|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
Middle East Institute
Ben Lombardi of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, asks: Has U.S. acceptance of this deal, and the concessions offered to Saddam (minor though they may be), reduced U.S. prestige throughout the Persian Gulf region? And, if U.S. prestige has been reduced, how likely is it that the Arab world, particularly the Gulf states, will support U.S. policies directed against Saddam in the future?
Mr. John Bolton, senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, responds:
I believe that the U.N.-Iraq deal, at best, postpones the ultimate confrontation with Saddam Hussein. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Saddam is any more likely to abide by the current agreement than by any previous Security Council Resolution or deal that he has made since the Persian Gulf War.
If anything, I worry that the nations of the Persian Gulf will see American acceptance of the agreement as a sign of weakness, and an indication that Saddam Hussein has faced us down. If true, this reaction will only make the U.S. defense of its vital national interests in the Gulf even more difficult in the future. The Gulf nations would welcome, as they did in 1990-1991, a strong and assertive U.S. position, but they fear being left in the lurch in the case of a weak or inattentive United States.
Dr. John Calabrese, resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, responds:
When the U.S. was temporarily "rescued" from having to resort to air strikes against Iraq, the Arab Gulf states were rescued too. With the possible exception of Kuwait, none of the Arab Gulf states nor any of the other Arab countries enthusiastically supported the idea of military action. Arab Gulf leaders might not be ecstatic about the specifics of the Annan deal (any more than the Clinton team itself is), but they clearly prefer it to the alternative - military strikes.
First, Arab Gulf leaders were/are skeptical that military strikes would have either (a) forced him to capitulate on the UNSCOM issues or (b) resulted in his overthrow. Whilst they would not say so openly, Arab leaders and Arab publics are under no illusion about Saddam and would love to see him ousted. But, they quarrel with the approach and are as bewildered as many Americans when, with the passage of time, the Administration's "goal posts" with respect to Iraq appear to change.
Second, Arab Gulf leaders must contend with their own versions of "public opinion" and discontent. Bans on demonstrations in Jordan and the riots which occurred in the city of Maan despite these bans, demonstrate that the issue of supporting U.S. military strikes against Iraq widely reverberates in the Middle East as a whole - it is not confined to the Gulf. Supporting military action at this time is a very delicate, even dangerous game for Arab leaders.
Third, resorting to military attacks, or even the continuation of economic sanctions indefinitely strikes at the "collective conscience" of Arabs, who feel genuine guilt for the suffering of the Iraqi population.
Finally, there is the vague sense of dread or anxiety in the Gulf that, at some time in the post-Saddam future, Iraqis will remember their neighbors' complicity in severe punishing of the country for the crimes of its leader, and act accordingly.
In my estimation, it is this aversion to the use of force, along with the waning commitment to the continued application of sanctions - more so than the shortcomings of the Annan deal - that chip away at U.S. prestige and support for U.S. policy.