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Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of
September 26, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding the series of hearings on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq.
This is a critical time for us to be considering U.S. action against Iraq. President Bush has made clear to the Congress, the United Nations, and the American people his determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power and to neutralize the threat posed by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. I applaud his realization that the threat posed by Saddam is one that faces the United Nations as a whole. I think we all agree that Saddam is a despot who has violated the Security Council's resolutions for years.
But we here in Congress now face a serious responsibility to
а craft a resolution that will empower the administration to disarm Iraq and ng that nation into compliance with the requirements of many UN resolutions. The hearing today can help us in this effort by helping us consider whether force is now the only option. I believe that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before we send American troops
into harm's way. Any resolution Congress passes must recognize that. So the question for our witnesses is, what can still be done before we must compel Iraq with the use of the American military? What is the threshold beyond which the United States can no longer wait for Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions or for U.N. action in the face of Iraqi defiance?
This, to me, is the fundamental question. But there are others that the Congress must ask and which the president must be able to answer before force can be used. How will the United States ensure that we continue to have international support for our efforts against al Qaeda, even if the administration seeks military action without Security Council approval? Do we have the forces, fiscal resources, munitions, and other military capabilities to wage both campaigns effectively? How do we minimize the risk of casualties from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or from sustained urban combat operations? As members of the Armed Services Committee, we all share the commitment to making sure that our troops can succeed on the battlefield at the lowest possible level of risk if we decide to put them in harm's way.
The president should be able to answer these questions before he uses force. Once he does, I have no doubt that American troops will succeed in disarming Iraq. But the question then becomes what happens
next? Like the proverbial dog chasing the car, what will we do when we
I am reminded of Carl von Clausewitz's maxim in On War: that in
strategy it is “imperative...not to take the first step without considering the last.” We must think through carefully and NOW—before we authorize military force—how the United States would manage Iraq after Saddam fell. Planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan took years before the end of World War II. In today's dynamic battlefield, we don't have the luxury of years to prepare. How can we build a stable and democratic Iraq that takes all major groups-Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd—into account? How will we handle members of the Baath party and those scientists and engineers that designed Iraq's WMD programs? What military commitment will be required from the United States at the time of our victory and in the years to come?
Any decision to act against Iraq must begin with answers to these questions about the strategy for achieving victory and long-term responsibilities that come with doing so. To my mind, any resolution authorizing the use of force must require these answers. I thank both witnesses for being with us today, for sharing their expertise and hopefully for providing answers to the questions I have outlined. Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
FELLOW, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SEPTEMBER 26, 2002
I wish to thank you for including me in today's hearing. As we confront issues of war and peace, our country is strongest when the Congress and the executive branch act in concert. In all the talk of the need for a coalition to confront Saddam Hussein, the coalition that matters most is to be found here in Washington, at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The President, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld and British Prime Minister Blair have all spoken in recent days about the urgency of dealing with the threat posed to the American people, and others, by Saddam Husseln. In what may well be the most important speech of his presidency, President Bush has argued eloquently and persuasively to the United Nations in New York that Saddam's open defiance of the United Nations, and his scornful refusal to heed its many injunctions, is a challenge to the credibility of the U.N itself. And he has rightly asked the United Nations to approve a Security Council Resolution that would force Saddam to choose between full compliance with the many resolutions he has scorned and violated and action to remove his regime from power.
Saddam's, response-calculating, deceitful and disingenuous-moves only slightly in the direction of U.N. inspections of Iraqi territory-and not at all toward the disarmament that is what really matters. The statement issued in his name that he will accept inspections unconditionally is anything but unconditional: it is hedged as to the allowable types of inspection and the rules under which inspections would be conducted. As I understand it, Saddam is demanding an inspection regime in which advance notification is required and in which certain places are off limits to the inspectors, who would be limited in number, mobility and armament.
Even from a government whose cooperation we could count on, these conditions would be unacceptable. But from Saddam Hussein, who has gone to enormous lengths to conceal his weapons program from previous International inspectors and continues to lie about them now, the sort of inspection regime that Kofi Annan has negotiated with Saddam would be a farce.
What would a robust inspection regime look like? It would, at a minimum, include tens of thousand inspectors with Americans in key leadership and decision-making roles distributed throughout Iraq, possessing an independent capability to move anywhere from dispersed bases to any site in the country without prior notification or approval, the right to interview any Iraqi or Iraqi resident together with his family at safe locations outside Iraq, appropriate
self-defense capabilities for the inspectors so they could overcome efforts to impede them, and the like.
But Iraq is a very large country. My own view is that even with a large and intrusive force it is simply not possible to devise an inspection regime on territory controlled by Saddam Hussein that could be effective in locating, much less eliminating, his weapons of massdestruction. In any case, the inspection regime known as Unmovic doesn't even come close: Its size, organization, management and resources are all hopelessly inadequate for the daunting task of inspecting a country the size of France against Saddam's determined program of concealment, deception and lying. The simple truth is that the inspectors will never find anything the location of which has not been discovered through intelligence operations. Unless we can obtain information, from defectors or by technical means, that points the inspectors to specific sites, we are most unlikely to find what we are looking for.
We know, Mr. Chairman, that Saddam lies about his program to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. We know that he has used the years during which no inspectors were in Iraq to move everything of Interest, with the result that the database we once possessed, inadequate though it was, has been destroyed. We know all of this yet I sometimes think there are those at the United Nations who treat the issue not as a matter of life and death, but rather more like a game of pin the tail on the donkey or an Easter egg hunt on a sunny Sunday.
The bottom line is this: Saddam is better at hiding than we are at finding. And this is not a game. If he eludes us and continues to refine, perfect and expand his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, the danger to us, already great, will only grow. If he achieves his holy grail and acquires one or more nuclear weapons there is no way of knowing what predatory policies he will pursue.
Let us suppose that in the end a robust inspection arrangement is put in place and after a year or two it has found nothing. Could we conclude from the failure to unearth illegal activity that none existed? Of course not. All we would know is that we had failed to find what we were looking for, not that it was not there to be found. And where would that leave us? Would we be safer-or even more gravely imperiled? There would be a predictable clamor to end the inspection regime and, if they were still in place, to lift the sanctions. Saddam would claim not only that he was in compliance with the U.N. resolutions concerning inspections, but that he had been truthful all along. There are those who would believe him.
Given what we now know about Saddam's weaponry, his lies, his concealment, we would be fools to accept inspections, even an inspection regime far more ambition than anything the U.N. contemplates, as a substitute for disarmament.
That is why, Mr. Chairman, the President is right to demand that the United Nations promptly resolve that Saddam comply with the full range of United Nations resolutions concerning Iraq or face an American led enforcement action.
I have returned last night from Europe where the issues before you are being widely discussed. Perhaps the most frequently asked question put to me by various Europeans is, "why now?" What is it about the current situation that has made action to deal with Saddam urgent? My answer is that we are already perilously late. We should have acted long ago-and we should certainly have acted when Saddam expelled the inspectors in 1998. Our myopic forbearance has given him four years to expand his arsenal without