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ready to go, we are going to have chaos in that region. We may not get control of all the weapons of mass destruction, technicians,
plans, capabilities. In fact, what may happen is we will remove a - repressive regime and have it replaced with a fundamentalist re
gime which contributes to the strategic problem rather than to helping to solve it.
So, all that having been said, the option to use force must remain on the table. It should be used as the last resort after all diplomatic means have been exhausted, unless there is information that indicates that a further delay would represent an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations. And, I want to underscore that the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that is longstanding, it has been a decade in the making and needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this.
Obviously, once initiated, a military operation should aim for the most respected accomplishment of its operational aims and prompt turnover to follow-on organizations and agencies.
And, I think if we proceed as outlined above, we may be able to minimize the disruption to the ongoing campaign against al Qaeda. We could reduce the impact on friendly governments in the region and even contribute to the resolution of other regional issues, perhaps such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Iranian efforts to develop nuclear capabilities, and Saudi funding for terrorism.
But, there are no guarantees. The war is unpredictable. It could be difficult and costly. And, what is at risk in the aftermath is an open-ended American ground commitment in Iraq and an even deeper sense of humiliation in the Arab world, which could intensify our problems in the region and elsewhere.
The yellow light is flashing. We have a problem. We have got to muster the best judgment in this country. We have to muster the will of the American people. And, we've got to be prepared to deal with this problem. But, time is on our side in the near term and we should use it. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you General Clark.
[The prepared statement of General Clark can be found in the Appendix on page 338.]
Mr. HUNTER. General Clark, when we went into Desert Storm, our best estimate and the United Nations' best estimate was that Saddam Hussein was three to five years away from having a nuclear system. That information to some degree was the basis upon which very distinguished Americans like Sam Nunn said what you just said today, which is time is on our side, and they offered a policy that involved sanctions over a long period of time.
When we arrived we found that he was, according to the United Nations and inspectors who testified before this committee, six months away from having a nuclear weapon, meaning that the judgment that time was on our side argument was one that was greatly in error. And, had we taken it, we would have perhaps suffered disastrous consequences.
Now we have had inspectors appear before this committee who said that they were turned away when they were close to things
they thought were important. They were held off in parking lots. They were ushered into a lot of empty rooms. They never met with the weapons community. And, out of the 200 and some-odd inspections that they made, almost none of them were a surprise. The upshot of their testimony was that if Saddam Hussein wants to keep us from seeing his chemical, biological, and nuclear complexand he denies that he has a chemical or biological complex-he will succeed.
We then followed that testimony with the testimony of an Iraqi nuclear engineer who was very much at the forefront of Saddam Hussein's programs, who said essentially, "While you Americans were inspecting in 1993, we were continuing to move aggressively, not far away, with a weapons program right under your noses, basically”.
Now, everything that you have told us with respect to the timeis-on-our-side argument is based on the presumption that these inspections can be successful. What can you offer us in terms of how we could have more effective inspections and how we could, against the will of Saddam Hussein, actually walk into a room and have a large piece of evidence of a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons program in front of us on the table when our inspectors arrive? Please tell us how we can do that what we haven't been able to before.
General CLARK. First of all, I am not making my case on the presumption that inspections won't necessarily be effective. That is not the case. I think an inspection program will provide some impedance and interference with Saddam's efforts. I think it can undercut the legitimacy and authorities of his regime at home. I think it can provide warning of further developments. I think it can establish a trigger. I think it can build legitimacy for the United States. Ultimately, it is going to be inadequate in the main. But as far as the intelligence is concerned and the time available, I don't know how to make sense of the intelligence. And, we have heard six months from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). We have heard the latest British estimate of a couple of years. We heard other people say a year. We heard Iraqi defectors saying it is ready; all he has to do is machine the plutonium if he can get his hands on it.
