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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
ercise authority. We are not going to enforce Islamic law. There are a number of issues that are troublesome in the long run. We need to put the right people together to think through these issues and be ready to deal with them, because you could look at a potential requirement to implement this plan less than two weeks after the initiation of hostilities. Thank you.
Mr. PERLE. Did you want my comment on that?
Mr. PERLE. Let me first observe that when it comes to inspections that are so obviously flawed, my friend and colleague is wildly optimistic. When it comes to dealing with problems that we are quite right to anticipate, he is wholly pessimistic. And, I think the only conclusion you can draw is that he has come down on the side of waiting, of resorting to the dream that inspections will solve this problem.
It is absolutely right to be concerned about what follows the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power. On this, I am rather more optimistic than General Clark, first of all, because Iraq unlike Afghanistan, for example, or some other countries in the region-has a highly educated and sophisticated population that has suffered horribly under Saddam Hussein, that is in my view desperate to be liberated from Saddam Hussein, and that has begun to show quite remarkable unity among the opponents of Saddam Hussein as the prospect of action to remove him has become more real.
Sure, there are lots of potential divisions. I was in London the other day and dropped in on a meeting of some of the Iraqi opposition, and around that table in serious discussions were representatives of all the groups that General Clark referred to as in conflict with one another. That doesn't guarantee that there won't be some confusion. It doesn't guarantee that individual groups will not depart from what they now say they pledged themselves to. But, I have been impressed with the ability of the Iraqi National Congress to bring together around the table representatives of the Shia in the south,
the Kurds in the north, even the Sunnis in the center of the country.
I think nearly 30 years of Saddam Hussein's rule will inspire in the Iraqi people a desire for a decent, humane government. And, with help from us, I see no reason to assume a priori that that can't be done. I think it can be done. And, I think the chances of success in that regard are infinitely greater than the likelihood that we will find the weapons of mass destruction that even a good inspection regime would be incompetent to unearth.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Saxton.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Perle, General Clark indicated a few minutes ago he wasn't sure-I am sorry, I don't want to mischaracterize what General Clark said, but something to the effect that we don't have information that al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime are connected. Is that a fair characterization, General Clark?
General CLARK. I am saying there hasn't been any substantiation of the linkage of the Iraqi regime to the events of 9/11 or the fact that they are giving weapons of mass destruction capability to al Qaeda.
Mr. SaxTOx. That has been a widely held view, at least in some quarters, and I suspect that one of the difficulties that we have had in addressing this subject comes because of the difficulty of collecting intelligence in that region of the world for all the reasons that we know. However, yesterday, the President's National Security Adviser began to talk about this subject in a different light. She said we clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for a long time. We know, too, that several of the al Qaeda detainees, in particular, some high-ranking detainees, have said that Irag provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development. Now, I suspect that it would be difficult for someone to say that if they didn't have information to back it up. And, she also suggested that the details of the contacts would be released at a later date, and from my knowledge of intelligence work—which is sketchy, but from what I know-it is difficult sometimes to disclose details because you endanger sources.
And, so I think this is a subject that certainly there are beginning to be indications that there areas a matter of fact, other bad guys have gone to Iraq. Abu Nidal died there recently. And, when you couple all this with the notion that Saddam has been very determined to act out against his neighbors in the West, and seems to stop at nothing, to draw the conclusion based on evidence that is beginning to emerge that there is no contact and no general theme of cooperation between Saddam and officials of al Qaeda is a stretch and, I think, a dangerous conclusion to come to.
Mr. Perle, would you give us your opinion?
Mr. PERLE. I think you have identified an important issue and a serious problem. It is true it is difficult to collect intelligence in these areas. But, the bigger problem in my view has been a stunning lack of competence among our own intelligence agencies. They simply proved incompetent in this area and I have testified on this theme several times over the last 10 or 15 years.
What we are now beginning to see is evidence that was there all along. It simply wasn't properly assessed. And the reason why it wasn't assessed, in my view, is that a point of view dominated the intelligence community, the CIA in particular, and that point of view held that a secular Ba'athist regime like that of Saddam Hussein would not cooperate with religious fanatics like al Qaeda. This was a theory. There was nothing to support it except the speculation of the intelligence officials who held that view. And as a result, they simply didn't look for evidence that there might be a connection. Now that we are aware of the strange ways in which terrorists cooperate all over the world, we are beginning to find significant evidence.
You know, there is no logical basis for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) cooperating with terrorists in Colombia, and yet we have caught them red-handed doing it. There is a kind of professional trade craft involved in which people engaged in the business of terrorism work with one another for mutual convenience, sometimes for exchanges of money and the like. So, there is in fact evidence of relations between Saddam and al Qaeda. And, I believe that the more intensively we scrutinize databases of information available to us in the past, the more evidence of that we are going to find. General CLARK. Representative Saxton, if I could just tag along on that, I think there is no question that even though we may not have the evidence, as Richard says, that there have been such contacts, it is normal, it is natural. These are a lot of bad actors in the same region together. They are going to bump into each other. They are going to exchange information. They are going to feel each other out and see if there are opportunities to cooperate. That is inevitable in this region.
And, I think it is clear that, regardless of whether or not such evidence is produced of these connections, that Saddam Hussein is a threat. So, I think the key issue is how we move from here and what do we need to do to deal with this threat? But, I think what is also clear is the way you deal with the threat from Iraq is different than the way you deal with the threat from al Qaeda. My contention is we need to look at different means for dealing with these threats. We need to take advantage of all the resources at our disposal, not just the military.
If I could just say with respect to the inspections issue, as well, and the comments of my friend and colleague Richard Perle, I am not either optimistic or pessimistic. I practiced weapons inspection. I have been involved in diplomacy at the United Nations and I have been involved in setting up the plans for a number of postconflict situations, including Bosnia, Haiti and Kosovo, so I am only giving you the best judgment from my own perspective. I don't label it.
So Richard, if I can just in a friendly way say if you won't label me, I won't label you.
Mr. PERLE. What I was labeling was the unavoidable conclusion that you think inspections can work, and I think the overwhelming evidence is that they can't.
General CLARK. I have been very clear. I don't have any expectation, ultimately, that the inspections will work in the sense of finding and eliminating every weapons of mass destruction program. What I am suggesting is that the inspections are useful in pursuing America's security concerns, and we should be endeavoring to pursue those concerns with every means at our disposal, one of which is inspections.
Mr. PERLE. If I may say so, if the inspections fail to achieve their purpose, that is, finding Saddam's weapons, then I think they are not only helpful, they are quite damaging; because, the failure to find those weapons will make it very difficult to sustain the inspections regime itself beyond a certain point to keep sanctions in place and to take action that might actually be effective in removing those weapons
of mass destruction. Mr. SAXTON. If I may reclaim my time for 30 seconds.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Saxton, if you want back into this conversation, you go right ahead.
Mr. SAXTON. I wanted to thank General Clark for clarifying his position. I thought you had said there had been no contacts. And, now you do know, as we do, that there have been contacts between Saddam and al Qaeda. So, thank you.
General CLARK. I say no substantiation of it. It has to be going on. It has to be.