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The coalition we have fashioned in the global war on terror includes 90 countries, literally half of the world. It was not there on September 11th. It was built one country at a time over a long period of time. During the Persian Gulf War, the coalition there eventually included 36 nations when Iraq was attacked, but they were not there on August 5th when President George Herbert Walker Bush announced to the world that Saddam Hussein's aggression would not stand. That coalition was built over many months.
With his U.N. speech, President Bush has begun the process of building international support for dealing with Iraq, and the reaction has been very positive. The President will continue to state our case, and I suspect that as he does so we will find that additional countries in increasing numbers will cooperate and participate. Certainly that has been our experience over the past days.
Some have suggested that if the U.S. were to act, it might provoke Saddam Hussein's use of weapons of mass destruction. That is a useful point, and certainly there are ways to mitigate the risk of a chemical or biological attack, but it cannot be entirely eliminated. And it is true that that could be a risk of military action, were the President to make a decision for military action. But if Saddam Hussein is that dangerous today, then I would think it would only make the case for dealing with such a threat stronger, because the longer we wait, the more deadly his regime becomes.
Moreover, consider the consequences if the world were to allow that risk to deter us from acting. We would then have sent a message to the world about the value of having weapons of mass destruction that we would deeply regret having said. The message the world should want to send is the exact opposite: that Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction has not made it more secure but less secure, and that by pursuing those weapons they have attracted undesired attention to themselves.
But I would suggest that even Saddam Hussein—that if he were to issue such an order to use a chemical or a biological attack, that that does not necessarily mean his orders would be carried out. He might not have anything to lose, but those beneath him in the chain of command most certainly would have a great deal to lose. Wise Iraqis will not obey orders to use weapons of mass destruction.
Some have asked what has changed to warrant action now. Well, what has changed is our experience on September 11th. What has changed is our appreciation of our vulnerability and the risks that this country faces from terrorist networks, terrorist states armed with weapons of mass destruction and the nexus between terrorist networks and weapons of mass destruction. What has not changed is Iraq's drive to acquire those weapons and the fact that every approach that the United Nations has taken to stop Iraq's drive has failed.
Mr. Chairman, as the President has made clear, this is a critical moment for our country and for the world. Our resolve is being put to the test. It is a test that unfortunately, the world's free nations have failed before in recent history with unfortunate consequences. Long before the Second World War, Hitler wrote in Mein Kamph indicating what he intended to do, but the hope was that maybe he would not do what he said, and between 35 and 60 million peo
ple died because of the series of fatal miscalculations. He might have been stopped early at a minimum cost of lives had the vast majority of the world's leaders not decided at the time that the risks of acting were greater than the risks of not acting.
Today we must decide whether the risks of acting are greater than the risks of not acting. Saddam Hussein has made his intentions clear. He has used those weapons. He has demonstrated an intention to take the territory of his neighbor. He plays host to terrorist networks. He is hostile to our country. Because we have denied him the ability he has sought to impose his will on his neighbors. He has said in no uncertain terms that he would use weapons of mass destruction against the United States. He has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. If he demonstrates the capability to deliver those weapons to our shore, the world would be changed. Our people would be at risk. Our willingness to be engaged in the world and our willingness to project power to stop aggression and our ability to forge coalitions for multilateral actions all could be put under question, and many lives could be lost.
We need to decide as a people how we feel about that. Do the risks of taking action to stop that threat outweigh the risks of living in the world that we see, or is the risk of doing nothing greater than the risk of acting?
The question comes down to this, how will the history of this era be recorded? When we look back on previous periods of history, we see there have been many books written about threats and attacks that were not anticipated. “At Dawn We Slept." "The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor.” “December 7th, 1941, the Day the Admiral Slept Late.” “Pearl Harbor, Final Judgment.” “From Munich to Pearl Harbor.” “Why England Slept.” “The Cost of Failure.” The list of such books is endless, and unfortunately, in the past year historians have added to the body of literature. And there are already books out on September 11th wondering why those attacks weren't prevented. Each is an attempt by the authors to connect the dots, to determine what happened and why it was not possible before the fact to figure out what was going to happen.
And our job today, the President's, the Congress and the United States is to connect the dots before the fact. It is to anticipate vastly more lethal attacks before they happen and to make the right decision as to whether or not it is appropriate for this country to take action before it is too late. We are on notice, each of us. Each of us has a responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that when the history books of this period are written, the books won't ask why we slept, but to ensure that history would instead record that on September 11th, the American people were awakened to the impending dangers and that those entrusted with the safety of the American people made the right decisions for the country.
President Bush is determined to do just that, and that is why he has come before the Congress and why he has come before the United Nations and why he has set forth his case. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Rumsfeld can be found in the Appendix on page 149.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and let me ask you, Mr. Secretary, for your perspective of the security balance in the Middle East when Saddam Hussein acquires the nuclear systems?
Oh, excuse me, General Myers, did you have a statement also? General MYERS. I do. I have a short statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Well, why don't you go ahead and then we will lead with questions.
STATEMENT OF GEN. RICHARD B. MYERS, USAF, CHAIRMAN,
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF General MYERS. Okay. Chairman Hunter and Congressman Skelton, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. Before I start I would like to take a minute and just thank Chairman Stump for his 26 years of service to our Nation as a Member of Congress. His service here and in the United States Navy of course, is an example for all of us in uniform, and we wish him and his family well in the days ahead and hope we can work again with him here in Congress.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much, General.
General MYERS. It is certainly an honor to appear before you to discuss the nature of the threat that Iraq represents to America and our interest and those of our allies and friends.
Mr. Chairman, I request that my written statement be submitted for the record.
Mr. HUNTER. Without objection.