The honest truth is that the absence of intelligence is not an adequate reason to go forward to war in and of itself. So what we have to do is, we have to build a program that encourages other nations to share our perspective. We can do it relatively quickly. We should not discard inspections. They have done some measure of good; otherwise, Saddam wouldn't object to them so strongly.
Mr. HUNTER. But, General Clark, if we embark on these inspections and we accept inspections as the answer, as the end, and we embark on these inspections--and we must presume that Saddam Hussein is as successful as he has been in the past at hiding the evidence from the inspection teams, evidence that we knew existed-how are we--you mentioned if we do these inspections, we are somehow going to galvanize the community of nations on our side. Now, if we do inspections and we don't find that which we know is there, but Saddam Hussein has allowed us to come into the country and absorb the inspectors successfully, how does that
galvanize a community of nations to rally behind the United States?
General CLARK. I think you have to have an echelon series of inspections. I think you start small and I think you expand the intrusiveness, the scope and scale of the inspections. And, I think you do that until you are either satisfied, and the nation which brings the complaint to the United Nations, i.e. The United States, is satisfied; or you cross- and triple-red-line, which Saddam says no, and then you move to the next stage.
But, I am not presuming that inspections will be successful. What I am asking you to consider is the United States' overall leadership responsibilities in the world and how we move ahead collectively with our allies and friends around the world to deal with this problem. What inspections are useful in doing, they are useful in highlighting the nature of the Iraqi regime, and we may deter him, impede him, undercut him, get warning, establish a trigger, and build our legitimacy from this. And, this is one way of proceeding.
Mr. HUNTER. Would you recommend very aggressive, very intrusive inspections, which would be accompanied by forces which could, in cases where inspectors are denied entry, literally force their way into Iraqi facilities?
General CLARK. I would like to see a program like that established, but it may not be the initial program.
Mr. HUNTER. What if the United Nations does not end up ordering those inspections, but nonetheless—but instead orders inspections which to some degree replicate those that were in the past, those that were not successful in removing this program. What would you recommend at that point?
General CLARK. I think we need to give the President the strongest possible leverage to get the right program put in place at the United Nations.
Mr. HUNTER. That is going to require consensus from other members of the United Nations. That is not a unilateral instrument for the United States.
General CLARK. That is correct.
Mr. HUNTER. Let me finish my question. Don't you think that it is not reasonable to expect that the United Nations is going to produce an extremely aggressive backed-by-force inspection regime?
General CLARK. I think that the President's determination has given us strong leverage to get the kind of commitment from the United Nations that we need. But, every country has its own domestic problems and this requires the energy and imagination of our diplomats to work through this. I don't consider this case lost at this point. I think it is very much up in the air. I think the actions of this body are very important to determining the outcome.
But, I will say this: The administration has not proceeded heretofore in a way that would encourage its friends and allies to support it. One of the problems we have is the overhang from a number of decisions taken by the administration, which have undercut its friends and allies around the world and given the impression that the United States doesn't respect the opinions of others. So, we are swimming a little bit upstream on this. But, I think a
strong resolution from this body, set up promptly, with broad support and narrowed focus on the problems of weapons of mass destruction, would give additional leverage. And, I would urge that it be adopted.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. Thank, both of you, for your excellent testimony. We do appreciate it.
As I see it, there are four basic elements to this whole issue. Number one is diplomacy, which you have discussed; the United Nations exhausting that all the way, if at all possible. Number two, establishing a real goal, and that goal in my opinion is the disarmament of that country, and I am convinced along with that, the Saddam Hussein regime will fold. Third is how we fight and get it done should that happen. And, fourth is the one that personally troubles me the most, because that is what we have to live with.
General in your prepared statement, you said that force should not be used until the personnel and organizations to be involved in post-conflict Iraq are identified and ready to assume their responsibilities. And, I couldn't agree with you more. You further say this includes requirements for humanitarian assistance, police and judicial capabilities, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance, preparation for a transitional governing body, eventual elections, perhaps even including a new constitution.
