinton administration mounted Operation "Vigilant Warrior," a deployment of tens of thousands of troops). He interfered with the work of foreign weapons inspectors frequently, and ultimately expelled them, but never killed or harmed them. He brutally attacked Shia resistance forces in southern Iraq in 1991, after it became clear that the first Bush administration would not interfere to stop such operations, but generally avoided brutality against Kurds in the north once the United States made clear its commitment to their security. In 1996, he did direct an incursion into Kurdish parts of Iraq-but only after internecine warfare among Kurds, and an explicit invitation to him to intervene by one of the Kurdish factions, made it unlikely that the United States would be in a position to oppose him.

There is counterevidence. Saddam tried to kill former President George Bush in 1993, an action that, if successful, might very well have led to a U.S. operation to assassinate him. Saddam might also think he could assist al Qaeda or a similar organization, providing it with biological agents or other material support, and not be caught doing so. But he also knows that we have a proven ability to track meetings between his agents and potential terrorists and that we can often trace the origins of chemical or biological agents based on their genetic content, particle size, chemical coating, or other

attributes. Thus while there is a chance his cooperation with terrorists could succeed in escaping detection, there is a better chance that we would figure out what he was up to. For a person like Saddam who cherishes his hold on power, the odds would probably not seem favorable. And as for the attempted assassination, now that Saddam recognizes our intelligence capabilities, he appears to have thought better of his vendetta against the former American president, and has not again tried to have him or any other American heroes from the 1991 Gulf War killed.

Deterrence could fail in the future nonetheless, at least in a limited way. In particular, if Saddam had a nuclear weapon, he would still almost surely be deterred from directly attacking the United States or its NATO allies. But he might take greater risks in the Middle East and Persian Gulf in the belief that his new weapon effectively guaranteed his regime's survival, making U.S.-led intervention to thwart his regional ambitions less likely except in the most extreme of circumstances.

What might Saddam do under such circumstances? Perhaps he would seize the oil field on his border with Kuwait that was the purported original cause of the 1990 Iraq-Kuwait crisis. Or he might violate the safe haven in his country's Kurd region and seek to reestablish brutal Ba'ath party rule over that minority population. He might escalate his support for anti-Israeli terrorism, stoking radicals and suicide bombers and trying to provoke Israel into an overreaction. Given his propensity for miscalculation, he might think he could get away with actions that we would in fact find unacceptable, causing a failure of deterrence and a much greater risk of war. In a worst case, on his deathbed he might decide to attack Israel with nuclear weapons for purposes of simple vengeance, and to ensure his mark upon Arab history books.



This situation would be at least somewhat risky, even if not mortally perilous to the United States, so the case for preventing Saddam from getting nuclear weapons is strong. But the argument that he can be deterred, and has been deterred, from taking most types of dangerous actions is also strong. That situation could clearly change in the event of a war targeting his regime, however.

As noted, this section as well as several others draw in part on my recent article with Philip H. Gordon and Martin Indyk, “Getting Serious About Iraq," Survival (Autumn 2002), available at www.brookings.edu. See Vernon Loeb, “Study: New Demands Could Tax Military," Washington Post, September 23, 2002, p. 13. See International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2001/2002 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 134-135. * See, for example, Patrick Clawson, “Why Saddam is Ripe for a Fall,” Washington Post, January 1, 2002; Ken Adelman, “Cakewalk In Iraq,” Washington Post, February 13, 2002; Richard Perle, "Should Iraq Be Next?," speech to the Foreign Policy Research Institute, distributed by Copley News Service, December 17, 2001; Michael Dobbs, “Old Strategy on Iraq Sparks New Debate: Backers Say Plan Proven in Afghanistan," Washington Post, December 27, 2001; and James M. Woolsey, “Should the United States Go to War with Iraq?” CATO Institute Forum, Washington, D.C., December 13, 2001. sFor methods of estimating how large invading and occupying combat forces must be, see Michael O'Hanlon, Saving Lives with Force (Brookings, 1997).

See Christopher J. Bowie, The Anti-Access Threat and Theater Air Bases (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2002), p. 17.

See Central Intelligence Agency, CIA World Fact Book 2001 [http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html].

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