|THE IRAQ SITUATION
Will Saddam Hussein comply with the latest agreement?
February 27, 1998
in this forum:
Why are we so concerned with Saddam Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction? Upon what basis of authority does Washington stand in planning a unilateral military attack on any country? Has the U.S. lost its credibility in the region as an honest broker? Will the Arab states support U.S. policies against Saddam in the future? Has the U.N. brokered deal with Iraq resolved the crisis or is it just an interlude to war?
February 23, 1998
Sec. Albright discusses the U.N. brokered deal with Iraq.
February 23, 1998
Four policy experts discusses the latest deal.
February 16, 1998
How significant a threat does Saddam Hussein's country really pose?
February 11, 1998
Ambassador Richardson discusses the ongoing crisis with Iraq.
February 4, 1998
Secretary Albright tries to marshal support for a possible attack on Iraq.
January 14, 1998
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, defends his country's actions.
What's the best way to deal with Iraq?
November 17, 1997
Arab perspectives on the Iraqi crisis.
November 13, 1997
Deputy PM Aziz defends his country's expulsion of U.N. weapons inspectors.
November 3, 1997
U.N. Ambassador Richardson discusses tensions between the U.S. and Iraq.
Online Forum: 1996:
The plight of the Kurds in Northern Iraq.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Middle East.
American Enterprise Institute
Matthew Emerson of San Gabriel, CA, asks: Why are we so concerned with Saddam Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction, when there are other potentially unstable countries who possess these same weapons, ie North Korea, China, and Iran?
Dr. John Calabrese, resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, responds:
In formulating a foreign policy for the post-Cold War, post-Soviet era, the Clinton Administration has devised a "threat matrix" consisting of certain types of challenges to American interests on the one hand, and certain challengers to those interests on the other. Within this matrix, the Clinton team has identified weapons of mass destruction in the hands of "rogue states" and terrorist groups to pose the most serious threat. Iraq falls squarely within this category.
U.S. policymakers are concerned with these weapons not only because of their awesome destructive effects if unleashed, but also because of their possible use as instruments of intimidation or extortion. As I see it, the danger lies not in the weapons themselves, but in who is in possession of them and what their intentions or ambitions are.
Although lumped into the category of "rogue states," along with other countries you mentioned like North Korea and Iran, Iraq has received special attention primarily because of who is in charge there and what his record of behavior appears to reveal. In fact, by using the name "Saddam Hussein" in your question, Matthew, you have zeroed in on the problem. Of course, one can never know with certainty which leader or regime will exercise restraint, but Saddam appears to have convinced many by his prior use of chemical weapons and his aggression against Kuwait of the menace he poses.
Three additional factors undoubtedly figure into U.S. calculations and the decision that we must take a stand against Iraq on this issue. The first is that, if future action to counter proliferation is to be meaningful, this is an important precedent. The second factor is oil, its relationship to the well-being of the global economy, and the U.S. determination to prevent any Gulf power - especially one governed by a regime such as Saddam's - from obtaining strategic dominance in the region. Finally, there is the issue of "sunk costs" and the fact that far too much political capital has been expended to accept anything less than continuous UNSCOM operations while Saddam remains in power.
The last point is merely an expression of my own skepticism. I do not believe that the weapons of mass destruction problem can be addressed effectively in the long term in this case or others simply by using the devices we now see in place in Iraq. In the final analysis, it will be necessary for the U.S. and others to work to develop region-based security frameworks that contribute to lowering the level of tension in the area and that provide positive incentives for not pursuing these weapons.
Mr. John Bolton, senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, responds:
We should be deeply concerned with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ("WMD") and their delivery systems, whatever their source. Indeed, I believe that WMD proliferation is the single most important foreign policy issue the United States currently faces.
If anything, the recent focus on Iraq should emphasize and highlight the importance of greater national attention to this issue. Although we face a substantially different threat now than in the days of nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, the dangers of WMD in the wrong hands are real and pervasive.