Suppose everything works out smoothly, including the military action—and we do have a first rate military, we all agree on that. Tell us more than what you have here of the potential dangers that are out there. The Kurds are sitting up there in the north. Iranians are not going to be idle bystanders. The country is made up of 60 percent Shiite and we know the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein are Sunnis.
What chances are there for anarchy? What do you do with the henchmen that would be on the secondary tier of the regime that have carried out the unspeakable orders of Saddam Hussein and his people, scientists and engineers? Or, is there a possibility of a true, peaceful transition to a responsible state in addition thereto?
What about the other countries like Syria, and I mentioned Iran and their influence on this whole post-conflict Iraq? And, I would also ask the same question of Mr. Perle.
General CLARK. This is a very important question and particularly because we are trying to not only eliminate the weapons of mass destruction, but end up with a situation in which we are net better off than we are today. We have to look at this question very seriously. I think much depends on the circumstances of the military operation itself as to what the impact will be, how long it will take. The broader the coalition, the stronger the preparations in advance, the smoother the operation is likely to be, the more rapid Saddam's army will collapse, and the less humanitarian hardship is likely to be imposed.
That having been said, once we move into the area, what we can expect is a complete breakdown of governmental authority. It is not only Saddam Hussein, but it is the people who, as you suggested, the henchmen and all the people who are complicit in that regime, who have illegally confiscated land, carried out his orders for exe
cutions and torture, and forced name changes and identity changes. Revenge will be exacted. We have already seen this in what happened in 1991 with the Shia rebellion in southern Iraq, when they thought we were coming to help them liberate Iraq. So we have to imagine a complete breakdown of order.
That will be accompanied no doubt by a breakdown in the distribution of services, water, food. It is possible that Saddam Hussein may use biological weapons. If so, it is very possible he will use it against his own people. In an effort to impede our advance, he may try to solve the problem of the Shias in the south through the use of biological weapons.
So, we really don't know what we are going to face. So, in the immediate aftermath, there is going to be the possibility of a chaotic environment that is going to require a substantial American presence as well as a vast humanitarian governmental structure to meet the needs of the 23 million Iraqi people.
Then we are dealing with the longer midterm-or the midterm problems: Will Iraq be able to establish a government that holds it together or will it fragment? There are strong fractionary forces at work in Iraq, and they will continue to be exacerbated by regional tensions in the area. The Shia in the south will be pulled by the Iranians. The Kurds want their own organization. The Kurds will be hemmed in by the Turks. The Iraqis also. The Iranians also are nervous of the Kurds. But nevertheless, the Kurds have a certain mass and momentum that they built up. They will have to work to establish their participation in the government or their own identity.
There is a question of the nature of a successor regime. If it is a strong man, will it be any better? Will we get rid of weapons of mass destruction or will someone emerge in this chaos who says, "Look, I have overthrown Saddam. You Americans can deal with me. I am the guy in charge right now. Here, you can have your weapons of mass destruction; we are not interested".
Then how do we really know we really got all the weapons of mass destruction out of there? Or, he is knowing this is the Middle East—he is dealing with an Iranian neighbor who has weapons of mass destruction. He is dealing with Syria, who has weapons of mass destruction. Does he decide to hang onto a nuclear and chemical last-resort capability as a trump card?
So you have the question of the successor regime. And, then you have the problem of the long-term presence of the American forces in the region. And one of the things we have seen is that when you put American forces into a region, we tend to be a lightning rod. In the case of Kosovo, we are the strongest element there, and the Albanians looked to us for protection. In the case of Iraq, we are going to be infidels in a Muslim land. And one of the things that is going to happen when you break the authority of Saddam Hussein is that you are going to have a resurgence of support for Muslims in the region by the radical elements of both Wahabi and Shia, and they will be in there and they will be preaching antiAmericanism.
And, as we take the necessary actions with our force in the occupation, or, some have termed it, the liberation of Iraq, we are going to put Americans in a position where they are going to have to ex