I will make some short introductory remarks, and then we will go right to questions. The first thing that I wanted to cover with you was the nature of the threat that Iraq presents to us and the capabilities of our Armed Forces today, but I don't think there is anything I can add to Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks. I agree with those, and so I will leave that point and go on to my second point, and that is to tell you that our Nation's military forces are ready and able to do whatever the President asks of them. Our Armed Forces have made dramatic strides and capabilities over the past decade, and let me just highlight a few.
As a result of support of Congress and the American public, our Armed Forces have improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. These capabilities together with an enhanced command and control network give our joint warfighters a faster, more agile decision cycle than the one that we had a decade ago. For our warfighters, this means that they have updated tactical information that is minutes or hours old, not days old. We also enjoy much better power projection capability to
our joint warfighting team. The strong congressional support for programs such as the C-17 and the Large-Medium Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off ships have meant that we can deploy and sustain the force much, much better than in the past.
And finally, our Nation's combat power has increased dramatically over the past decade. For example, the Joint Direct Attack Munition provides all of our bomber aircraft and a majority of our fighter aircraft a day-night, all-weather precision attack capability. Our ground forces have improved and have more accurate long
range weapons with the improved Army Tactical Missile System and a faster Multiple Launch Rocket System.
Today, we have sufficient forces to continue our ongoing operations, meet our international commitments, and continue to protect the American homeland. At the same time, of course, some key units are in high demand. Mobilization of Guard and Reserve forces have helped to reduce the stress on some of these key units, but any major combat operation will obviously require us to prioritize the tasks given to such units. While our military capabilities have improved over the past decade, the foundation of our success remains our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Their superior training, discipline and leadership are the core of our effectiveness.
In my view, these qualities are the reason that our men and women in uniform enjoy the respect and high regard of other professional militaries around the world. It is also for these reasons that our military forces are so effective partners in any potential coalition.
Once again, I welcome the opportunity to be here today and make those two important points. First, Iraq remains a threat to our region, to the region, our interests and to Americans. And second, our Nation's joint force can accomplish any task that this Nation may ask them to do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of General Myers can be found in the Appendix on page 142.)
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, General, and Mr. Secretary and General Myers, you may wish to comment on this. I would just restate this question. How do you see the security balance in the region with respect to U.S. interests when Saddam Hussein acquires nuclear systems?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Well, Mr. Chairman, my personal view is that a biological threat and a chemical threat is of a kind with a nuclear threat, and he has biological and chemical weapons, and he is aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons.
The region knows that. The region knows this man very, very well, and they are frightened of him. And I don't know precisely what it would do to the balance in the region for it to be demonstrated that he has a nuclear capability and the ability to deliver it, not just to his neighbors but to others. In my view, the thing that is critical in the region is the role that the coalition forces have played since Desert Storm to dissuade him from invading his neighbors. He threatens the regimes of his neighboring countries frequently, and it is the United States and the United Kingdom and the fact that the U.N. resolutions have been a constraint on him in terms of the sanctions and the like, not a successful constraint because his programs have gone forward, but probably a constraint against him invading his neighbors. My impression is that it is probably the most critical element of the balance of power in the region at the present time.
General MYERS. Mr. Chairman, let me just add that when you think about Iraq developing nuclear weapons and the fact that they have an active ballistic missile production program, that when you put those two things together, you have to be very, very worried, like the Secretary says. And I would say that it makes a very bad strategic situation. Given that he has chemical and biological weapons, it makes it a very, very bad strategic situation for his neighbors, much worse.
Secretary RUMSFELD. One thing I would add, if you postulated that he had a nuclear weapon and the ability to deliver it, for example, some distances, which he is aggressively attempting to have, imagine trying to put together a coalition like was put together for the global war on terrorism, and put together a coalition as was put together for the Gulf War. When countries know that by participating in such a coalition they and their cities and their populations could conceivably be targets, it would cause a—the purpose of a terror weapon is to terrorize, and it need not even be used to still be very effective, because it alters behavior. And in the hands of the likes of Saddam Hussein, that is a significant shift in capability and power.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Secretary, I was going to ask you about the offer by Saddam Hussein and Iraq to have so-called unfettered inspections, but I think you fully covered that in your earlier comments and your opening statement.
Mr. Secretary, you made a reference to the Second World War, what led up to it, a, regarding Pearl Harbor, b, regarding the rise of Adolf Hitler. We must look ahead in this whole effort, and I use the Second World War as an example. What happens after we remove Saddam Hussein from power, he and his regime, hopefully with a coalition? But after the decision is made and after that action is taken?
We had a plan in place regarding Japan, the occupation thereof, and it worked. We had a plan in place in the occupation of Germany, and it worked, even despite the fact that the Soviet Union thwarted it for a while, and today we have, as you know, democracies in both Japan and Germany, and a great deal of that is because of our foresight in putting together what we do after victory. And there is no question in my mind that the United States, either alone, hopefully with other coalition partners should this come to pass, could decisively defeat the Iraqi forces. But I pride myself being somewhat of a student of history and know that planning for the aftermath of a successful military action is very important. Clausewitz's maxim said that in strategy it is imperative not to take the first step without considering the last, so let me ask you these really there is really one question, Mr. Secretary, but I will split it into two parts.
What preparations are being made now for the administration of Iraq after Saddam falls and for the longer-term transition to a more permanent government? The second part of the question is what is the level of diplomatic and military commitment to be made to Iraq after Saddam falls and particularly, what is the estimate of American troops needed to ensure stability for the first year, or in the long term, or both? In other words, what does the future hold for us once victory is achieved?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Congressman Skelton, that is, of course, an exceedingly important question, and it is one that the President and the National Security Council have given a good deal of thought to. If the President were to decide that some action were